Cover Image: A Fearsome Moonlight Black

A Fearsome Moonlight Black

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EXCERPT: 'Then what?'

Johnny calmed, his tone lowered. 'Twice cuffed me after Lieutenant Womack put his hand on my shoulder and told me to take it easy. I gotta lot of respect for Womack. Butler took me up to the interview room.' He shook his head. 'And I tell ya, kid, I had no idea what it felt like sitting on the other side of that desk until Butler read me my rights while my hands were cuffed behind my back. I couldn't breathe. There wasn't enough air left in the world.'

ABOUT 'A FEARSOME MOONLIGHT BLACK': 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.

MY THOUGHTS: The story starts early in the winter of 1979 in the City of West Valley, Southern California. Dave Beckett is a twenty-one-year-old probationary police officer about to encounter his first death.

I loved the feel, the ambiance of A Fearsome Moonlight Black. It reminded me of the pulp crime fiction that my dad used to read, that I would sneak off his bedside table to read and carefully replace before he got home.

Initially Dave is inexperienced and naive, but he has an innate instinct that serves him well. Death in all it's illegal forms seems to be attracted to him and he cops more than his fair share of bodies. Some of them are cases that will continue to haunt him, and cause him grief in more ways than one.

There is also a romantic thread that runs through this story and, surprisingly, it works well tied in as it is to a missing person case.

A Fearsome Moonlight Black was an easy and entertaining read. There are some surprising developments scattered throughout, both in Dave's professional and private lives. Dave has to grow up fast and learn to watch his back and trust his instincts. The bad guys aren't always on the other side.

The author's note at the end is enlightening and deserves to be read - but not until after you've finished the book as it contains spoilers.

My favourite line: 'You gotta keep your perspective. In the big scheme of things, in this infinite universe of ours, we amount to nothing more than a popcorn fart.'


#AFearsomeMoonlightBlack #NetGalley

I: @davidputnambooks @levelbestbooks

T: @daveputnam @levelbestbooks

#crime #detectivefiction #friendship #historicalfaction #policeprocedural #romance #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Best-selling author David Putnam comes from a family of law enforcement. During his career, he did it all: worked in narcotics, served on FBI-sponsored violent crimes teams, and was cross-sworn as a US Marshall, pursuing murder suspects and bank robbers in Arizona, Nevada, and California. Putnam did two tours on the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s SWAT team. He also has experience in criminal intelligence and internal affairs and has supervised corrections, patrol, and a detective bureau. In Hawaii, Putnam was a member of the real-life Hawaii Five O, serving as Special Agent for the Attorney General investigating smuggling and white-collar crimes.

Putnam lives in Southern California with his wife, Mary.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Level Best Books (IBPA) via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

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Dave Beckett is barely twenty-one years old in the winter of 1979, but fears that he’s already becoming a death magnet. Even as a beat cop like he is in the city of West Valley, California, it’s fairly unusual for anyone to come across a murder in a place that averages only 18 to 25 homicides annually. Dave, on the other hand, has already managed to be the first responder to two murders in a row, on top of a gory suicide and a fatal traffic accident, during his probationary period alone.

While some of his colleagues – particularly his superiors – are genuinely concerned about how all this is affecting him, Dave is paranoid about washing out, a fear not helped by the macho hazing of some of his fellow cops. For him, joining the police force has long been a dream, a boy’s adventure in grown-up clothing. He’s only slowly coming to understand the reality of his job and its impact on his well-being:

For the next three days I didn’t sleep. Not well, at least. I tossed and turned and tangled in sweaty sheets. Nightmare images wouldn’t leave me alone. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Malloy and Reed on <i>Adam-12</i> never saw the horror show in Mr. Shearer’s garage. I was on the job for the high adventure, not <i>The Tell-Tale Heart</i> by Poe. I couldn’t talk about it with anyone on the job; they’d think me weak and unable to handle it. I still had six months left on probation.

So Dave buckles down, suppressing his feelings in an effort to get the job done no matter what gets thrown at him, literally or figuratively. At the same time, he’s wooing Beth, a young woman he went to high school with. Back then, she’d been deeply in love with her boyfriend Cole. Everyone had expected them to graduate and get married, but Cole had unexpectedly disappeared, leaving Beth both heartbroken and bewildered. Two years on though, she might finally be ready to move on with Dave.

