Member Reviews

A police drama about a rookie cop. The first part of this book reads like a memoir. Describing his shifts and his love interest was captivating. Then we travel forwards to 1988 and he is a fully fledged detective and so much has changed. I was fully immersed in his early days but I lost interest in the last half of this book. I liked the rookie cop but the detective was very unlikable. All in all a good read.
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in return for giving an honest review.

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This police procedural really bites. A quite wonderful story in two parts, first the experience of a trainee cop both on the streets and at the station. How he was treated by arrogant colleagues, how he reacted at crime scenes all brilliantly described along with his fumbling approaches at a girl he knew at school. Of course he marries her and then the second part concerns his life seven years later when he has become a homicide detective. Old cases suddenly become connected and his search for the truth in a complex tale that concerns a friend from his trainee days wrongly convicted for one of the old cases. Gloriously atmospheric this is a smashing read.

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Rich in evocative detail - the complex mystery kept me guessing right up to the last page.I thoroughly enjoyed this immersive story.

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I’m not often rendered speechless by a book, but A Fearsome Moonlight Black has left me metaphorically gaping like a goldfish, wondering how my review can do it justice. This first part of a planned trilogy about “Bone Detective” Dave Becket is a fictionalised account of the author’s own experiences as a rookie police officer - he explains in the afterword exactly which parts are true. I’d read and loved the last couple of books in his exciting Bruno Johnson series, so knew this would be good, but was blown away by how haunting this first-person account is.

In 1979, David Beckett is 21, idealistic and enthusiastic, and just starting his police career in the small California town of West Valley, when a series of violent deaths force him to grow up fast. Eight years later, he’s now a seasoned homicide detective with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, and known as a bit of a cowboy, whose marriage is falling apart, when his latest reckless stunt leads to him being demoted to handling cold cases. Then a friend asks him to prove he was framed for murder, and Dave must right the mistakes of the past to catch a cold-blooded killer.

This was quite long for a thriller, but the writing - evocative in parts, emotional in others, made this highly readable and I was hooked from the start. He has a unique way of describing people and places - spare with the physical details, but conveying their essence: “ If there was a line of demarcation for capable, Smith was well past it and deep into devastating.” In the first part, Dave’s naivety is tempered by his observational skills - I felt like I was right there at the crime scenes with him, and his drive to do the right thing jostles with his longing to impress his superiors, but from the start he has a strong moral code: “On the ground all around the porch lay empty shotgun shells, green plastic hulls that littered the grass like seedlings that if left to pollinate could grow into an evil all its own.”

The plot becomes more complicated in the second part - I wasn’t sure I followed all his intuitive leaps, and while I did have a suspicion about who the villain would be, and was proved correct, this didn’t spoil anything. The book ends quite abruptly, although the only cliffhanger is as regards his marriage, but there are two more books to come so that’s fine. I for one cannot wait to read them.

Thanks to NetGalley and Oceanview for the ARC. I am posting this honest review voluntarily.
A Fearsome Moonlight Black is published on October 18th.

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Book Review
A Fearsome Moonlight Black
David Putnam
reviewed by Lou Jacobs | Goodreads

Walk in the shoes of Dave Beckett, a somewhat naive young man of twenty-one who Is given a badge, a patrol car and a gun. Although still in his probationary period, he is still living the dream of his life. He’s successfully completed the sheriff’s academy and is ready to embark on his great adventure.

He has had two ninety-day stints with probationary training officers Johnny Maslow and Mike Smith, with distinctly different styles and philosophies of police work. He quickly learns that there are good and bad cops, just like there are good and bad souls on the street. There are those out for adventure, others who want to help people, and those who just want a paycheck. Cops are like everyone else with regular emotions, and have to contend with envy, hate, love, guilt and pettiness. He quickly realizes how accurate the academy description of police work is hours of boredom interspersed with moments of pure terror.

Of course there were the mundane, the traffic violations and ticketing, shoplifting, burglaries, car thefts, traffic collisions, but domestic disturbances were the most dangerous. Emotions run hot and blur the line between common sense and temporary insanity. A car stop was like a treasure hunt, you never knew what you were going to find. Tt could turn into a life and death situation.

