Audiobook Review: The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer

  • Listening Length: 14 hours and 3 minutes
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio
  • Release Date: January 15, 2013
  • Source:Personal copy

Throughout our country’s history, there have been over two dozen Presidential assassination attempts; only four have been successful. Now, an killer is attempting to recreate these assassination attempts.  Authorities believe that four lone individuals are responsible for these historic attempts yet Beecher White, an archivist with the National Archives, believes differently. A member of The Culper Ring, a secretive group originally created by George Washington to maintain the safety and stability of the union, Beecher learns that the four assassins (John Wilkes Booth, Charles Julius Guiteau, Leon Frank Czolgosz, and Lee Harvey Oswald) were in fact part of The Knights of the Golden Circle and, over the last century, worked together to bring down the President of the United States.

It is the grotesque deaths of a number of religious leaders in Washington, D.C. that brings Beecher’s attention to The Knights of the Golden Circle. Each of the individuals killed are done so in a method reminiscent of the presidential assassinations. Their actions all lead up to an assassination attempt on the current President of the United States, Orson Wallace. The fifth assassin, the Knight chosen to take out the current President, must be stopped at all costs, only Beecher White has the information to stop him.

Let me start off by saying I am a long time fan(atic) of Brad Meltzer, not only of his writing (including comic books!) but television shows as well. He is brilliant, providing readers (and viewers) a unique glimpse of something from history, forcing us to take a step back and reexamine everything we’ve believed or have been taught over the years.  He successfully does the same with The Fifth Assassin.  He does so with a tremendous amount of research, including interviews with previous Presidents. What makes Meltzer’s books stand out among others like him include this actual, verifiable research and a stellar cast of supporting characters.  Also, his brilliance is obvious but he isn’t cocky about it at all, instead simply wanting readers to look at history through a new set of lenses. Finally, fans of Meltzer’s previous novels like Inner Circle will be pleased to see the return of many of his famous characters.

While there are aspects of this story that may seem a bit far-fetched, I truly do not think this detracts from the overall appeal of this novel. Meltzer’s insane amount of historical factoids will draw in any fan of thrillers or history. It’s obvious that Meltzer knows his stuff, and this knowledge and confidence is the secret to his success as a writer, what continues to bring in readers book after book.

I listened to the audiobook production of this novel, as I have with all of Meltzer’s novels. Scott Brick has narrated each and everyone of them, and for good reason. Brick is a vocal genius, truly capturing the intensity and overall feel of the novel. Additionally, he captures the voices of each of the characters so precisely, producing unique voices for each of them, nearly making the listener forget that there is only one narrator. It’s no secret that I’m a long time fan of Scott Brick (actually discovering him via Brad Meltzer) and this is all due to his truly expert narration of nearly every and anything he reads.

I had the pleasure of meeting both Scott and Brad at Book Expo America a few years ago (and have since had the opportunity to hear them both speak again since). It was truly a dream come true: two men who I truly admire and for whom I hold a great deal of respect.

I could truly go on and on about his novel (and the narration!) but let me end with this: even if you are not a history buff, take a listen (or read) of any of Meltzer’s novels. I guarantee he will draw you in, causing you to rethink our nation’s history. Highly, highly recommended.

4 thoughts on “Audiobook Review: The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer

  1. I absolutely love Brad Meltzer’s TV show, but I haven’t read any of his books yet. I have this one waiting to be read, though! I’m glad to hear such good things about it.


    1. You should definitely start with The Inner Circle, just so you can get a grasp of the characters & their history. While there is some backstory provided in THE FIFTH ASSASSIN, I think you’d get a better understanding if you started at the beginning.



  2. I am a Brad Meltzer virgin. Wait, that didn’t sound right. You know what I mean. I must remedy this situation, especially after hearing the audio was so good. (I worry that suspense/mystery audios go too far into melodrama when overacted). Thanks, Jenn!


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