Dave is determined to make something of himself as well as to provide Beth with the kind of life they both deserve. But a routine investigation into the disappearance of teenager Jessica DeFrank will not only put Dave face to face with a gruesome death once more but also place him in mortal danger. Shaken to the core by the experience – on top of the four other cases that are already preying on his psyche – Dave puts in for a transfer to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, where his experience with corpses fast tracks him into the homicide department.

Fast-forward eight years and Dave is a homicide detective. His personal life hasn’t gone the way he’d expected, and while his professional life is exemplary when it comes to closing cases, his ability to step on the toes of other departments due to his often creative interpretation of the rules has made him no friends. After one rogue incident too many, he’s busted down from his desk in homicide to cold cases, or the Bone Department as it’s derisively called.

While other detectives might view this as a demotion – and Dave does too, to be perfectly honest – he reluctantly accepts that this is also a sign for him to reopen the case that has been haunting him ever since his last days at West Valley:

I finally made it to homicide and continually told myself that I needed more experience, putting off, again and again, reopening her case. Now I had my chance, as if karma had stepped in to kick me in the head. If I had to go back to West Valley PD to reopen the investigation into Elise Stoner, I might as well stick my nose into the Jessica DeFrank affair. What else could my boss do to me? The West Valley PD wasn’t going to appreciate a sheriff’s dick sticking his fat nose in their business, especially into a closed case. Especially a bottom-feeding Bone Detective.

The contrast between Dave’s idealistic if over-eager young beat cop to the cynical detective he grows up to be is stark, though makes for very absorbing reading. He isn’t the only one changed by the passage of years, as we discover over the course of this novel. As he heads back into West Valley to finally get to the bottom of what happened to Jessica, he uncovers shocking secrets, and discovers that maybe he hasn’t come as far as he thought from the romantic rookie that he used to be.

I was both pleased and unsurprised to discover that the first part of A Fearsome Moonlight Black is based on David Putnam’s own experiences as a young police officer. The writing is visceral and the emotions almost painfully honest as the fictionalized version of the author navigates these turbulent but formative episodes. Mr Putnam skilfully draws from them to create a compelling, interlinked story of a serial killer hiding in plain sight, with a cinematic, satisfying climax that hopefully heralds more to come in the series.

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I really enjoyed this partially true story of a young cop and his first months on the job. I also enjoyed the second half of the story that solves the mystery. I loved Dave and how he showed what a young policeman went through in his first months on the job. I loved the mystery also. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.

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A fictionalized account of the author's life, starting with the rookie year with a small town police department. David Beckett gives the reader a bird's eye view of the training and the differences in ethical behavior he encounters on a daily basis. As his duties and responsibilities expand, our young policeman will be molded into a much harder version of the idealistic young man he was. Following Officer Beckett will leave you wondering how anyone could choose this job.
But choose he does as we see him years into his career. He is now Detective Beckett, Homicide Division of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department. He is a divorced man in his 30's with a child and a jaded look at life. His job influences his interactions, how could it not?
This is a very engrossing story of one man's journey through the daily journey through some of the worst behavior mankind offers to each other. It will definitely leave you with a different view of what a law enforcement officer must face each day.

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I really enjoyed A Fearsome Moonlight Black. I liked how it showed the character's development from rookie cop to detective and felt it was very realistic. It kept me gripped throughout.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my ARC.

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I don’t know what I think of this one. I didn’t love or hate it. Sometimes I was bored and other times I was intrigued. Most of the time I hated all of the characters, though. You watch how that cop became that cop. But even the young, bright-eyed cop was already kind of a jerk. Basically, this read like a character study of cops who don’t think the rules really matter becoming more and more of a bad cop.

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I honestly thought I was going to dislike this book when I started reading it. I continued reading and glad I did. Knowing this was a somewhat true story made it even more interesting.
The story begins in 1979 with Dave Beckett as a 21 year old rookie on probation. Then the story skips to 1988 where Dave is now a seasoned homicide detective.
Definitely a intense, crime thriller I could not put down. The author writes in a way that made me feel like I was riding along with Dave Beckett as he did his job.
All in all, I liked the premise of the story and it did keep me engaged even through the slower parts of the story.
Many thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the opportunity to read this book for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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A Fearsome Moonlight Black is the best series debut ever!

These are the things I usually look for in a series debut - character introduction and background, setting - series plot + plot of the debut novel, a breakthrough case that made our protagonist famous (not just a gist of it but all the nitty-gritty deets!) and of course, policemen are human beings too so a dash of romance (or broken relationship) to seal the deal.

A Fearsome Moonlight Black has all the pointers mentioned above and then some more. Dave Beckett was a wide-eyed young man when he joined the force. Initially on a probation for six months, Dave learned it the hard way that not all police work is black and white. The memories of seeing a dead body - his first dead body, hazing by senior officials, being called nicknames, support of senior officials who actually care for him - all the things that a Rookie would face in the initial days on the force.

I was hooked on to the story and could not put it down until the end. I loved the character introduction - Dave's journey as a Rookie was well portrayed. All the nitty gritty details, ups and downs, and everything else - making the first half of the story a perfect setting for the series. The second part of the book was simply mind-blowing. There is a time leap of eight years in the second part of the book and Dave is no more a Rookie. There is a case that bothers him - and he manages to find himself in the midst of a very dirty game where the victim turns into a predator.

I hope this series gets picked up for a TV adaptation. If the debut is too good to be true and fantabulous, I cannot imagine how good the next installments would be. I cannot wait to see what's next for our Bone Detective, Dave Beckett.

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam is an addictive, fast-paced, mind-blowing, intense page-turner. If you like to read police procedurals, you will LOVE this book!

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Thank you to the author, Level Best Books and NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I was not familiar with this author, and this book convinced me I need to find more of his writing. Divided into two parts, with a break of eight years between them, this reads a lot like a memoir - a very personal and authentic voice. In the afterword, the author reveals that he drew from his own experiences as a young police officer in southern California in the late 1970s. As the protagonist starts his career in law enforcement, he quickly learns that life - and policing - is rarely black and white, good and bad. The pace picks up quite a bit in the second half of the book, where our protagonist is now working as a seasoned homicide detective. Although the first part lagged a bit, I could not put it down once I really got into the story.

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In 1979, at the age of twenty-one, Dave Beckett had a gun and a fast car as he set out on what he hoped would be the adventure of a lifetime. After graduating from the police academy he was now beginning his probationary period as a real police officer. On his first call out to make a welfare check on a possibly suicidal man he found a body. It was a suicide by shotgun to the head and Beckett was unprepared for the bloody scene. He had watched all of the cop shows and it was never like this on television. That was just the first of the horrific scenes that he confronted in his early days. Beside the suicide there was the young woman murdered in a motel room and the disappearance of a teenage girl who he later found murdered. Despite the effects of those discoveries and the hazing that he faced from some of his fellow officers, Beckett was determined to prove himself.

Eight years later David Beckett is a much different officer. He is now working homicide and the job has taken a toll on his marriage. He is no longer the naive rookie and has learned to rely on his instincts. An interview with the cop who was eventually convicted of the motel murder leaves him questioning those early cases. As he looks back into the files he begins to find connections that were easily missed in the past. It becomes a race against time to discover who was behind the events before Beckett becomes another victim.

David Putnam takes you behind the scenes in the station and places you in the patrol cars as the police confront daily events. He looks at how this job can change the people over time as they work in this field. Using some of the events that he was actually involved in, he brings the story to life. This is so much more than what is presented on a television screen and it leaves you with a greater appreciation of what this life entails. It also provides a complicated mystery that will have you guessing to the end. I would like to thank NetGalley and Level Best Books or providing this book for my review

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This is a police procedural that is full of death and some bad cops.
Level Best Books and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you). It will be published October 18th.

The story starts with a rookie cop. He has the misfortune of finding dead people. He's not supposed to investigate but he wants to. The other cops aren't especially effective.

He ends up being demoted until he dropped to the Bone Detective. But he still looks for clues.

When he thinks he's figured it out, he meets another cop who wants to know what he's found. He tells him and finds himself in trouble. The cop is a killer.

Will he manage to stay alive?

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Dave Beckett is 21 and a probationary police officer with a small town police department. He can hardly wait to get this year behind him when he'll no longer bear the brunt of all the abuse and pranks dished out by the senior officers. He certainly seems to run into more than his fair share of action in the first part of the book. We then jump forward 8 years and things have really changed for Dave but some of those cases from the early years still haunt him.

