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The Fifth Assassin

(Culper Ring #2)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  14,958 ratings  ·  1,210 reviews
From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, there have been more than two dozen assassination attempts on the President of the United States.

Four have been successful.

But now, Beecher White discovers a killer in Washington, D.C. who's meticulously re-creating the crimes of these four men. Historians have branded them as four lone wolves. But what if they are wrong?

Hardcover, 436 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group
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This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Maria Rose It was Frick as proven at the end of the book when he was killed by Marshall.
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Maria Rose I have to agree with Pacey26 that the number on the special phone used by the President is constantly changed by the Secret Service for safety reasons…moreI have to agree with Pacey26 that the number on the special phone used by the President is constantly changed by the Secret Service for safety reasons. Besides the President knew that P could contact A.J. at any time. P was the one who couldn't follow/deal with the rules of staying away from former contacts. (less)

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Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Except for authors with whom I'm intimately acquainted, I check out what reviewers think of most books before I commit to reading (that's especially true if I have to shell out bucks to get them, but even when I find freebies, I do a bit of homework). So it was with this one; I think I've read at least one of his other books, but I remember nothing about it, not even the title.

What I found when checking the reviews came as a surprise: of the 29 who had reviewed it at Amazon.com at the time I loo
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really don't like being critical of authors because writing a book is hard work. And, according to his acknowledgements, this book took him 4 years. So I'm sorry but there are 2 main problems with this book.

First, for folks who didn't read the previous 2 books with these characters, he should have considered some recap or summary. Even though I did read the books ("The Book of Fate" introduced Nico Hadrian and "The Inner Circle" introduced the Culper Ring), I didn't remember everything from be
Feb 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
I've struggled as to how to write up my review to this book, being that I very rarely provide written review to books that I've read. In this case, I feel compelled to review this book based on my overall dislike of the entire experience. Hoping that other readers will benefit from my experience & not read this book.

I think the best description to wholly convey my thoughts is that I fell down a rabbit hole, just like Alice. And, frankly, were I in Alice's shoes, it would have made more sense.

Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The Good: This series isn't my normal type of thing, but the books keep dragging me in. This time, a serial killer is going around assassinating priests, in the same style as past presidential assassinations. The history of it was intensely fascinating. We see these past presidential deaths first-hand in the book, which is newer to most than it really should be. We're usually taught about Kennedy and Lincoln but often American educations neglect details from the assassinations of Garfield and Mc ...more
Alan Kaplan
Feb 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
I had never read any books by this author, and I did not realize that they are part of a series. I bought the book simply because it was at Costco.
Nevertheless, I understood the main plot of the book, but really I know nothing of the back story. For the most part, I felt that the book was an incomprehensible mess. A member of a conspiracy is attempting to recreate the four assassinations of US presidents, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy. This conspiracy has something to do with playing
Chris Durkin
Feb 19, 2013 rated it liked it
I have read all of Mr Meltzer's books and this one and the Inner Circle are some of his worst. That's not to say that they are not good novels. Just the characters are nowhere near as interesting and compelling as the characters in his other books. Ironic that this is the first time he has had a character in more than one book.

Secret Societies. There have been so many novels in recent years, since *cough* *cough* DaVinci Code *cough* *cough*, that this genre is really worn out. It's sad to see
Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, spy-fi
Well...as you may have noticed I added this to my Spy-Fi shelf. This as close as I've seen recently to that genre I miss. With the under-current of conspiracy and the inlay/overlay of historic spy rings etc. it moves into science fantasy/Spy-Fi territory.

And (he said opening a sentence incorrectly) this one is somewhat better (in my humble opinion of course) than the first. Beecher frustrated me very, very badly in the first book. He's one of those geniuses who also manages to be so slow and thi
Anita Porterfield
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“. . .suddenly the bullet dropped out through my fingers and fell, breaking the solemn silence of the room with its clatter, into an empty basin that was standing beneath. There it lay upon the white china, a little black mass no bigger that the end of my finger—dull, motionless and harmless, yet the cause of such mighty changes in the world’s history as we may perhaps never realize.”

Those are the words of Dr. Edward Curtis, the physician who performed the autopsy of President Abraham Lincoln.

Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Brad Meltzer often gets lumped in with the cheesy thrillers that Dan Brown et al write. Normally, I don't think this is a very fair comparison, as I think Meltzer brings a level of depth and research to his books that make them several cuts above the cheesiest thrillers. They are still light fast-paced thrillers, but definitely on the intelligent end of the spectrum.

