Former British Secret Service agent John Milton was once an artisan of murder, a ruthless and brilliant operative who carried out the government’s most covert and dangerous missions when all else had failed. Anonymous and lethal, he operated in the shadows, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. However, after a decade of this life, Milton decided he had had enough.
Now, John Milton is on a mission of a different kind–to make amends for his past deeds. He’s taken to the road, seeking redemption and a chance to leave his violent past behind. Yet, trouble has a way of finding him, and he is inevitably drawn into dangerous situations.
How to read the John Milton Series in Order?
a. Prequel stories to the John Milton books
At the moment, there are two prequels short stories, and one novel to the John Milton book series. Maybe not the best way to start the story. If you like the novels, you can come back to them.
- 1000 Yards – John Milton is sent into North Korea. With nothing but a sniper rifle, bad intentions and a very particular target, will Milton be able to take on the secret police of the most dangerous failed state on the planet?
- Tarantula – John Milton is sent to Italy to investigate the death of a colleague from Group 15, the secret assassination squad that liquidates those considered to be impediments to the furtherance of British interests. Milton identifies the assassin as a man nicknamed Tarantula. Now Tarantula, and his boss, are entries in Milton’s ledger. And all debts need to be paid.
- Sleepers – (Set one week before the opening of The Cleaner) When a Russian defector is assassinated in a sleepy English seaside town, Group Fifteen agents John Milton and Michael Pope find themselves in a rush to uncover the culprits and bring them to justice. Their investigation leads them to Moscow and a confrontation with Directorate S. When lies and double crossing mean that no-one is what they seem, the two agents struggle to achieve their goals under the most dangerous of circumstances.
b. The main John Milton series in order
- The Cleaner – After ten years, John Milton has 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.
- Saint Death – 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.
- The Driver – John Milton has a job driving a taxi around the streets of San Francisco. He has his anonymity and his solitude. Being invisible has become a comfortable habit. He doesn’t want to be found. But when a girl he drives to a party goes missing, Milton is worried. Especially when two dead bodies are discovered and the police start treating him as their prime suspect.
- Ghosts – When John Milton is arrested following a brawl in a Texas bar, the last person he expected to bail him out was a glamorous operative from the Russian Secret Service. Milton is blackmailed into finding his predecessor as Number One. But she’s a ghost, too, and just as dangerous as him.
- The Sword of God – John Milton treks through the Michigan wilderness into the town of Truth. He finds himself up against a small-town cop who has no idea with whom he is dealing, and no idea how dangerous he is. But Milton is double-crossed and badly injured. Unarmed and alone, he flees into the remote Porcupine Mountains with a posse on his tail.
- Salvation Row – John Milton finds himself in Louisiana with a debt of honor to repay. Isadora Bartholomew, who saved his partner’s life, needs his help. Joel Babineaux, a ruthless property magnate, is out to sink the charity she established to help rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward. Just when Milton thinks he has neutralized Babineaux’s scheming, a dangerous man from his past takes an unhealthy interest in his present.
- Headhunters – John Milton thought he was done with Avi Bachman since he has been incarcerated in Angola, the brutal Louisiana prison. Inmates rarely leave Angola. Milton is in the Australian outback with an old friend and his flirtatious kid sister, looking for a summer’s peace to put his troubled mind to rest. But Bachman has other plans. He thinks that Milton killed his wife, and now he wants revenge.
- The Ninth Step – John Milton is keeping a low profile in London when he meets Eddie Fabian. Fabian confesses that he is considering suicide, and that the reason for his depression was the abuse that he suffered as a child. Milton offers to help, but, before he can, Eddie is found dead in circumstances that Milton considers suspicious. And then events take a turn that no-one could have anticipated…
- The Jungle – After John Milton meets a refugee who lost a sister to people smugglers, he travels through war-torn Libya and the murkiest parts of Italy and France to get the girl back. As enemies watch his every move, Milton confronts a group of Albanian pimps and smugglers so dangerous, they could easily make this mission his last.
- Blackout – John Milton follows a lead to Manila that he hopes will change his life. But he never expected to wake up in an unfamiliar hotel room beside a murder victim. And, unfortunately for him, Milton doesn’t remember a thing about the night before. Thrown into a gruesome Filipino prison, he puts together the clues that led to his betrayal.
