The Sinister
February 9, 2022

Book Review

The Sinister

reviewed by Lou Jacobs


Your granddaughter is gone and probably dead. The ransom exchange was horribly botched by the FBI and LAPD. There are no leads and the investigation is at a dead end.

Deputy Director of the FBI, Dan Chulack knows what must be done. He knocks on the hotel

door of his friend, Bruno Johnson, to whom he shows a photo of a small, vulnerable five-year-old girl with the sweetest smile and big brown eyes. Kids are Bruno’s achilles heel. He unspools the story of Emily Mosely, his granddaughter, kidnapped two weeks ago, along with her nanny, Lilian Morales. He knows only Bruno could accomplish what others could not. Only with his special type of street smarts and justice could closure be obtained and those responsible hunted down and proper justice be meted out.

Enter the violent and gritty world of Bruno Johnson. His name is spoken with reverence when uttered by his adversaries—known on the streets for his unwavering tenacity and violence while a member of the violent crime task force of Los Angeles. His law enforcement career began almost thirty years ago in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and led to two decades of service on the Violent Crimes Team, hunting down murderers. He even had to do a brief stint in prison for killing his daughter’s murderer.

Bruno finds himself in a weakened and compromised state having just signed himself out of the hospital; he’s still recovering from a bullet to the hip and chest. Chulack finds him at a most inopportune moment. Bruno and his pregnant wife, Marie, are planning to leave tomorrow for Costa Rica, to rejoin their cadre of twelve “saved” children. They have rescued and kidnapped the children from their abusive and hostile homes, and their efforts have achieved mythic proportions—referred to as an underground railroad for abused children. Regardless, Bruno does have outstanding warrants for kidnapping, which seem to go unchallenged and uncollected. Only Bruno can step over into the gray areas of enforcement to take down violent criminals, using whatever force necessary.

David Putnam proves to be a masterful storyteller as he weaves an intricate and convoluted series of catastrophic events together in a twisted and fast paced page-turner, that benefits from a cast of colorful multidimensional characters. In Bruno’s weakened state he needs to enlist the aid of his long-time friend and motorcycle gang washout, Karl Drago. Karl is a giant of a man, with the prowess and skill to complement his size. Karl’s faithful dog, Waldo, is frequently in tow. Who would argue with a one hundred and thirty pound Rottweiler who quickly responds to Karl’s multifaceted commands, meted out in guttural German? And, certainly not forgotten is the weaselly Howard Owsley, known affectionately as the “White Rat.” Known on the streets as “Whitey”, he’s a professional snitch and is an expert at obtaining important info that he readily trades to extricate himself from prison and other “sticky” situations.

This conman plays a very “dangerous game” exceedingly well and reluctantly keeps Bruno on the right path. Many other quirky characters lend this tale authenticity with the goal of righteous justice, rather than vengeance. Be prepared to enter a web of chaos and enjoy Putnam’s expert unravelling skills. This high octane and gritty gem is relentless and escalates in an exhilarating denouement. This gem is obviously penned by one who has lived the life. The finely honed characters will be ingrained in your memory long after you’ve finished the last page.

Although this is the ninth foray into the world of Bruno Johnson, it can be enjoyed and gobbled up as a stand alone, due to Putnam seamlessly supplying the necessary back story.

The exploits of Bruno Johnson rival those of Harry Bosch and Jack Reacher, and will certainly quench the thirst of action-thriller enthusiasts. Thanks to NetGalley and Oceanview Publishing for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review.

The Sinister available at:


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