If you are looking for some of the best spy thrillers in the world, then you need to read the books by Mark Dawson! Whether you are reading his John Milton series, his Beatrix Rose and Isabella Rose series, or his stand alone books, you will certainly enjoy his take on the spy genre.
Born and raised in Suffolk, Mark Dawson became a lawyer in the 1990s and worked full time either suing newspapers for libel on behalf of celebrities or hunting money launderers while writing books in his spare time. After his first three books busted, he began working at the British Board of Film Classification and gave ratings to the media. While there, he learned about self-publishing from a friend and began to self-publish his books, finally getting the success he wanted and that led to the creation of one of his best characters.
And with all the benefits that self-publishing has given him and his business, he also created several courses to teach other authors how to self-publish and market their books. So let’s get started learning about Mark Dawson and the characters he has created!
The Art Of Falling Apart (2001)
This book seeks the rock band Dystopia having conquered the European music market, and they now set their sights on America, only to discover internal problems have followed them to the new continent, and threaten to tear the three-man group apart. As they wrestle with their problems, one of them dies, and the dark problems following the band take on a murderous intent as each member confronts their past and their desires for the future.
This book isn’t the spy thriller that Mark Dawson is known for, however, if you are the type of person who wants to see the debut novel and Dawson’s early work, then check out The Art Of Falling Apart!
Subpoena Colada (2001)
Daniel Tate has lost his girlfriend, lives in a dinghy flat, and has a one-eyed cat and a failing lawyer business. The only client he has, the rocker Brian Fey, has a court case against his fellow bandmates and he is losing. With his reputation and inter-office politics on the line, Daniel Tate is pushed to the limit whenever his client gets implicated in a murder.
Drawing on the author’s experience as a lawyer, Subpoena Colada is another good book to read if you like to see the early work of Dawson.
The Cleaner (2013)
This is the first book starring John Milton, who is a cleaner for the government and is the type of man to make people disappear. However, when he leaves a mess behind at a botched job, John is forced to hide for the first time in his life and vanishes into London’s East End. He quickly discovers his skills can be put to use helping a family caught between two rival gangs in an increasingly bloody turf war.
However, as he meets violence with violence, it brings him to the sight of the government. Who quickly sends their best killer to clean the cleaner, forcing John into a bloody showdown just to stay alive.
This is the book where Mark Dawson starts to hit his stride as a spy-thriller writer, so be sure to give The Cleaner by Mark Dawson a read!
Saint Death (2014)
Having vanished again, John Milton reappears in Mexico, attempting to navigate the corruption of the local law establishment and the warring drug gangs in the borderlands. But when Milton saves the life of a journalist that has a target on her back, he’s forced to race to Texas with the aid of the uncorrupt cops in Mexico as well as a bounty hunter with his own agenda as they all race against time and the assassin: Santa Muerta – Saint Death.
If you couldn’t get enough of John Milton, then Saint Death is a book you need to read, and you won’t be able to put it down!
The Driver (2014)
Being a Taxi driver in San Franciso is a great job if you like to be alone and anonymous, and John Milton wants to be both of those things. However, when a girl he drives to a party goes missing and he becomes the prime suspect when bodies start to turn up, he decides to investigate himself and finds himself drawn into a web of secrets and death as he tries to find his passenger.
The Driver takes John Milton to the States, where new challenges await and new action tests his skills in this latest installment!
John Milton didn’t expect to be arrested after a Texas bar brawl, and he didn’t expect the person to bail him out to be a beautiful woman who happens to work for the Russian Secret Service. But the mysteries deepen when the Russians blackmail him into trying to find his predecessor, an assassin just as dangerous as he is, and a ghost. To save his oldest friend, John Milton will need to pit all his enemies against one another just to survive.
Ghosts take John Milton back into the world of political spy work, and you won’t want to stop reading until you discover who the ghost is!
The Sword of God (2014)
While stopping over in the town of Truth in Michigan, John Milton just wants a place to rest. But trouble finds him when a small-town cop makes the mistake of going up against him. However, after a sadistic double cross, Milton finds himself wounded, alone, and without a weapon as his enemies close in. However, in the mountains, John Milton is fully prepared to fight back, much to his enemies’ regret.
The Sword of God sees John Milton at his weakest, but he isn’t helpless and you will have to read to see how he gets out of this scrape!
Salvation Row (2014)
When John Milton tries to make amends in the world of post-Katrina of Lousiana, he finds the charity of an old friend under siege by a ruthless property magnate. Seeking to repay his friend, he goes after the property magnate, only to discover a ruthless threat from his past has taken an interest in his present, and might make the stakes even higher for Milton’s act of kindness.