A “simple” welfare check morphs easily into a suicide. Dave anxiously knocks on the door without an answer. He enters to find a kitchen table laid out with papers, last will and testament and funeral instructions. He investigates and eventually pulls open the garage door to find what’s left of Mr Shearer, sitting in a pool of his own blood with his head missing. This image would forever be embedded in his memory. He would soon answer a radio dispatcher’s call delivering him to a hotel room. A young woman trussed up like a steer would be found on a bed with a pillow over her head, momentarily hiding the bullet hole in her skull.

Brutal murders like this cannot help but shift beliefs, result in loss of innocence and firmly establish the presence of true evil. An officer always had to deal with the unintended consequences of events bombarding his everyday events. Even during a traffic crash, you had to deal with the ghouls trying to catch a glimpse of human carnage. Dan Howard killed a few short blocks from his house. He would never again pull into his driveway, walk into his house, kiss his wife, or grab a beer out of the fridge. Today, he would be the nightly news.

Ride along in the shoes of Officer Dave Beckett, as he daily experiences and contends with violence and mayhem, and sense how it shapes and molds his life and future.

In the second half of the book, nine years later, Dave is married, estranged from his wife and working as a highly successful homicide detective in the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department. After he learns his beloved trainer, Johnny Maslow, was convicted of murdering the women he found as a rookie in the hotel, his world is shattered, and he realizes not everything is black and white. He finds himself working multiple cold cases to provide well deserved closure.

Putnam proves to be a masterful storyteller as he weaves multiple plot lines into a startling narrative with unexpected twists and reveals. This gritty street tale unfolds in a cascade of intricate and convoluted intertwining events that benefits from a cast of multidimensional characters. The finely honed protagonist of Dave Beckett is firmly ingrained in your memory after the last page is turned. The tale is told obviously through the eyes of one who has lived the life. David Putnam has had a long and storied career in law enforcement. This compelling police procedural that escalates into an immersive mystery thriller is obviously an authentic depiction of life in law enforcement. Hopefully, Putnam will continue to add to the lore and life of Detective Dave Beckett, rivaling his finely crafted Bruno Johnson series.

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Dave Beckett is a wide-eyed young man when he joins the police department in a small town in southern California. His naivete allows him to believe in his world a vision where cops are good guys championing the rights of the wronged. He learns quickly that crime is not black and white, and the bad guys aren't always the ones committing the crimes. This is the story of a victim turned predator, a young man who grows up too fast and becomes an apt pupil in the pursuit of criminals on both sides of the fence.

The story has two timelines - 1979 and 1988. We follow the protagonist through his career as an American policeman, and the effect it had on his life and relationships. The first half of this book, we follow rookie cop Dave Beckett whilst he's on duty. Dave makes some mistakes along the way. The second half is about when Dave becomes a detective in a Sheriff's office and his marriage is on the rocks. This story is based on the authors own experiences as an enforcement officer as he cracks some fantastic cases. This is a well written book that held my attention throughout. The conclusion was satisfying.

I would like to thank #Netgalley #LevelBestBooks and the author #DavidPutnam for my ARC of #AFearsomeMidnightBlack in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: A Fearsome Moonlight Black, The Bone Detective, A Dave Beckett Novel
by David Putnam
Published by Oceanview and Level Best Books, October 18, 2022

★★★★★ (4.5 Stars)


That's the word that comes to mind as I read author David Putnam's latest police procedural thriller. Part memoir (Part 1), part fiction (Part 2), hardly embellished IMO, Mama's boy, warts and all, with the entire narrative based on stories and cases compiled over a life-long career dedicated to law enforcement.

I get a glimpse inside the persona - the author's blood, sweat and tears of what it was like for a beat cop to work the streets. I also see a strong moral compass in a book quite reminiscent of those classic Joseph Wambaugh novels, now back on my TBR.

And then some.


San Bernardino County,
Southern California

It's the year of the Chevy Nova, the Opel Kadett, the 35mm Instamatic camera, "The Rockford Files" with James Gardner, "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple, Miller High Life "Champagne" guzzling, the ubiquitous two-pack-a-day cigarette vice along with the ridiculous arbitrary rule on Pan-Am, smoking on the left side of the cabin, non-smoking on the right. (The latter mine.)

And Astro, the beagle.

Dave Beckett is elated. Barely out of high school, the twenty-one-year-old rookie cop is given by the Sheriff's department "...a badge, a gun, a fast car and a large dollop of trust and responsibility", as he cruises around in his life-long dream - his own patrol car. (Astro's his dog.)

