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.
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.
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Good but oddly unsatisfying
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wished for a better end