Unfortunately, I didn't think that was the case with his latest, THE FIFTH ASSASSIN. I actually found the whole book kind of a mes
Patrice Hoffman
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I suggest anyone reading this to first read The Inner Circle. This book starts off a few months later from where The Inner Circle ended. The characters are the same. There's still the awful President Wallace, the wise old guy Tot, the enigma Clementine, and the evolving Beecher White. I say Beecher is evolving because he doesn't come off as baffled and clueless as he did in The Inner Circle. He's definitely finding his voice and strength the longer he is with the Culper Ring.

Once again, the Culp
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
Meltzer's latest novel layers history, politics, and murder into a masterful tale that grabs the reader from the opening pages and does not let go until well after closing the back dust cover. Picking up where 'The Inner Circle' left off, Meltzer posits more conspiracy deep inside the US Government, this time a long-standing secret society in which all four presidential assassins belonged. When murders that replicate these four historical assassinations begin, no one is safe. The society is not ...more
Mike French
I didn't enjoy this book as much as The Inner Circle. Just when things were getting exciting, there would a couple too many flashbacks. Book would slow down and when it built back up, here come the flashbacks again. ...more
Ken Schloman
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Volume 2 of the Culper Ring series is actually hard to rate. I give it three stars if one reads it as a continuation of the first novel in the series. If I was rating the novel as a stand alone book I would have to rate it only 2 stars. As a stand alone the novel lacks sufficient back story on the key characters to give the reader a complete picture of what is going on. As I noted in my review of the first volume in the series, the entire series should be read as a whole and in order. Still, I r ...more
Ray Palen
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What if all four of the U.S. Presidents who were assassinated while in office was actually part of some sinister conspiracy --- a plot that has existed for nearly 150 years?

This is the amazing premise of Brad Meltzer’s latest novel --- THE FIFTH ASSASSIN. What makes this brilliantly conceived novel jump out of the readers hands is the fact that the action within is even more exciting than the premise it is built on.

The assassins in question – John Wilkes Booth, Charles Guiteau, Leon Czolgoz and
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I’m fond of how Brad Meltzer takes me inside the secret. As a comics fan I was well pleased reading his Book of Lies; weaving the Biblical murder of Able by his brother down through the years to the family tragedy surrounding Superman creator Jerry Siegel’s fathers murder into a very satisfying series of complications for that book’s protagonist. In The Fifth Assassin Meltzer lets is in on another great conspiracy. By weaving real history and well thought out intrigues together he leads us to a ...more
The Fifth Assassin is built around the premise that all four of the U.S. Presidents who were assassinated while in office was actually part of some dark conspiracy by a group who have been around covertly for over 150 years.

Religious figures around Washington, D.C. are being murdered using the same methods as each of the late Presidents. Is this a resurgence of this group, known as The Knights of the Golden Circle? Is the current president in danger? What is the message being sent? After all, t
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
First of all, let me get it out of the way. I really like Brad Meltzer's books and most of the time I learn a lot about history. Secondly, this is not a stand alone book. It is part of a series. You need to read Book of Fate and The Inner Circle by Mr. Meltzer to understand the full plot of what is going on with Nico and the Culper Ring. Beecher (main character) grows more in this book. We find out a little about his past and what led him to where he is in life now. I enjoy the fact that he is a ...more
Matthew Bartlett
The avalanche of terrible writing and poorly conceived character names continues! When asked "Why? Why are you reading a second Brad Meltzer novel?"
My response was, "for the good of humanity."

Moral outrage should be the response to this book, for part of a Rain Forest gave its life to produce this travesty of print and insult to human imagination.

What Meltzer has done with this work, and the projects he does with the "History Channel" should be condemned as a war crime. If American History was
Emilie Haney
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A thrilling continuation of the Culper Ring series. I think the best part about this series (which actually doesn't exactly have anything to do with the books ha!) is that I was able to be in DC while I was listening to this one. I could literally picture what was going on (having lived in DC as well) and I really appreciated the details that helped me visualize what was going on.

As we saw in book 1, no many people are who they say they are and Meltzer keeps you guessing about who is who and wh
Jul 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
A complete waste of time. It makes James Bond stories look like works of utter genius and depth. I made myself finish it as punishment for buying it and to remind me never to buy another book by him.
I liked the back story more than the main conspiracy. Characters were well done by the narrator but at times this dragged hence the grade.

Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
The first thing I have to say about Mr. Meltzer’s follow-up to his novel The Inner Circle is that the chapters are very short. It is the most superficial thing I like about many novels, especially if I have a hard time getting into them. I did have a hard time gaining interest into this book, but I must admit, I had not read the first novel so I was a bit lost at first. My fault, I picked the novel because the author looked like a “hipster” and I loath hipsters. I do owe it to my species to try ...more
B.G.M. Hall
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
The second book in Meltzer's Culper Ring series has a villain who is recreating US Presidential murders, targeting pastors who have dealt with this book's POTUS - Orson Wallace - and leading up to an attack on the president himself.
Beecher White, hero of the previous book, struggles with the idea that the assassin may be his childhood friend.
Meltzer's trademark conspiracy theories, obscure trivia (this time around playing cards) and detailed research about the US Secret Service and Presidents (
This is the second book in the Beecher White/Culper Ring series. I listened to the first book, Inner Circle, back in May 2012 and really enjoyed it, so when I saw there was a second book in the series, was excited to learn there was a continuation. I was also happy to learn that The Fifth Assassin was narrated by Scott Brick, like Inner Circle. A few of the characters from the first book showed up in this one, along with a new childhood friend of Beecher's, whom I liked a lot better than Clement ...more
Mar 02, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a hard book to decide on its rating, through out much of the book I would have given it a 5, (kept my interest, didn't want to put it down, brought history into it.....). On the other hand I like reading books that come in a a full package, this certainly did not fit that bill. It by far does not have a full ending, which then I assume there will be another book coming after this. this by no means says I don't like series, I love series, but when I picked this book up I didn't know that ...more
Kim Coryat
Mar 25, 2013 rated it did not like it
I read this book because I read The Inner Circle and I also confess I am an employee of the National Archives. I liked the first, more Archives-centric book better but The Inner Circle wasn't very good either, a DaVinci Code wannabe w decent research but too many characters w too many plot twists and a dearth of coherent resolutions. In fact, Meltzer seemed to spend the last quarter of the first book building a case for the next one. It worked so well he repeated the ploy in The Fifth Assassin. ...more
Seeley James
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it
While packed full of interesting history, this book is in dire need of a serious editor. Both a conceptual editor to reduce the lengthy and boring expository dialogues, and a real proof reader.

While lots of little things get through the best proofreaders, this book contained the sentence, "From the angle she was at, she couldn't see into the breakroom." Need I say more?

Much has been said about the quality offered by traditional publishers, but this book's editing belongs in the indie category.
Dec 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audio
While this comes close to the interesting background noise kind of audio book I usually look for, there's just too much wrong with it for it to be a worthwhile series. The narrator is overwrought - I should have done a shot every time he over enunciated the PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES but I would have been arrested for DUI before I left my neighborhood. It's not just his fault - Meltzer beat that to death along with an incredibly weak protagonist and characters that flip-flop so much that the ...more
Pierre Tassé
Nov 06, 2014 rated it liked it
50% of the book read...I am not thrilled with the jumping around in history. Not sure how much it adds to the story line or the reader's need to understand...well, it is now finished and the flipping back and forth through time is not necessary. It is like they (he) wanted to have two stories in one with multiple events...REALLY!! Good ending after a long buildup. 3 stars because it was a lot of unnecessary reading but no way he is in a class with Baldacci, WEB Griffin, Clancy... ...more
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Pastor Frisk 2 19 Aug 25, 2022 09:50AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please add/update details 3 18 Mar 25, 2016 06:32AM  
Crime, Mysteries ...: Fifth Assassin, The - April 2013 25 136 Jun 12, 2013 04:05AM  
Marshall Lusk 10 54 Apr 28, 2013 11:24PM  

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Brad Meltzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, and nine other bestselling thrillers including The Tenth Justice, The First Counsel, The Millionaires, and The President’s Shadow. His newest book, The Escape Artist, debuted at #1 on the bestseller list.
In addition to his fiction, Brad is one of the only authors to ever have books on the bestseller lis

Other books in the series

Culper Ring (3 books)
  • The Inner Circle (Culper Ring, #1)
  • The President's Shadow (Culper Ring, #3)

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