Cover Image: A Fearsome Moonlight Black

A Fearsome Moonlight Black

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Member Reviews

A story that shows that good and bad is not all it seems to be. Just because you're a cop, doesn't mean you can't be a bad guy. And, just because you're a "criminal," doesn't mean you can't be someone doing good. I like this take and a story that isn't afraid to showcase it, because it is all too common in the real world.

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A well-written story that begins with a cop at 21 naive but wanting to make a change like most do. He also has a different look on life. As you go through the story you begin to see the changes and how he has either allowed to job to change his life or is it just a combination of so many things. A very good story that has some twists along the way which adds to the story.

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I enjoyed reading this suspenseful story. This is a well written story that is hard to put down. A story where you think the good guys are just that good. But what happens when the good guy turns bad? I enjoyed the growth of this story. It kept me turning pages fast just to see what would happen next. The twists and turns had me on the edge of my seat just waiting to see what would happen next. The characters pull you into their world, even the dark side. I enjoyed how the author used details to make the story realistic.which made it easy to read. This is a story that I really enjoyed reading. I highly recommend this book.

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Well written and very enjoyable.
Many thanks to Level Best Books and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Very enjoyable story about a young cop. The first half is based on the authors life and the second half fiction.
Well worth reading.

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Dave Beckett is eager when he joins the police force, with a vision of you have the good and the bad guys. It becomes clear that this was an innocent, naive perception of the world. He discovers the world is far more complex and not as starkly black and white as that and there’s sometimes a blurring of those lines.
Dave has his own struggles with his personal life and his career, that aged 21 was going reasonably well and he starts to win the respect of his colleagues, even though he carries some uncertainties with him. You also see this rookie police officer thrust into the world of crime of the murderous kind, gain experience and how he gets fast-tracked through some of the force.

Years later and his life changes quite dramatically. The tensions his career brings on his family has consequences and even his career isn’t doing so well anymore as he faces certain consequences to certain actions. No longer is he this eager, naive 21 year old; his experiences have replaced this with a more cynical, aged attitude. He, by this time even knows of a colleague behind bars, but is he as innocent as he claims or as guilty as is suspected? Dave takes it upon himself to do some digging around, after all, he seems to have more time than ever on his hands. 

The plot, although fictionalised, with fast-paced twists and turns,  has materialised through the real life experiences of David Putnam, adding an extra layer of authenticity.

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Thanks to Netgalley and Oceanview Publishing for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

In the late 70's, Dave Beckett is a young rookie cop who sees several terrible things in his early days on the job. He is haunted by the murder of a woman in a hotel and it takes years for him to solve the crime.

This is a stand alone or new series from this author but it still has the authenticity that we get in the Bruno Johnson series. You can tell the author really was a cop and is writing from experience. I liked the Dave character and would be open to reading more to see where things go with him and his cases.

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David Putnam has created a semi-autobiographical tour de force. Police force that is (said tongue in cheek, as the story certainly qualifies as such). In the first part of the novel, we meet the younger rookie, who is exposed violently to the worst parts of police work in a rapid fire series of incidents, but nonetheless seems to thrive as he learns his craft and discovers a taste and talent for solving crimes. Part two seems to run off in a different direction until all the little threads that had been left dangling are neatly sewn together into an unexpected conclusion. Did I leave something out? Absolutely! But Mr. Putnam didn't forget to include the gripping tension, attention to details, and tightly woven narrative that delivers a number of surprises along the way.

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(3.5 stars)

I fear that my faith in humanity has all but died. It's something that has occurred gradually, but I know exactly when it started. It was on 14th July 2000, a television programme called 'Big Brother' first aired in the UK.

If you've never seen it, good for you. But just by way of background, what it essentially did was put a group of complete strangers in a house and give them nothing to do except - hopefully, from the producer's point of view - argue with each other. And have cameras filming them 24 hours a day so that every row could be played back in slow motion and dissected.

Sound boring? It was. And yet for some inexplicable reason, enough of the British public not only watched every episode, but phoned a premium rate number every week to decide which one of these nobodies they wanted evicted from the house.

It was great news for the TV production companies, because of course these programmes cost almost nothing to make. And so, tragically, the idea spawned. We now have 'Love Island', which is exactly the same as 'Big Brother' except the "contestants" all wear bikinis, and 'I'm a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here'. Which is also the same, except that each contestant has (a) been on television at least once before - but it's entirely possible that it was only once - and (b) over the course of the eternity that it seems to be broadcast, they'll probably have to eat some kangaroo's genitalia.

At the end of each episode of whichever Godawful programme it is, people pay money to vote over something that will make no difference to their lives whatsoever. And then, when the vote doesn't go the way they wanted, they go onto social media to get angry that the programme is somehow fixed. Choosing to ignore that a better thing to do would be to get angry at themselves that their lives are empty enough for them to care.

