Thursday, October 08, 2020

The Ruthless - David Putnam

I first encountered David Putnam's LA County Sheriff Bruno Johnson back in 2018 in The Innocents, a book that was clearly labeled “The Early Years: Book One.” But, honestly, I didn’t think much about that label at the time. In The Innocents Bruno is a brand new sheriff’s deputy whose first assignment is to work his way inside a group of dirty narcotics cops to help bust them – not a great way to start off a law enforcement career. Little did I know that my next encounter with Bruno would be 2021’s The Ruthless, the fourth and final “Early Years” book. 

The unusual thing about the Bruno Johnson series is that coming late to it may turn out to be as much a positive as a negative thing for readers. That’s because the first four books in the series (all published between 2014 and 2017) are “real time” novels in which Bruno is an ex-cop doing his best to save children from those who wish them harm. The “early years” books explain how Bruno became the man he is today, and why he is such a staunch children’s advocate. Consequently, readers who feel more comfortable reading a series in chronological order, may want to read the second four books in this so-far, eight-book series first. 

David Putnam
In The Innocents, Bruno only learns that he is a father when his ex-girlfriend knocks on his door and hands him a baby girl just a few weeks old. Never one to shirk responsibility, Bruno, with the help of his father, begins to raise the little girl. Now, in The Ruthless, that little girl, Olivia, has twin baby sons of her own, fathered by a street thug the world calls her common-law husband. To make matters worse, one of the little boys has disappeared, and Bruno can’t get any answers that make sense. 

Bruno Johnson is all about family, and as he sees it, not only has he failed to protect his daughter from the likes of Derek Sams, he hasn’t even managed to protect his innocent grandsons from the man. His home life already in tatters, Bruno is also on the outs with his longtime sheriff’s department partner, and is feeling guilty about the lies and half-truths he’s having to tell his father. And just when he thinks it can’t get any worse, two close friends of his, a superior court judge and the judge’s wife are brutally shotgunned to death inside their own garage. Bruno wants to fix all of it – or at least make someone pay – even if he ruins the rest of his life in the process. 

Bottom Line: Bruno Johnson is one of the most interesting and complex series characters to come along in a while. He is a man with a strong moral code who is willing to break that code for the greater good when it comes to that. He is a family man who loves his daughter, grandsons, and father more than he loves life itself. He is a black man operating in a world in which it sometimes seems that those on neither side of the law enforcement equation really trust him. And he’s definitely a man I want to know more about, so luckily for me I’ve barely scratched the surface of this intriguing series. I'll let you decide where you want to start the Bruno Johnson series, just get started, because this is not a series you want to miss out on. 

Review Copy provided by Oceanview Publishing


  1. Bruno Johnson sounds exactly like the kind of character I'd love reading many books about. :)

    1. I know that all of us have a bunch of series going at any given time, but if you have room for one more, I really recommend this one.

  2. Replies
    1. I can't figure out why this series is not more popular than it seems to be. Putnam is a really good writer, and he's very active on GoodReads, so I thought he would be better known by now. He certainly deserves to be.