The Fifth Assassin
Brad Meltzer
Grand Central Publishing 2013
448 pages

Having watched a few episodes of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, when The Fifth Assassin came up for review I was curious if the man could write.  I was not disappointed. Kindle at Amazon

Following Meltzer’s The Inner Circle, The Fifth Assassin is a complex, thought-provoking mystery novel where fiction is intertwined with compelling facts of U.S. History, within a mix of politics, religion, mental illness and secret societies, and where childhood friends become reconnected decades later under the most unusual of circumstances.

Central is Beecher White, a National Archivist and recent recruit of the Culper Ring, a clandestine spy network established by George Washington to protect the presidency.

Men are turning up dead, executed at the exact time and  manner to successful presidential assassinations, beginning with Abraham Lincoln and likely culminating with the current president, Orson Wallace.  Can he be saved?

Who is to be trusted?  Are the shootings simply the result of a deranged copycat with a penchant for history, or are they more sinister; an expression of destiny extending deeper through time?  It is entertaining to find out.

There is little to criticize here, although occasionally the time line flips back and forth by minutes, hours, days or years just a bit too frequently.  Longer segments read smoother.  Also, there seems to be information left out, i.e. details regarding Marshall’s fire, but perhaps that’s for another book.

The Fifth Assassin is a deeply layered, intelligent and complex book, with excitement and interest defined by the details.  Although very entertaining, it is not a light read.  Quickly and easily sucked into the drama, you must pay attention.

Weaving complex layers of multiple mysteries, Brad Meltzer is very good at maintaining suspense, keeping the reader not only guessing, but often off balance.  His use of little known historical facts is quite compelling.  It enriches the story, making it feel real.

The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer is definitely an exciting mystery novel from beginning to end.  This reader certainly looks forward to reading other past and future Brad Meltzer novels.