The Innocents: David Putnam
Murder for hire is not something new as we hear about it on the news. What happens when those that are supposed to protect you are the ones who have been enlisted to take out what some think people that need icing you might say and the money they get keeps them wanting to kill even more. Bruno Johnson is a deputy LA County Sheriff appointed to the Violent Crimes division. Thinking this would be a great start of a long running career little does he know that he’s being brought in for anything but handling violent crimes. Robby Wicks is his immediate superior and explains to him and the team that being trigger-happy is the only way to handle anyone that they’ve been given to take down and if you can’t pull the trigger you don’t belong here. Each man agrees but it’s Bruno who seems to be the center of his attention but first Bruno is not only blindsided by his ex-girlfriend handing over a newborn daughter to him and leaving him without a word or even hinting that she might return, Bruno has a new job and a child to deal with. Lucky for him his father Xander has a neighbor that he can pay to handle and care for his daughter but things are not what they appear to be and the end result will test not only his loyalty to his family, to those on his team and to himself.
Things heat up during his first sting and he gets tangled up and winds up taking down the person of interest but what was the real motive behind wanting this man dead? Was this a real victims unit crime suspect or was it a murder for hire?
Bruno becomes embroiled in red tape and winds up being placed in a position that could not only destroy his family but end his life. Trust is valuable when a cop and knowing that your teammates have your back is paramount. But, what happens when you are transferred to another group with orders to spy on your new teammates and help take them down since they are the ones that are being paid by a huge drug cartel, EME, to take down those they want eliminated.
Ricky Blue and Claude Thibodeaux ran the narcotics team that Bruno would be a part of. Going undercover was dangerous and as he gets to know these guys, their home and those that they associate with things will spiral out of control as Bruno learns the true meanings of disloyalty and betrayal. Chelsea Miller joins the group and someone about her strikes him as odd as he realizes that he needs to tell her only what she needs to know and as he and the reader will learn not everyone is what they appear to be. So, whom does he trust?
The chief and Wicks have created what they call a Black Bag wire tap mission and the purpose is to take down the dirty cops but before all is said and done others will fall and lives will be endangered because in order for Bruno to survive he might have to find a way to go against his grain and his integrity would be questioned by others and within himself.
Part of a four man team and just learning the ropes himself Bruno falls prey to the lies of others and when the first victim goes down and his boss requests his presence at a barbeque little does he realize that he’s being duped and set up. Lt. Robby Wicks is his boss and yet as you get to know him you realize that Bruno has too much integrity, is too honest and when forced to infiltrate a drug ring and told his mission in order to prove his loyalty to the narcotics group what will his decision be?
Meeting the informants, the prostitutes and learning more about his corrupt operation, many lives will be lost and Bruno will have to search his soul long and hard and decide where his loyalties lie. His first time killing a mark and his boss takes it a casual walk in the park. Deputy Chief Rudyard creates this position for him and the claim that Blue personally asked that Bruno be assigned to his group. The harsh realities of what author David Putnam brings out in this novel is not that far from reality and the scary part is we know as we listen to the news that there are dirty cops everywhere. Just who is the “ Dog heavy” that is the mastermind and the one running the operation and pulling the strings. What happens when Bruno’s father and daughter are caught in the crossfire and his father is arrested for rape? Bruno’s life is on the line and that of his family so where will he turn and how will he get his father’s arrest overturned realizing this is a test of loyalty but which side will he take? Prejudice, greed, power, revenge and a black cop that just wants justice for the underdog and the mission over before more lives are lost. Bruno calls on one person who he hopes will stop what has been put into place but the ending is violent, the truth behind who’s the dog heavy will shock readers to a point and the final outcome will change Bruno’s perspective. Wicks keeps at Bruno throughout the novel constantly calling him in the middle of a mission to meet, ask for updates and you begin to wonder why and where his allegiances lie.
The final takedown and scene reveals the truth behind why one person is part of the mission, a relationship is revealed and carnage is bloody and the death’s pile up. The ending leaves room for a sequel as someone gets away and Bruno has to make a decision at the end whether to go after this person or remain a new dad and son. Mo Mo is the drug lord that they want to take down but Bruno realizes that something is wrong and when he tries to create a saver way to deal with the situation the person he thought was on his side and the side of the law makes the reader wonder what is fiction and what is non-fiction. Author David Putnam according to the author’s notes is in law enforcement for more than three decades. He explains how the job changed and how he created the dangerous flaws he was there when his lieutenant came of a rooms stating that a deputy just admitted to rape. Officers he worked with became murderers and this novel brings his real life situations to light.
Just like Bruno if you read the novel and the last line of the author’s notes: And that was the first time as a young street cop, that I tasted blood. Someone else’s. As Bruno did when he killed the first mark.
Some many lives lost and many put in danger like his father, his daughter, his own and others these are the silent victims. These are THE INNOCENTS!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine