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Editorial Reviews

The heart-pounding action-packed audiobook thriller, The Cleaner, is written by highly-acclaimed crime thriller author Mark Dawson and is Book One in the phenomenal John Milton series narrated by professional voice artist David Thorpe. John Milton – the murderer hired by the government to do their dirty work. After 10 years in the game his conscience catches up with him and he wants out. His powerful boss isn’t about to let him. So begins a thrilling three-part chase through London where he sits in the middle as both the hunter and the hunted. Available now on Audible.

Publisher's Summary

Meet John Milton. He considers himself an artisan. A craftsman. His trade is murder. Milton is the man the government sends after you when everything else has failed. Ruthless. Brilliant. Anonymous. Lethal. You wouldn't pick him out of a crowd but you wouldn't want to be on his list.

But now, after 10 years, he's had enough - there's blood on his hands and he wants out. Trouble is, this job is not one you can just walk away from. He goes on the run, seeking atonement for his sins by helping the people he meets along the way.

But his past cannot be easily forgotten, and before long it is Milton who is hunted, and not the hunter. The Cleaner. A career of state-sanctioned murder has taken its toll. Milton is troubled by nightmares, a long line of ghosts who torment his dreams. He resolves to make his next job his last and, then, perhaps, he can start to make amends for everything that he has done.

Sharon Warriner is a single mother in the East End of London, suicidal with fear that she's lost her young son to a life in the gangs. After Milton saves her life, he promises to help. But the gang, and the charismatic rapper who leads it, is not about to cooperate with him.

As London burns through summer riots, Milton finds himself in unfamiliar territory, dealing with an unfamiliar foe. And when his employer sends another agent after him, the odds against him are stacked even higher.

©2013 Mark Dawson (P)2015 Audible, Ltd

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    321
  • 4 Stars
    415
  • 3 Stars
    210
  • 2 Stars
    69
  • 1 Stars
    48

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    434
  • 4 Stars
    315
  • 3 Stars
    137
  • 2 Stars
    43
  • 1 Stars
    31

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    284
  • 4 Stars
    337
  • 3 Stars
    217
  • 2 Stars
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    50
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Really fast paced and good story

John Milton the assasin is retired. He has let it be known he is out. And then, on his way home he notices a crowd shouting down at the tracks where his train was seconds away from arriving. A 30 something black woman is laying across the tracks. So he saves her. As fate would have it, she and her son would save him as well.

Suddenly an ex special forces assasin finds himself living in the ghettos of London where street gangs rule. He is there to help this woman save her teenage son from a life on the streets. Now that is what makes this story so intriguing. Great characters, believable story and yet tragedy remains in the end.

Milton, in this novel anyway, is almost like a Jack Reacher or Mitch Rapp, but with more humanity than super powers. But the premise has me thinking. What if the Government dropped special forces teams to violently wipe out all the gangs in LA and Chicago. These novels with super ex seals more or less advocate that. Collateral damages aside, gangs could be obliterated in weeks and it would protect thousands of lives and billions of dollars. The answer is that we are a nation of laws.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ted
  • Lancaster, PA, United States
  • 04-17-17

Sizzling Beginning: 15 Stars!

Okay; weed away the PC offenses of James Bond and swirl him into John LeCarre's world of ominous bureaucratic dread. Then charge the whole thing with seasoning from Tom Wood's 'Victor The Assassin' - add a big chunk of Ludlum's 'Jason Bourne' and finally swizzle-stick it into throb-mode with Mark Dawson's dystopian imagination. Finally, have David Thorpe create this ensemble at a talent level set on high-craft. And that's how much "The Cleaner" entertained me.

Warning... this is the first part of a 'John Milton' epic. I'm off to download "Saint Death" the second in this series. Usually I hate adventures that are not entirely stand-alone. But this one is so close to a single story, and it is so damned exciting... that I've transcended my normal crankiness.

Yep, I really liked "The Cleaner". 15 Stars!

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

High hopes but... I 'm disappointed

I hoped for a British Jonathan Quinn or maybe a little Victor the assassin. What I got was a lot of London teens from "the wrong side of the tracks" getting involved in crime with a little bit of "spy" on the DL thrown in for flavor. Very disappointing.
**Note: I didn't care for the narrator. I normally just deal with what I consider "intrusive narration," but I found Mr. Thorpe's performance too distracting. This is my first book of his, but in this case I didn't care his work. I might sample another in the future**
Overall I really wanted to like this book, but there is just too much "operative with a heart of gold" sitting on the side lines and not enough suspense / substance.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

left questions

I went back over several times to see what happened to the boy. never found an answer. That's disappointing!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

No Jack Reacher....

This book was touted as the next Jack Reacher in a review. While there are similarities, the story wasn't compelling. I probably won't continue this series.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Meet John Milton

Meet John Milton, once a soldier, then for many years, a government assassin. But John is tired. Plagued by painful memories and fighting alcohol dependency, he wants out and a quiet, normal life. He isn't going to get it.
In Milton, Mark Dawson has created a charismatic but troubled man trying to run away from a relentless past which will not let him go. And neither will his erstwhile employers. The book is exciting, well crafted and both the characters and places are fully developed with a light touch. I have to confess, I am a fan of this author, from his betrayed heroine of the Beatrix Rose series to the escalating drug chaos of the young lawyer in Subpoena Colada but , for me, Milton is his best creation yet.