- The Alamo – John Milton has finally found a place to escape the bloodshed: off-season Coney Island. No tourists. No special ops. Just peace and quiet. But when a local boy witnesses a grisly murder, Milton can’t resist investigating. Milton uncovers a vicious drug kingpin and a group of crooked cops from a notorious precinct known as “The Alamo.”
- Redeemer – John Milton is in Rio de Janeiro, staying with an old army friend who runs a private security company. When one of the bodyguards doesn’t turn up for work, Milton offers to stand in. The job is routine: take the wife and daughter of an anti-corruption judge to a school recital. What could possibly go wrong?
- Twelve Days – John Milton hasn’t seen Elijah Warriner for three years. Now Elijah is a promising boxer, preparing for the bout that will take him to the big time. Milton decides that he will spend the week before Christmas in London so that he can watch the fight. But Elijah’s burgeoning fame has brought him to the attention of old acquaintances with long memories and grudges to bear. They have noticed Elijah, too, and decide that now is the time to settle old scores.
- Bright Lights – Heading from San Francisco to Las Vegas, John Milton’s solo road trip takes an unexpected turn when he picks up Jessica Russo, a young woman in distress at the side of the road. She urgently needs a ride and he’s happy to help her out.
- The Man Who Never Was – Beau Baxter was brutally murdered by a drugs cartel but that doesn’t stop John Milton from blaming himself for his friend’s death. With the help of a trusted team of undercover experts and Beau’s son, Milton is determined to track down the killers. And he isn’t just after the man who gave the order. He’s heading right for the top.
- Killa City – John Milton came to Kansas City hoping to find a way out of danger. His recent vendetta against a cartel hitman who killed his friend has made him enemies in high places. Now he needs to find the only man who can get him out of this mess. But, like a moth to a flame, Milton is drawn to anyone who needs his help. And this time, he’s also drawing the attention of money laundering criminals who really mean business.
- Ronin – In his quest to stay off-grid, John Milton heads to a friend who owes him a favour in Bali. But a chance encounter with the beautiful and enigmatic Sakura Nishimoto brings him even more unwanted attention. He’s barely off the plane before he’s being pursued by the police. And worse, he’s on the radar of the Japanese yakuza.
- Never Let Me Down Again – John Milton travels to Scotland in search of a missing man. What he discovers there is more than he expected, and might be more than he can handle. As enemies old and new close in on all sides, what is Milton prepared to sacrifice in order to find justice for a group of exploited workers and to save the life of his friend?
- Bulletproof – Captured and imprisoned by the organization he once worked for, John Milton must do one last job in exchange for his freedom. Bullheaded billionaire fixer Tristan Huxley is brokering a weapons deal between Russia and India. He needs protection and he wants Milton by his side. Huxley has trusted Milton with his life before but these days his world is more decadent and his enemies more dangerous, in ways that nobody could ever have suspected.
- The Sandman – When an inmate is found unresponsive in his high security cell at Belmarsh prison, he’s rushed to hospital for treatment. The prisoner is human trafficker and international fixer Tristan Huxley, a man a lot of people have good reason to want dead. But Huxley mysteriously never makes it to the hospital. He may have plenty of enemies but it seems he has some very powerful friends too. Huxley’s disappearance is bad news for anyone who betrayed him. One of those people is John Milton. Originally assigned to protect Huxley, things turned sour when he discovered the disturbing truth about his old friend’s activities. Huxley isn’t someone who forgives and forgets. But neither is Milton – when someone deserves punishment, he’s compelled to deliver it, no matter where in the world that journey takes him.
- Uppercut – While looking for information on the Group Fifteen agent who betrayed him in Russia, John Milton works in a hotel kitchen. His intentions are thrown off course when a tragic gunshot puts an innocent little girl in his way. He rescues the child with the help of an enigmatic lady he meets at the hotel and plunges headfirst into a violent war between two criminal families feuding in the lead-up to a high-stakes MMA bout.
- Bloodlands – John Milton is on a quest that will pit him against both old and new foes in a world where allegiances are ill-defined and fickle. The two men are drawn back into the network of global espionage when their comrade Alex Hicks begins to be followed by unidentified foes. Milton will do anything to defend his friends and uncover a plot that might topple countries and damage international security as he navigates a treacherous road that runs from the war-torn streets of Ukraine to the cold wastelands of Siberia. Can Milton outsmart his most powerful adversaries yet as Russian intelligence begins to fall apart from within and a fresh, unanticipated threat emerges?
If you like the John Milton reading order, you may also want to check out our guide to the Jack Reacher books, or to the Mitch Rapp series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.