A simple act of friendship turns into John Milton’s hardest struggle yet in Salvation Row and you won’t want to put the book down until you see its end!
In Cold Blood (2015)
Stepping into the shoes of the new government assassin Beatrix Rose, this book sees Rose working as the most dangerous fighter in a government kill squad. However, after being ambushed and betrayed by her team, she is forced to flee underground to the underworld of Hong Kong. Returning years later, she sets her sights on ending the lives of the six people who betrayed her. At any cost.
In Cold Blood does bring us a new character, but all the old action and amazing storytelling that all those who read Dawson’s work have come to expect!
The Angel (2015)
Whenever an Underground carriage in London is targeted by a suicide bomber and destroyed, the head of Group 15: Micheal Pope doesn’t think that it was an isolated incident and he is authorized to find the leader of the assault. However, as he follows the trail of money and bodies, he decides he needs help. The help of the Angel, Isabella Rose.
Isabella Rose is the daughter of Beatrix Rose, and if you liked the mother then you will love the daughter as you read her debut in The Angel.
Blood Moon Rising (2015)
Returning to Beatrix Rose for this second book, she continues her quest to take down her traitorous team and their corrupt commander. Two of the six names on her list have been crossed off, and number three is in her sights. However, he’s in Iraq, surrounded by mercenaries, and very hard to get to. And even if Beatrix Rose manages to kill her target, she might find that getting out of Iraq is the hard part.
If you are invested in the world of Beatrix Rose and her hunt for vengeance against those who betrayed her, then you need to read Blood Moon Rising!
Blood And Roses (2015)
Four of the six names on Beatrix’s Rose’s kill list are crossed off, but the other two know she is coming and have fortified themselves with the most powerful private army on the planet. Plus, they are launching attacks on Beatrix to turn her into the hunted. As the battle goes worldwide, Beatrix Rose faces long odds, but this time she has help… her daughter Isabella Roses.
For the last two names on the kill list as well as seeing mother and daughter fight side by side, you are going to need to pick up Blood and Roses!
Avi Bachman was the most dangerous man in the world, a member of the Mossad, and one of the toughest enemies John Milton ever faced. But now he’s in an inescapable prison and Milton is in Australia with old friends to get some much-needed rest. But when Bachman not only escapes, but calls in a few favors to aid him in his revenge, Milton is forced to travel the world until the two headhunters collide for a final showdown.
Headhunters takes us back to the word of John Milton as he faces an enemy every bit as tough as he is, and you will have to keep turning the pages to see how this rivalry ends!
The Asset (2016)
Micheal Pope needs to find Isabella Rose, just one issue… she’s been kidnapped! Finding her abductors is hard enough, but when her kidnappers get kidnapped by ISIS, Micheal Pope needs to follow their trail to war-torn Syria and Turkey, dealing with the harsh realities of war along the way. But no matter what, he needs to find the Angel and get back to London before it goes up in flames.
The Asset continues the story of Isabella Rose and Micheal Pope, and it has a ton of twists and turns that you won’t see coming as you go page to page!
The Ninth Step (2016)
John Milton is attempting to soothe his sins in London, and meets another troubled soul named Eddie who is battling depression and thoughts of suicide due to child abuse when he was young. Before Milton can help, Eddie is found dead and the death was not by his own hand. As Milton investigates the circumstances around Eddie’s death, he discovers interference at both the highest levels of government and the lowest levels of the underworld, and they discover just how dangerous Milton can be.
The Ninth Step is a book that will keep you up at night as both you and Milton attempt to investigate the circumstances that lead to Eddie’s death!
The Jungle (2016)
As John Milton fights a human trafficking ring the underbelly of London, he runs into a refugee who lost his sister to smugglers and wants to hire John to get her back. The journey takes him from Libya to Italy to France to get her back, but the ring is well organized, and not pleased about having a stranger tear down their operation, and they start to make it very difficult for Milton to escape alive.
To see Milton escape The Jungle, you need to give it a purchase and read the adventure for yourself!
The Agent (2017)
With the pair being hunted and Micheal Pope’s family on the line, Pope and Isabella Rose are in hiding, but the time has come to strike back at their various enemies. From the slums of Mumbai to the city of Shanghai, the pair rush to save their loved ones, seek answers, and get some much-needed revenge in the process.
The Agent ends the Isabella Rose trilogy, and it certainly ends with a bang so don’t be afraid to start reading it!