Then there's the programme that I caught my wife watching the other night. It was called - I think - '20 Kids and Counting', and it involved some cameras following a woman and her 19 children - the 20th was on the way, which meant that even the title was wrong - around all day, every day. And that's it. How, I wondered in despair, has humanity gone from celebrating talent, or skill, or achievement of any kind to glorifying this?

These programmes exist seemingly because we all want to see, and somehow delight in someone else either making a fool of themselves, or having a worse life than we are. And I'm sorry, but that feels to me like a hateful state of mind.

The ramifications go further. I could go on about how shows such as this spelt the end for several long-running TV drama series, because of course, why should TV companies pay actors and scriptwriters to make programmes when all they need is a 24-hour camera crew? It's even arguably contributed to the current dire state of politics in the UK, because more people will vote in pointless TV phone-ins than they will in elections.

But it's all too depressing, which is why I was glad to be able to retreat into another room and pick up my book. The trouble was that the book in question was A Fearsome Moonlight Black. Trouble because, if the current state of television is enough to depress you - and you're not alone - spare a thought for the book's main character, Dave Beckett.

'Part One' of the book begins in 1979, at the very beginning of Beckett's police career in southern California. He has only just been given a gun and the keys to a fast police car. But in just a few months he's unlucky enough to experience the very worst of human nature on multiple occasions. The rest of us only get to see it on television, and have the freedom to turn off if we wish to. He lived it. And whilst some of his colleagues attempt to offer support, post-traumatic stress disorder was not widely recognised and even if it had been, a young rookie cop who felt he had everything to prove would have been unlikely to admit to it.

'Part Two' fast-forwards eight years, and we learn that Beckett's dedication to his job and inability to mentally shelve some of his earlier cases has taken its toll. His marriage is failing and he doesn't know how to handle it. He has also learnt through personal and painful experience that it isn't always the case that criminals are bad and police are good. The lines have become blurred and been crossed by some of those that Beckett most admires.

The book is gritty, authentic and often fascinating. My only real problem was that despite this, it didn't quite manage to hold my attention.

I think the issue is the narrative. It's very detailed and told chronologically. This is fine in an autobiography, where we know we're reading about a person's life as they lived it. But this book is marketed as fiction, and I couldn't help thinking that it would have benefitted from an edit to try and make it a bit ... a bit more thrilling in the right places. I wondered if perhaps the story could have switched between 'present' and 'past' in the way that many good crime and psychological fiction novels are written.

And then, at the end, is a note from the author. It's impossible to include a discussion of it here without revealing spoilers, but what I will say is that I wished I'd known that before starting the book. So much of what I had read is put into context.

Overall though, I have to say that I don't think this was quite the book for me. However, the fact remains that compared to just about anything on television, it's an absolute masterpiece.

My sincere thanks to the author, Swell Media and Netgalley for the gifted digital ARC. I will post my review on Goodreads, Amazon and my personal blog.

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This was my first David Putnam book that I can recall reading. Set in the late 1970's we meet a young cop, Dave, who is more than a little "green" and inexperienced. Following his career we watch Dave learn that in-between the black and white is a whole lot of grey.

I enjoyed this book as my first foray into this author and am looking forward to continuing the series!

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A great perspective of a young rookie cop, barely old enough to drink, developing instincts, searching for clues and answers, making mistakes with misplaced trust. An ordinary everyday civilian like myself won’t ever understand the comradery, the mindset, that thin blue line, the hazing and cliques. This story brings clarity.
The separate but connected stories in the book contrasts his naivety with experience and the benefit of hindsight. Isn’t it always easy to look back and see what you missed? It’s obvious the author put personal bibliographical experiences into the fictional account of Dave Beckett’s journey towards becoming a detective. Dave struggles with his chosen career, young love, romance and ghosts. Thoroughly enlightening!
The training officer, Sergeant, Chief, Sheriffs and other co-workers were interspersed clearly and powerfully true to life, gritty, fallible and brazenly human. Dave’s pal Johnny is a broken soul who almost broke my heart. There are several deaths to explore, a missing girl, suicide or murder? I chastised myself because I missed obvious clues in my race to solve one of the cases instead of looking at the whole. The murderer eluded me as much as it did Dave.
Many thanks to NetGalley for the digital advance reader copy of ”A Fearsome Moonlit Black”, a Bone Detective Novel, by David Putnam and to Level Best Books. This was a fantastic crime novel! Highly recommend! As the title includes that this is ‘A Bone Detective Novel’, can we hope there will be more? These are all my own honest personal thoughts and opinions given voluntarily without compensation.

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A Fearsome Moonlight Black is a novel by best-selling American author, David Putnam. In the first month of his probationary period with the City of West Valley PD in California, twenty-one-year-old patrolman Dave Beckett is faced with five dead bodies, and that experience takes him from being uncertain he has the emotional strength to fire his gun, to emptying six shots into the fifth killer. In that time he also wins the respect of many of his colleagues, and the heart of the woman he’s fallen for.

