cover image The Squandered

The Squandered

David Putnam. Oceanview (Midpoint, dist.), $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-60809-165-2

Putnam’s gripping third Bruno Johnson novel (after 2015’s The Replacements) takes Bruno from Costa Rica, where he fled with the woman who’s now his wife, Marie, and 10 mistreated children he rescued (illegally), back to Los Angeles, to help his incarcerated brother, Noble, whose two young grandchildren have been kidnapped. Unable to turn away from kids in peril, Bruno soon gets mixed up in a caper involving the cocaine trade, a failed heist, and plenty of cold-blooded killers. Luckily, he has help from a nephew also named Bruno (the kidnapped children’s father), some police buddies, and of course Marie. A former police officer, Putnam combines a spot-on procedural with a hero and heroine whose banter and obvious affection for each other provide some welcome levity amid some very dark deeds. At times, awkward excerpts from A Noble Sacrifice, a memoir written by Noble, slow the narrative, but everything else is so well crafted, readers will zip right through this poignant crime thriller. Agents: Mike and Susan Farris, Farris Literary Agency. (Feb.)