The Blackout (2017)
Whenever John Milton goes to Manila to figure out a new lead, he expects his life to change, and it does. When he wakes up in an unfamiliar hotel next to a dead body, he soon finds himself arrested for the crime and thrown into a Filipino prison. As he investigates the clues that caused him to land in the prison, he’s forced to confront the situation he is in to escape the prison and take his revenge on those who caused him to blackout.
The Blackout will have you following John around as he struggles to put the clues together, and you will be constantly turning the pages to see how the book ends!
The Alamo (2017)
After having fought his way across the world, John Milton has found himself in off-season Coney Island in New York. It’s a time to escape the bloodshed and just get some much-needed rest until a local child witnesses a murder and Milton finds himself getting involved. A drug Kingpin and a cadre of crooked cops soon get involved, and when they cross paths with the most dangerous ex-assassin Britain has, Coney Island is going to see fireworks unlike anything else.
While not set in San Antonio, the Alamo features plenty of last stands and epic battles and it makes it a wonderful read.
The Assassin (2018)
Heading back to Isabella Rose in Juarez Mexico, our heroine finds herself in the most dangerous city in the world seeking to break down the local cartel. However, when her quest goes wrong, Isabella Rose finds herself on the wrong side of the law and stuck behind prison bars, forced to turn to her worst enemy for help.
The British agent Vivian Bloom races to Mexico to find the Angel and the Asset, but with the Cartel, United States agents, and a group of hidden figures called Prometheus circling the waters, Isabella Rose will find herself in her hardest battle yet while trying to be the Assassin.
While the city of Rio de Janeiro is considered to be a marvelous city by the local Brazilians, John Milton knows that crime is festering underneath all the glamor. Taking a job for an old friend, he needs to guard the wife and daughter of a hard-on crime judge, which quickly goes wrong when the daughter is kidnapped and Milton is almost killed.
Now John Milton seeks revenge and dives into the seedy underbelly of Rio de Janeiro to find the girl and punish the gangs who have caused the problems in the city. And John Milton might just become a Redeemer too, but to find out you should read the book!
When John Milton and Micheal Pope are assigned to investigate a Russian defector’s assassination in a small town, they discover that the Russian government might have more to tell about the event than they first let on. However, as the lies and secrets and double-crosses quickly pile up, the two agents find themselves fighting for their lives to get to the truth.
Sleepers is set right before the first John Milton book the Cleaner, and it takes Milton back to his beginnings and his barely functioning roots, which can make it a very interesting read!
Twelve Days (2018)
When John Milton reunites with Elijah Warriner after three years, the boy has become a promising boxer and is working on a bout that will take him to the big leagues. While Milton stays to watch the fight, he isn’t the only one. Because Elijah has several enemies with long memories, and they see the boy’s fame as a chance to take revenge, forcing Milton into the role of protector.
Twelve Days will see John Milton playing defense as he makes sure that Elijah makes his title bout, so give it a read!
Bright Lights (2019)
John Milton’s entire journey has been about seeking redemption for his acts as Britain’s deadliest assassin, and as he finds himself driving toward Las Vegas, he picks up a young woman on the side of the road. But this young woman has a secret, as her father is wrapped up with some very dangerous people in the Vegas Casinos, and as Milton tries to help, he is also forced to confront his own demons… while trying not to become them.
For John Milton, the Bright Lights of Vegas might just illuminate the darkness inside of him, and as you read you will need to see if John Milton is a hero or a villain.
The House In The Woods (2020)
Introducing new characters in a brand new environment, DCI Mackenize Jones encounters a murder at Christmastime that doesn’t look like what it seems as a family is found dead. While it looks like a murder-suicide, Jones doesn’t think so and neither does private investigator Atticus Priest. As the two investigate the case from opposite sides, both are forced to confront one another’s weaknesses, their feelings for one another, as well as the real truth of the murder.
The House In The Woods is more of a detective and crime story than the regular spy thrillers, but these stories and characters are certainly going to be instant classics!
The Man Who Never Was (2020)
John Milton has done a lot to keep himself hidden and secret in the world, but now he is forced to put on a different mask when an old friend is murdered by a drug cartel. Aided by his friend’s son and a team of undercover experts, John finds his way to the drug cartel, but isn’t content with just the dealers.
Instead, he wants to go to the top and starts climbing the rungs of the cartel hierarchy to find those at the top of the food chain. However, as Milton finds himself delving deeper and deeper into the underground, he also has a risk of losing who he is. Instead of being John Milton, he might have to become The Man Who Never Was.
Killa City (2020)
You don’t get to be one of the best assassins in the world without noticing a few things, and John Milton is the best. When a car auction leads to a confrontation between a young man and some thuggish types, John can’t help but investigate the coming storm in Kansas City. However, with pursuing cartel hitmen, money laundering criminals, and disappeared friends making the task even harder, Milton might find that this case was one he shouldn’t have gotten involved in.
Heading to Killa City might have been one of the worst decisions that John Milton has made, so you’ll have to see what happens to him in the book!
While the identity of John Smith might seem easily noticeable to us, for John Milton it has been a wonderful cover identity that has kept him safe. But when Group Fifteen finally gets on his trail, he is forced to burn that name and adopt a new one. However, when he heads to Japan to find an old friend, he quickly encounters a beautiful woman who turns out to bring trouble to his door, in both the form of the police and the yakuza.
On the run and searching for a brand new name, John Milton might just find that being a Ronin isn’t all it is cracked up to be!
A Place To Bury Strangers (2021)
When Mackenzie Jones uncovers news of a human bone in Salisbury, she calls in Atticus Priest and the pair soon find a village graveyard is the bone’s original point of origin. However the graveyard has been abandoned and the bone is a recent one, leading them to conclude that someone is using the graveyard to keep secrets buried. Additionally, Atticus’s current case to aid a father in tracking down a missing daughter leads him to lies, gang violence, and an eerie connection to the graveyard, and it might also take these two into the very heart of the English government itself.
A Place To Bury Strangers will have you pulling on all the threads to solve this complex case, so don’t be afraid to buy the book and start tugging!
Never Let Me Down Again (2021)
When John Milton decides to chase down his past as a captain in the U.S. Army in Iraq, he decides to seek out Major Connor Gordon, the man who paid the price for his mistakes. As he seeks out both Gordon as well as a missing human rights activist, he finds his strength and resolve pushed to the limits as he encounters the problems of his past and the uncertainty of his future.
Never Let Me Down Again is a book you won’t want to put down until you see the ending, and the results of John Milton actively chasing down his past.
John Milton has spent his entire life running from his demons, his enemies, and his past, seeking to atone by performing good deeds. But now his enemies have caught up with him, and he is captured by the very organization he used to work for: Group 15. Group 15 offers Milton the chance to be a free man if he provides protection for a billionaire who is presiding over a weapons deal.
However, as the case gets harder and the enemies get more muddled, John Milton needs to wonder just how much he wants a clean slate, and what he is willing to do to get it. Bulletproof is a book that feels like an ending for Milton, and that’s enough to keep you turning the pages.
The Sandman (2022)
When the billionaire from Bulletproof winds up unresponsive in prison, and then vanishes on his way to the hospital, John Milton is forced to confront his decisions from the previous book and move to track the disappeared inmate down. But this billionaire has powerful friends and plenty of enemies who want to take him down. As John Milton rushes to complete the job first, he finds that the hunt might not be as satisfying as the kill.
The Sandman won’t be putting you to sleep as you continue John Milton’s story, and you’ll have to keep turning the pages to see how things work out.
Do I Need To Read John Milton’s Books In Order?
With plenty of recurring characters, themes, and events crisscrossing all of his novels, you might wonder if you need to read these books in any particular order. Bulletproof and The Sandman take place one after the other, and the Beatrix and Isabella Rose series is chronological. However, while characters are recurring, for the most part, the events of the novels are standalone.
Do I Need To Read Beatrix and Isabella Rose’s Series In Order?
For the series of Beatrix Rose and her daughter Isabella, each five-book series should be read in order of publication. For Beatrix, the series shows her hunt against the team that betrayed her, and each book sees her making more progress. And Isabella’s series has her and Micheal Pope attempting to take down a conspiracy.
Do The Main Characters Ever Crossover?
Yes! For starters, Group 15, the group of assassins that John Milton was originally a part of, shows up in most of the books as either antagonists or protagonists, and they play a massive role in the vignette series “Group Fifteen.” Additionally Milton and Micheal Pope (from Isbella Rose) cross over in the book Sleepers and Milton and Beatrix Rose crossover in the novella Phoenix. Finally, since they are mother and daughter, Beatrix and Isabella Rose often appear together
Will There Be A Third Book In The Atticus Priest Series?
While Mark Dawson knows how to write spy thrillers, many fans have embraced the detective antics of Atticus Priest and Mackenzie Jones across their two books. At the time of this writing the 3td book in the series “The Red Room” hasn’t been released, but it will put both characters against a killer who is publishing the dirty laundry of the murder victims to the press.
Who Writes Like Mark Dawson?
If you have read all of Mark Dawson’s works and still want more, then you need to read Lee Child because John Milton has been favorably compared to Jack Reacher.