Eight years on, he’s with the San Bernadino Sheriffs Department and has gained a reputation as the cop others come to when they want a job done that might not cross all the t’s or dot all the i’s. His marriage is in trouble for his neglect of family, and his most recent action sees him relegated to being the Bone Detective in lieu of suspension. The desert around an San Bernadino is commonly used for body disposal, and it’s his job to check out any finds.

With the extra free time this gives him, he fulfils an obligation to visit a former colleague now imprisoned for murder. The man pleads with Dave to prove his innocence, which involves re-examining a West Valley cold case. But is his claim of innocence just a ploy?

The author’s former career as a policeman certainly informs his work and the first part reads more like a memoir than a novel: a string of apparently unrelated incidents that pepper Dave’s work life when he’s just out of training, many of which, as in real life, have no instant resolution. The bullying, hazing and jealousy ring true, as does the unprofessional behaviour of some of his colleagues and the care and mentoring of others.

If Dave is likeable for his earnest attitude at the start, he is a bit less so by the second half, a more soured and cynical cop whose decisions are sometimes baffling. There’s plenty of good detective work in this police procedural, and lots of action building up to a nail-biting climax. Putnam’s sociopath isn’t entirely convincing, and there are some continuity issues that may have been picked in the final version. Very readable American crime fiction.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Level Best Books.

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When writing about police procedures and cases, Putnam knows his stuff. Based on his own true experiences, he brings his characters to life. Real and raw, there’s no way the reader can’t be drawn in quickly and held tightly until the very end. Thank you to Level Best Books and NetGalley for an ARC of this book.

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This is the first I've read by Putnam and I like it. His writing style is engaging. I liked Dave right off. Even though one might consider him naive, he is a rookie at his job and gets plunged into its gruesome aspect right away with several deaths. One can tell the author has had experience in law enforcement. The feeling is one of reality, not made up situations. I cringed at the attitude and dialog between the officers but I think at that time (1979) it was very much the routine.

When the novel jumps to 1988, another kind of reality sets in. Dave is no longer naive. A near decade of police work has taken its toll on his character and his life relationships. As Putnam says in his note, this novel reflects not so much what happened on the the street but more what the street did to the kid.

This is a good start to Dave's story. I'll be watching to see what happens in his life.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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This is a novel in two parts. Although fictional, the first is an account of the last few months of a young, naive rookie police officer’s probation in 1979 based on the author’s own experiences. Dave Beckett is the name of the fictional character who has been assigned to the City of West Valley police station in Southern California. After eighteen months on patrol training with another officer he’s now out patrolling on his own. He has a good nose for the job and soon has a few arrests under his belt, but is also about to experience his first murder and suicide victims, which will continue to haunt him for a long time.

In the second part of the novel, it’s 1988 and Dave is now a homicide detective with the San Bernardino County Sherriff’s office. He’s married now with a young daughter, but has been separated for six months. He’s drinking too much, has problems controlling his anger and is more devoted to his job than his family. He’s still thinking about three deaths he came across in his last year on probation. Although someone was convicted of one of them, Dave is not convinced they got the right man and decides to investigate further even if it means losing his career as a detective.

This is very gritty, very real, hard hitting crime fiction. Despite this, it’s easy to read and flows well. You can really feel the young rookie cop’s apprehension about his inexperience and wanting to do the right thing and not stuff up in front of his older team mates. There are some surprises in the second half as Dave starts to put together the pieces of what he saw as a rookie. By the end of the book his career and his marriage are both hanging by threads about to snap. Since this is the first of a proposed trilogy, we’ll have to wait for the next book to find out what happened next.

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I very entertaining and educative book about cops and law enforcement. Some parts were a bit slow but were so engaging that I just felt like I need to go back and continue. Overall I was very satisfied with the story line, characters and the end.

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A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam is engaging and well written, though I admit there a few slow areas, that made it easy for me to set it down for a day or so, but my curiosity would get the better of me, so I had to keep reading, and for me that's a sign of a good book! I truly enjoyed the story line, because its also based on his life as a police officer, and so he knows well what its like to be a young police officer in the first months of his career, to his growth to become a seasoned Detective.

This review is my honest opinion!
I want to thank NetGalley, and the publisher for letting me read this ARC.

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I initially put this book aside as the beginning was too light for my noir nature. I’m glad I picked it up again, for the naivete of Beckett’s early years is a necessary passage to whom he becomes as he takes on the murders that formed his first years on the job. Well recommended.

Review at Murder in Common:

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I have no doubts that Fearsome Moonlight Black is partly a memoir of David Putnam, who joined the Police also at a young age, full of dreams, and then became a hardened cop working to maintain the law and put criminals behind bars. The story is beautifully written, especially, in part One, where dreams still are upfront and sum up with the young guy's naivety. Good story, great characters, and a book that differs from others by this author.

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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 the cops are the 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.

This is a brilliant read.
Wonderful well written plot and story line that had me engaged from the start.
Love the well fleshed out characters and found them believable.
Great suspense and found myself second guessing every thought I had continuously.
Can't wait to read what the author brings out next.
Recommend reading.

I was provided an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher. This is my own honest voluntary review.

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