For all intents and purposed, he's still a kid, some would even say a Mama's boy. He's the "FNG", the fucking new guy. He gets his fair share of licks and hazing, of being called names by the older guys, paper balls hurled at the back of his head.

Then he gets his cherry popped with his first call on the swing shift, a call which leaves him rattled and shaken.

Then his first "code 3 run, lights and siren" to an "unknown injury traffic accident" which turns out to be a "1144, fatal accident". His first armed apprehension. His first officer-involved shooting.

And his first brush with near-death. A hitherto unsolved case...

// "...bits and chunks separated from his body, flung far in a mist of moonlight black..."
- David Putnam, "A Fearsome Moonlight Black" (2022) //

Eight years later, Officer Dave Beckett is a veteran homicide detective for the San Bernardino County Sheriff. Circumstances land him in special duties.

"The Bone Detective" is born.

And that's where cold-case homicide detective Beckett gets reacquainted with the "TB Killer".

The Teen Beast Killer whom he's met in a previous fatal encounter...


David Putnam parleys his years of law enforcement into the palpable realism of his writing. Inter-alia, he was with the real Hawaii Five-O, a narc, on an FBI-sponsored team, with a SWAT team and has supervised corrections, patrol, and a detective bureau.

Wholly entertaining, compelling. A must-read for his fans - and fans to be!

Review based on an advanced reading copy courtesy of Oceanview, Level Best Books, and NetGalley.

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This book reads like a memoir, and for a while I really though that I was what I was reading. Turns out, the author drew from his own experiences as a young cop in the late 1970’s.

Our hero, David Beckett, is 21 when this book begins in 1979. He is a young, fresh faced, rookie cop, working his first assignment as a beat cop in Southern California. His eyes are opened fairly quickly to the realities of law enforcement and he is on the scene of 4 rather life changing murders. His view on the world starts to change, the more bad he sees. In part 2, Dave is now a homicide detective, still working too much.

It was an interesting story based on the truth of being a cop at this time. Not always an easy read, but Dave was a character that you wanted to do well.

Thanks to Level Books and and NetGalley for my advanced copy of this book to read. Published October 18th.

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Jumping at the chance to read another story by this author, I kept waiting for the characters and plot to develop, but sadly that didn’t happen. I never really cared about the main character. Looking forward to a rebound in the next book.

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A police drama about a young rookie cop, working out of S California and who is learning as we read. It's set in two timelines; 1979 and 1988 as we follow the protagonist through his career and the impact it has on his life and relationships.

It has a sense of truth as the writer was a police officer and you feel that, throughout the book. Unfortunately, for me, I struggled to maintain interest. Just not for me. Overall, an OK read.

Thanks to NetGalley and Lisa from Swell media for the opportunity to preview.

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I was expecting a gripping thriller, but I didn't find this to be the case. I just didn't like the writing style, and it put me off, sorry not for me.

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The Bone Detective, a Dave Beckett novel, book #1

Taking from the author’s own experiences as a law enforcement official “A Fearsome Moonlight Black” brings us, the first part of the novel, to the rookie years of David Beckett when he worked the beat in a small town in Southern California. He is naïve and has a vision that cops are advocate there to help the wronged. Facing deadly situations, he learned quickly that crime is not cut and dry. In the second part, we have a mature David in pursuit of criminals on both side of the fence. This story is part true and part fictional.

Following David through his career cracking great cases such as murders and suicides was exciting and show what kind of cop Dave turned out to be. The development moved at a steady pace: smooth and slow but the action never stopped. I found it refreshing this glimpse into the life of a rookie cop as well as how Mr. Putman gave true feelings to his narrative. The later years, as a homicide detective David opened a can of worms investigating the wrongful conviction of his mentor by doing so this slow moving drama became a fast pace mystery and a compelling depiction of life as a law enforcement officer. We have between the lines a loose thread of love and the heartbreaking disclose of what happened to a long missing partner.

This story is smooth and seamless to read, has a storyline with a personal touch and peppered with characters hard not to love. Well-done.

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A digital ARC of this book was provided to me by NetGalley and Level Best Books. The opinions are my own and freely given.

