The Diabolical
January 18, 2024
Book Review

The Diabolical

reviewed by Lou Jacobs


Embark on a thrilling roller coaster ride through the streets and alleys of Tamarindo, Costa Rica with David Putnam’s eleventh Bruno Johnson novel. In this gripping tale, Bruno will stop at nothing to ensure justice for his family and friends. This book stands alone, thanks to Putnam’s skill in weaving necessary backstory seamlessly into the narrative.


Bruno’s complex history began over thirty years ago with the violent crime task force in Los Angeles. Revered by his adversaries, he was known for his tenacious and sometimes violent approach to justice. His past includes a stint in prison for avenging his daughter’s murder. Now, he resides in Costa Rica with his wife, Maria, and their thirteen rescued children, saved from abusive homes in Los Angeles. Their efforts are legendary, likened to an underground railroad for abused children. Despite his fear of extradition and outstanding kidnapping warrants, Bruno remains unchallenged. Known for skirting the line in pursuit of criminals, he currently works under the alias ‘Gaylord’ at the Punta Bandera Hotel and Beach Club, ever vigilant against threats of extradition.

Bruno’s life takes a turn when his best friend, Karl Drago, marries his beautiful bride Layla on the beach, accompanied by his faithful Rottweiler, Waldo, trained to respond to German commands. Unbeknownst to Bruno, Karl entrusts him with Waldo’s care. Shortly after, he’s summoned to a crime scene by Chief Hernandez.

Chief Hernandez, aware of Bruno’s skills, requests his assistance at the scene of Tamarindo’s first-ever murder – a brutal shootout at the nightclub El Gato Gorda. Recognizing two of the victims, Bruno is drawn into the investigation, offering insights to help solve the case.

Meanwhile, Bruno contends with Otis Brasher, a regular at the bar, who hires him for protection. Bruno suspects Otis’s slovenly appearance is a disguise, doubting his story of being a white-collar criminal hiding out in Costa Rica. Complications escalate when the Russian mob mistakes Bruno for “The Genie,” a notorious diamond thief.

David Putnam proves his storytelling prowess, skillfully intertwining complex plotlines in this fast-paced, engaging novel. The book’s multidimensional characters add warmth, humor, and authenticity, reflecting Putnam’s deep understanding of law enforcement. This memorable tale, rich with well-crafted characters and a compelling plot, will linger with readers long after the final page.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Oceanview Publication for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review.

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