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Saint Death: 2 Audio CD – CD, 7 January 2020
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John Milton has been off the grid for six months. He surfaces in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and immediately finds himself drawn into a vicious battle with the narco-gangs that control the borderlands. He saves the life of an idealistic young journalist who has been targeted for execution. The only way to keep her safe is to smuggle her into Texas.
Working with the only untouchable cops in the city and a bounty hunter whose motives are unclear, Milton must keep her safe until the crossing can be made. But when the man looking for her is the legendary assassin Santa Muerta--Saint Death--that's a lot easier said than done.
Mark Dawson has worked as a lawyer and currently works in the London film industry. His first books, The Art of Falling Apart and Subpoena Colada, have been published in multiple languages.
- Publisher : Audible Studios on Brilliance; Unabridged edition (7 January 2020)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1978680902
- ISBN-13 : 978-1978680906
- Dimensions : 16.51 x 1.59 x 13.97 cm
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Top reviews from Australia
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Mark Dawson's Milton is, in contrast, two-dimensional and simplistic. Milton plays a quiet game until suddenly he strikes. But the baddies have been lining up since the start of the book. In this case it's Mexican drug cartel bosses.
I'm not sure I'll read any more.
Top reviews from other countries
While the protagonist, John Milton, is still a lost soul trying to do good in a bad world, the sort of people he found himself combatting were considerably more violent, and more professional in their violence, than the street gangs of Dalston and Hackney I met in the first book.
In “Saint Death” John Milton washes up in Cuidad Juarez, the city on the US/Mexican border that has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Here he finds himself taking on the Mexican drug traffickers that send their product across the border into the USA, making vast profits along the way. They control Juarez, have the police in their pocket and no one with any sense goes against them. So it’s easy to guess what John Milton does next.
There have been a lot of kidnappings and murders of young girls in the town and campaigning blogger Caterina earns the enmity of the biggest drug cartel by trying to expose them for these crimes. In fact it is only one cartel member, albeit a very senior one, who is responsible. He is the eponymous “Saint Death”.
Saint Death attempts to kill Caterina, her writing partner and one of the victims who escaped from Saint Death before she could be killed. John Milton comes to their aid, but only manages to save the life of Caterina, which earns him the dubious honour of becoming a new target for Saint Death. It is a race with the devil to try to get Caterina to a place of safety before Saint Death can find her – and Milton.
Meanwhile, back in London, a shadowy government department who are responsible for ‘retiring’ Britain’s enemies wants their former employee, John Milton, back. An employee of GCHQ is tasked with tracking him down by trying to find his digital presence. A task force of agents, just as skilled as Milton, is sent to Mexico to try to bring him home, giving him two problems to deal with. While his employers want Milton back alive, if that can’t be achieved then dead will do.
Overall this book has most of the qualities of a good thriller. Its pace is brisk, Milton is a believable protagonist and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep the reader turning the page to find out what happens next. Parts of the story require a considerable suspension of disbelief, but I actually found it easy to go along with for most of the time. The writing is good without becoming pretentious.
So why only four stars? Well, it could easily have been five, but I found the character of Saint Death a little bit under-written. We know he is a criminal, but we never get to see inside his mind and understand what makes him tick. He is bad because he is bad and we have to accept that. This isn’t a problem confined to just this book, it seems to be a common complaint, at least of mine. I really would like to understand why the bad guys are so bad, rather than having to accept them as they are. It gives them a very two-dimensional feel, which is unsatisfying. I don’t expect deep level psychoanalysis – just some sort of credible motivation that shows the reader why the bad guy is such a snarling sociopath.
Overall, however, this is an enjoyable read and just the sort of thing for lying by the swimming pool with a cold beer close at hand. I would recommend reading “The Cleaner” first, to get a handle on Milton’s character, but new readers can start from fresh with this second book without missing too much.
Milton works with one of the few honest cops, and his old bounty hunter acquaintance to try to keep her safe, but the titular Saint Death (Santa Muerta), is a notorious and legendary assassin, who will stop at nothing to fulfil his assignment. His previous employees are keen to pick up his trail as well.
As a second outing, this builds on Milton’s past. It’s not bad, but it does become a bit Ramboesque at some points, with Milton hosing down armies of men who, despite being employed as a de facto army seem unable to hit a barn door from five paces. But to be fair that’s a quibble that you should be able to live with if you want to read this type of novel. Still well written, and Milton develops a bit further as a character – I’ve got the third in the series already. I assume he is going to travel the world...
My particular likes about this novel are: it can easily be read as a 'stand-alone' story; the 'combat' scenes are very dramatic and so well described it is easy to imagine yourself right there in the midst of all the action; the portrayal of John Milton as he tries to come to terms with, and atone for his past while still retaining all the skills he acquired as a trained assassin; a relatively straight forward plot with few twists and turns to confuse the reader (even though it involves Mexican drug lords, the Italian Mafia, an American bounty hunter, a Russian mole, the Mexican police and the British secret service who, incidentally, are hunting for John Milton in order to permanently 'retire' him).
So I think you will enjoy 'Saint Death' if you like reading well-written, page-turning, action thrillers that feature a flawed central character who, in spite of his past, you cannot help but want to see win through against all odds. As for me, I have already downloaded the next book in the series to read.
But everything I had read about the author, and the series, jarred a little against the book I read.
All of that disappears in Saint Death. It is a pure genre thriller in a mold that I personally very much enjoy. It bears its comparison to Lee Child’s Reacher novels lightly, but it bears it none-the-less.
Milton is not a Reacher. He is a hero who shows his skills in brief flashes, between periods of luck or seeming ineptitude. But he shows those skills when required, and when he isn’t pulling the story forward at pace, someone else is.
In Saint Death those others are the bounty hunter Beau Baxter and the Mexican cop Jesus Plato, both of whom had me seriously worried for their safety during the course of the book. Baxter in particular, reminded me of Virgil Flowers from the John Sandford books. As well as these extremely relatable side characters, there’s also the start of a couple of complicating subplots and the development of a near superhuman, albeit fallible, protagonist.
So far, Child still stands alone. The sparseness of Reacher as a hero, and the stand-alone nature of nearly every book, make him difficult to top. At least within this niche sub-genre. There is always jeopardy. There are always casualties and there is always a deeper theme, but at the heart of the stories, there is a straightforward journey. There are bad people. They are discovered. They are punished.
Dawson is in the same league. For this reader that’s a great thing. It’s true, if you like Jack Reacher, you should indeed try John Milton
In this outing Milton gets more opportunity to showcase his skills and it shows you why he is the number one ‘cleaner’ at Group 15.
One thing I am confused by is the title, Saint Death is according to the books back page a legendary assassin. I might have completely missed something here but other than a scene in the hospital where he shows up to silence the journalist, there appears to be no real reference to him at all again. I can only deduce that Adolpho is ‘Saint Death’ but he isn’t any type of legendary assassin more disturbed son of the cartels boss Felipe (El Patron).
In spite of my slight confusion here, I’ll certainly be moving on to The Driver next.