The book is told in two parts. Book One is set in 1979 and follows a rookie cop, Dave Beckett. He is in his probationary period and has been released to patrol alone. He experiences his first dead body and has to navigate his way through the "hazing" from the other cops. Book Two is in 1988. Dave moves to San Bernadino County Sheriff's department where he is a homicide detective. Book One is like watching a marathon of old school Cops. Dave chases down suspects, and charges suspects like a bull and puts himself in danger. Book One sets up the whole story. There are murders and suicides, and it shows what kind of a cop Dave really is. In Book Two, the stories from the beginning come together. I was waiting for the action to ramp up and when it did, I kept thinking "no, no, no, no!" Not because of what was happening but who it was happening with/too. Book One is not boring but kind of slow if you are really expecting something big to happen; however, now I understand why it was written that way. If you go into this knowing that, you will really enjoy this book. I would definitely recommend if you like watching the original Cops and like reading books about the detectives who don't necessarily follow rules but get the bad guys off the streets.

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Absolutely brilliant. I was completely submerged in this story throughout. David Putnam has a way of putting the reader right in the middle of a scene. It's as if you are right there and not just a bystander.

The story is told in two parts, which works well. Although I was a little lost for the first few pages when I started the second part, it didn't take long to catch up.

There's a loose thread of a love story that borders on unrequited love. The reveal of what happened to the love interest's partner was heartbreaking.

I've heard it said more than once, "write what you know," and that applies here. I can't wait to read more!

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David Putnam is known for his Bruno Johnson mystery series, but in A Fearsome Moonlight Black he brings us the tale of David Beckett as a rookie officer in Southern California in the 1970s. Not really a spoiler, but Putnam relates that many of the stories and characters in the 1st half the book, Beckett's rookie year, are autobiographical. The way the stories are interwoven into a fictional tale is compelling. The 1st part ends with a knockout with a shovel---quite literally. The second half of the book picks up several years later, and now Beckett is a seasoned Sheriff's homicide detective who's trying to keep his personal and professional life together. Of course, Putnam is able to pull plot strings from first part of the book into the 2nd half for a fullfilling and great story. Hopefully, there will be more Dave Beckett adventures.

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I tried to love this book, and enjoyed the first few chapters, but I tired of it and struggled to finish. I never warmed up to the main character and I found his ppersonal life to be distracting, rather than adding depth.

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This has been the first book I’ve read by David Putman. I did read it in its entirety and can’t say I disliked it…it just didn’t seem cohesive or flow the was most books I read do. It was interesting from a young rooky’s point of view but certainly a different writing style.

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The blurb intrigued me but I simply could not get into the writing style of this story at all.. The language felt overly simplistic for the type of story it was relating, with a strange mix of too many details and not enough at different times. I was not able to finish. This one wasn't for me...

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This is the first book I’ve read by the author David Putnam and to be honest I doubt it will be my last!
I was given this advanced reading copy by NetGalley. . At first I was unsure if it was my kind of read but the pages turned very quickly and I was deeply engrossed in the story based on the early days of the authors as a rookie cop,.
Of course I enjoyed it as I do definitely enjoy a good cop story on tv so why not in a novel. Quick read, lots of excitement, will keep you turning the pages faster and faster.
Thanks NG and the author for the opportunity to read this early. This one comes out in October so add it to your to be read pile. Look for it on bookshelves near you soon.

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I finished book one of this ARC. I made it through 75% of the ARC in it's entirety, forced myself as a matter of fact. I won't be posting this review to any public forums. I just couldn't complete this ARC in it's entirety. There were so many plot lines and different ways this book was trying to go but never actually went anywhere all at the same time. In book one we had the mystery of the missing teen, the mystery of Cole, the love interest of Beth. We only actually wrapped up the missing teenager and just barely wrapped up our love affair with Beth in the last chapter or so of book one of the ARC.

After forcing myself 5 pages into book two of this copy of the book here we are into the future and I really don't know, not do I care, what's happening with officer Beckett. I just feel like there's only 25% of this ARC left with way too much left hanging. This book is labeled "mystery/thriller" genre and there's no mystery and thriller whatsoever. I have found myself so many times making myself pick it up and there are too many books out there that I want to get to to be forcing myself to read this one. I do want to read more of this author's work because there was parts of the book I enjoyed this just wasn't the one for me. I will not be posting my review to public forums because that's not what Goodreads is for. Just my opinion. Thank you so much for the ARC.

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