A book can be made or destroyed by it's narration and, because I had previously read the book, there was also the fear that the pictures in my head would not fit with those offered to me by the reader. But no problem here. David Thorpe narrates clearly with an even pace. But he really excels when putting voices to the characters in conversation. Excellent.

I have no hesitation in recommending this audio book and I am most grateful to the author for gifting it to me in return for an honest review.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Slow

The Cleaner was ok but it was unexciting and seemed rather slow. Since this is book 1 might try another in the series to see if it is an improvement.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

John Milton is a walking disaster.

John Milton's involvement in the lives of the other characters failed to improve their lot in life. At the conclusion they were either burned and homeless, dead, or continuing on the road to ruin. The story left me dissatisfied with the principal character.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • sq
  • 06-03-16

Not a book about an assassin but a book about a kid joining a gang

This was a disappointment. I expected a book about an assassin. Instead if was about a kid and the gang he hung with. The so called assassin is a washed up alcoholic who quits the secret service. He moves to the bad side of town and tries to help the boy. For a guy that has killed 136 people, john Milton the assassin is woefully inept. This supposed super assassin has a hard time taking out a street gang lord and two of his cronies. The assassin who's supposed to kill the main character is also inept. He has the guy in his sights. Instead of pulling the trigger, he listens to the guy talk then is distracted and loses the upper hand...

This book is obviously written by someone who has very little knowledge of the trade. It was tedious. I listened to it at double speed just to get to the uninspired ending.

Try the john rain series or the victor the assassin series instead. They are much better.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Arlen
  • Placentia, CA, United States
  • 01-29-16

BORING

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Have Dick Hill read it. David Thorpe is horrible - I want my money back, it was that bad.

Would you ever listen to anything by Mark Dawson again?

Not if it is read by David Thorpe.

What didn’t you like about David Thorpe’s performance?

Absolutely nothing. He needs to find a new line of work.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The story could have been a good one except it went off the rails because the author mixed in too many traits that just don't happen in life with a character like John Milton. He made Milton go from a potential great good guy to an average dope that makes bad decisions.

Any additional comments?

The author could be on to something with his new character John Milton but if he ever hopes to compete for reader affection like we have for someone like Jack Reacher or Mitch Rapp, he needs to give John more backbone, more cunning, more committed to stopping evil. This first book just made John too passive even though he did accomplish a few necessary tasks, if you get my drift.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lucia
  • 11-05-16

Good but oddly unsatisfying

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I purchased this book because I'd listened to a later one in the John Milton series and had enjoyed it, so it made sense to start at the beginning. However, if my first introduction to the series had been with "The Cleaner", I don't think I would have bothered reading the rest of them. Without giving away any spoilers, I thought the ending was quite unsatisfactory and it didn't feel as if it had a proper conclusion. Actually, it was all a bit of a downer.

So, on that basis, I'm not sure that I would recommend "The Cleaner", rather I would say to my friend to give it a go on the basis that they do get better and this first book does provide a reasonable introduction to the hero, but not to have any big expectations that this will blow anyone's mind.

Would you recommend The Cleaner to your friends? Why or why not?

Despite the downer ending, I will say that "The Cleaner" introduces an interesting and compelling character in the form of John Milton. He's a more damaged, less suave James Bond type, but just as lethal. Some of the things he does do defy logic and it's not entirely clear sometimes what his motivation is... but he is engaging and has a fascination. Like I said above, if it hadn't been for the ending I would be recommending this to friends.

Have you listened to any of David Thorpe’s other performances? How does this one compare?

When I first started listening to David Thorpe I almost turned off the audiobook because he reminded me so much of the narrator in TV's Big Brother. It was so irritating. However, I persevered and he began to grow on me. In "The Cleaner" he is less Big Brother-like, so less irritating, or perhaps I just got used to it. One thing I will say is that he is absolutely brilliant with his accents and voices. I actually had to check how many narrators were on this book because they all sounded so different. I was totally impressed. Also, the voice he does for John Milton is perfect - he seems to really capture the essence of the character in the way he speaks, it's quite a delight to listen to (and just a bit sexy). So, the Big Brother issue aside (for which I've deducted one star), I do think David Thorpe does a great job overall.

Was The Cleaner worth the listening time?

Yes, although had I known how it was going to end I'm not sure I would have invested the time and effort. Having said that, "The Cleaner" does set up the rest of the series and having already read one of the later books I do know they get better, so I'm glad I've got this background into the character.

Any additional comments?

It's clear a lot of work and research has gone into this book and some of the gang characters really stand out. John Milton is very believable as the assassin trying to go straight, the typical anti-hero - but sometimes I did find some of the things he did a bit hard to understand and his motivation wasn't always that convincing. But, all that aside, the book did keep me entertained and rooting for the hero - in fact, I binged listened to the last couple of hours as the book began to reach its climax, so that must say something.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Yellow bookworm
  • 06-19-15

Mark Dawson cleans up with first John Milton novel

Mark Dawson's John Milton is an intriguing and captivating character, an assasin who has developed a conscience. I love tough guys and black ops units and this novel has the best. It is well-written, pacy and unexpected and also read beautifully. I thoroughly recommend it.

