Monday 5 February 2018



Reminiscent of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch

The Early Years: Book One

Bruno Johnson, a newly minted LA County Sheriff Violent Crimes detective, gets the worst assignment possible—infiltrate a sheriff’s narcotics team that may be involved in murder for hire. Gain their trust and be brought into the scheme. If he succeeds, he will have to arrest and testify against his fellow deputies—if he lives that long.

To make matters worse, before Bruno leaves home on the first day of this assignment, he answers the door to find an ex-girlfriend. Without explanation, she hands him a baby girl only weeks old. The child is his. Stunned and terrified, he now faces immediate fatherhood as well as the traitor-like charge to take down his colleagues.

Juggling his complex home life, Bruno tackles his assignment to discover that no one is who they seem to be and that his boss, Lieutenant Wicks, might be involved. His mission is further complicated when an attractive female deputy, recently transferred from Public Affairs, is also put on the case. She has no street experience, and Bruno carries the extra burden of watching her back—a tough assignment made tougher by personal attraction.

As Bruno gets deeper and deeper into the corruption, he doesn't know whom to trust, and in the end, confides in the wrong person.

The Innocents is the fifth book from author Dave Putnam featuring Bruno Johnson and is a prequel, covering an early period in Bruno's law enforcement career. Johnson is recruited to a violent crimes unit and soon after is sent undercover at the behest of the hierarchy to try and gain evidence of police corruption and wrong-doing, specifically cops carrying out hits.

It's a thankless task. The two targets, Ricky Blue and Thibodeaux are manipulative, but effective cops and highly suspicious. Thibodeaux takes an instant dislike to Bruno which adds to his sense of isolation. A fourth member of the team, Chelsea Miller, an attractive female isn't someone Bruno immediately trusts, fearing her involvement with the unit might also be a strategic placement by some higher-ups.

Bruno has only been given a limited version of the truth concerning the operation. His boss, Robbie Wicks has a personal vendetta going on with Blue - Blue stole his wife. Bruno can't help but feel he is a pawn in someone else's game. His home life has been recently disrupted with an ex-girlfriend dropping a bomb on Bruno in the form of an infant daughter and his father gets dragged into events when set-up and arrested, as a means of gaining leverage over our man.

It's a gripping read. There's a real sense of isolation and a creeping paranoia for our man. Day to day, the unit carries out operations designed to bring them closer to a drug king-pin, who Bruno fears is the next contract target for the pair. The operations are audacious and borderline legal, but effective in removing drugs from the street and getting information, bringing them closer to the big cheese. I really liked the close-up look at cops operating on the front-line.

Lots to like and a return to form after my muted reaction (I might be in a minority) to the last Johnson novel - The Vanquished.

An interesting story, slightly more complex that you might immediately think. Putnam kept me on my toes, I didn't really know who was pulling all the strings until the reveal quite close to the end. All in all an entertaining read.

4.5 from 5

David Putnam has written four previous books in the series and a standalone novel Fire at Will.

He has his website here.

Read in January, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 324
Source - ARC received from author
Format - trade paperback


  1. This does sound absorbing, Col. The premise sounds good, and I always give credit to an author who can keep me guessing...

    1. Margot, I wasn't sure it how it was all going to pan out, which was a massive plus point.

  2. I am not familiar with this author, Col. I find novels (and movies / tv shows) where the person goes undercover very tense.

    1. Yeah - there's a certain sense of paranoia and isolation prevalent in that situation. I find the same in espionage with agents working in hostile countries.