The fourth installment of this series sees John still running from the Group, but also united with former enemies now turned instable allies.
It’s a classical trope in thriller literature, where friend becomes enemy, and enemy becomes friend – and maybe turn to enemy again. Or maybe in the world of spycraft and international assassins, there aren’t really any friends, just coalitions. For a time.
I was returning from reading a lot of urban fantasy novels in a string, so I needed something rooted more in reality to ground me again. Not rooted too much in reality, mind you, because thrillers of this variety need a hero slightly bigger than life.
What makes John Milton – as a character and series – so good is the fact that he’s not the Uber hero of some other novels. He’s highly trained and dangerous, but he has his flaws, and I love the fact that Mark went with an alcohol problem for his protagonist. Throughout every novel John visits AA meetings, and that helps keep him grounded. It’s also a neat trick to make the reader feel for him. It works, so I’m not complaining here.
Aside from that, John finally happens to be a badass again. What follows the short introduction is a trip around the world and the usual double play you would expect from this kind of genre.
Thrillers like that are, as I’ve mentioned before, not too rooted in reality. But there is a certain turn of events near the end of the book (around the 85 % mark) involving a side character that is really highly unlikely even within the confines of this story (stage 4 cancer isn’t a laugh). A tad too much, so too say, and it looks a little too constructed, too much like a deus ex machina.
I don’t hold with that kind of nonsense, even in series I like. So that’s worth a reduction in the rating. Because while it is exactly the kind of spiel you would expect from elite assassins, one of the characters have been shown prior to that to be unable to go through with this kind of action. It feels like Mark had written himself into a corner and then took the easy way out. Shoddy, that is. (I later learnt that he turned the Deus into her own series. Oh well.)
3.5 stars, rounded down this time for rating systems without half stars. It’s not a bad book, but it’s not outstanding either. It’s solid entertainment for the thriller lovers.
2 replies on “Ghosts (John Milton #4), by Mark Dawson”
Glad you got some enjoyment out of this one, although it disappointed in some areas.
Honest and thorough review, as usual. Better luck on your next read, Stefan!
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Ah, it was entertaining enough. I’m taking a short trip back to the discworld now, and after that I’ll be back to the thriller genre.
Mix it up, you know. 😁