23 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Simon
  • 09-28-17

Stir The Formula To Get A Strong Character

I suspect I am going to like John Milton. Yes he looks like being another one of the super-skilled ex-military types living to his own moral compass and he isn't exactly the first of them. Any Child could tell you that. He does though have depth and inner conflict which feels as though it could carry this series forwards.

The story in this first one is a bit formulaic with well-worn themes such as the older guy trying to save kids from a violent gangland future through his boxing club. The otherwise good kid who gets drawn into the gangs and so on. Still, I enjoyed it well enough and David Thorpe did a surprisingly good job of bringing South London and its various denizens to life.

I don't think this is the greatest story but it's a long, long way from the worst and it sets up a potentially interesting lead for the rest the series.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • andy t
  • 08-24-16

2 in 1 First and Last

Any additional comments?

I purchased the book as an alternative to the Jack Reacher series and it does not come close the narrator with his gangsta dialogue was irritating and only when I sped it up could I continue.
As regards John Milton being a hero everything he touched fell to wreck and ruin and it was more a poor story about gang life than a thriller

I will not be looking for a second helping

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • ray reid
  • 12-02-16

What just happened?

Slow build, inconsistencies in the story line. Improbable scenarios and a ridiculously fast closure. Almost as if the author was writing the story as homework, and he finished it on the bus on the way to school.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Arthur Firth
  • 10-18-16

London Gangs Story

After 15 chapters and listening to Jafaican accents I could not listen to this book any longer. I did not buy this book to listen to a story about London gangs which were almost unintelligible . If I could have returned the book I would have done.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jo Lunt
  • 08-24-16

Enjoyable listen

I have listened to Mark Dawson's short introductory novels, which I really enjoyed. Loved this first full John Milton book. Took me a while to get into, but couldn't stop listening once I did!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 10-02-15

Great book, can't wait for number 2

If you could sum up The Cleaner in three words, what would they be?

awesome, realistic, gripping

Who was your favorite character and why?

milton

What does David Thorpe bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

just great, never listened to any book read by him before

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

gripping & compelling

16 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Farniboy
  • 08-14-16

A Very, British Equaliser.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Cleaner to be better than the print version?

I think they'd be the same. No fancy names or place names to get your tongue around.

What did you like best about this story?

Very fast moving and exciting if a little predictable. It takes elements of The Equaliser and The Wire, mixes in some contemporary social issues and (if some thing that happened 6 years ago could be described as historic) historical happenings and writes an exciting story

What does David Thorpe bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

A good solid reading.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made the pulse beat a little faster but it didn't make me laugh or cry.

Any additional comments?

A good start to the series. If they were on offer again I would buy more but I probably wouldn't use a full credit as it was quite short.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Reacher14
  • 08-01-16

Ok but a formulaic

Needs some more work maybe book 2 will improve. Slightly different to Ben Hope character by another other but similar in parts

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Casey
  • 07-02-16

Average

Would you try another book written by Mark Dawson or narrated by David Thorpe?

I wouldn't try another book written by Dawson. The story was predictable and bland.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Grahame
  • 04-14-16

Excellent listening

A first listen of this author and I was not disappointed. This storyline was well constructed and action packed from the get go. The characters were realistic and I was guilty of forming opinions of who I liked and did not like, I felt part of the story. I have since read/listened to 2 more books in this series and am contemplating listening to the next in the series. I think I am hooked on these characters and their ability to get in and out of trouble. For me the storylines are believable albeit in some instances a little stretched. The tough, self-confident, relatively unassuming, capable loner with a past seem to get me in. All up a great listen. David Thorpe is easy to listen to and he puts great effort into his characters voices and accents. His voices and the storyline make this an excellent choice for a listen in the car. Thumbs up!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rosemary Hughes
  • 04-23-17

He used his special skillset in aid of others.

I have returned to re read this book, by the audio rendition. I feel for the character John Milton, who after almost 2 decades of service to Queen and Country, is told me that there is no way he can resign from his position, as the country's no. I government hitman, or Cleaner.
John has had enough of the killing, especially when it concerns innocent children. He is plagued by dreams of different scenes of his life as a hitman, and with the slowing of his body as he has aged, together with the numerous aches from injuries and past broken bones, he knows that he is past his prime. All he wants to do, is walk away. Unfortunately, his Controller feels he's a threat, so sends out men to "retire" him.
John, becomes an aide to someone who is ready to give up on the pressures of life. He realizes that his special skillset may help those being stood over by various bullies in the suburbs. He can still make a difference.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Graham Buckton
  • 06-16-16

stay away from Hackney

a believable story told well with great accents. somewaht predicable but a nail biter nevertheless

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-12-16

Excellent narration, disappointing story

The characters did not behave consistently. they did random things that did not make much sense.