This book is well written, very authentic with realistic characters and I was totally involved with the story. I especially loved Dave's mom. Too bad she wasn't in the story more. If this is the start of a new series I'll definitely be watching for the next book. Recommended reading. Be sure to read the author's note at the end. It's very enlightening.

My thanks to Level Best Books via Netgalley and Lisa from Swell Media for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this novel. All opinions expressed are my own.
Publication Date: October 18, 2022.

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I didn't like how the book started with "Book One - Instead of writing about how cops worked the job, I wrote about how the job worked on cops." I wasn't willing to start a book thinking I may have to read about an officer who let the job eat them alive. Know what you're getting into before you start law enforcement and if it begins to be more of a hassle than a profession, leave the profession.

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A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam is a very highly recommended police procedural set in two timelines, 1979 and 1988, and presented in two parts.

In 1979 Dave Beckett is a 21 year-old rookie on probation with a police department in West Valley, a small town in Southern California. Dave tries his best to do a good job and is proud to be a cop, but then he get several of the toughest cases in the department. He also reconnects with Beth, a woman that he had a crush on in high school. During the last case in the 1979 time period, he is attacked and the timeline jumps forward to part two of the book set in 1988. Now Dave is a homicide detective in the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department. His marriage to Beth is in jeopardy and he has a five-year-old-daughter. He also understands now that everything isn't always cut and dried and that those thought to be the good guys aren't always good. Dave ends up going back in time when he was a rookie and taking a closer look at some of the cases he had.

Dave is a realistically portrayed character and there is definitely growth in his character simply due to time. The writing is very good as Putnam follows multiple complicated cases in an intricate plot that has an authenticity that will hold your attention throughout the novel. This is a gritty look behind the public image.

Book one is an even paced look at the life of a rookie cop while book two becomes a much more intense and complex investigation undertaken by a more seasoned investigator. Book one is interesting but book two is much more compelling due to Dave's experience and insight. Apparently book one is closer to the real life experiences of author David Putnam while book two is fiction. Putnam does a good job depicting the life of a law enforcement officer while presenting an investigation that enters thriller territory in the second part. There is a satisfying conclusion to the narrative.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Level Best Books via NetGalley.
The review will be published on Barnes & Noble, Google Books, and Amazon.

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In 1979, a rookie cop, Dave Beckett, began his career in Southern California at only 21 years old. With his morals in check and a sweet mom buying his groceries, he takes us along with him fighting criminals. His first cases are controversial and extreme leaving him with countless nightmares and questions. He falls in love with a girl, Beth who worked in one of the markets he frequents. She pleads to him for help finding her boyfriend that has been missing for two years.
In 1988, Dave is fighting to win his wife and 5 year old daughter back. He moved his way up to a homicide detective, but his experiences have changed him and the criminals appear to be on the same side of the blue line as him.
This is based on the author’s own experience in law enforcement, locker room smack, and his colleagues who lose their moral compass by all the corruption that singes their lives.
An excellent story with characters you can relate to and a look at the fine blue line. Thank you NetGalley and Swell Media for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I would like to thank Netgalley and Level Best Books for an advance copy of A Fearsome Moonlight Black, the first novel to feature David Beckett, first as a rookie patrol officer with West Valley PD then as a homicide detective with San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office, set in California in 1979 and 1988.

A Fearsome Moonlight Black is divided into two totally different parts with part 1 covering the rookie years in West Valley and being mostly autobiographical and part 2 covering the homicide years and being fictional. I found it to be a mixed bag, but having never read the author’s work before I don’t know his style.

I think that Part 1 is very realistic. It’s quite slow, despite numerous deaths and arrests, but it gives a flavour of how a young, idealistic man approaches what he sees as his responsibility as a police officer. Part 2 ties together some of the events in Part 1 and it’s exciting in parts. It is well thought out and constructed, but Dave’s cynicism is grating, especially after his wide eyed determination to a good job as a rookie.

The novel is told in the first person and he doesn’t have a great narrative voice. In Part 1 he’s likeable, but quite boring in his recitation of his call outs and endearing in his pursuit of Beth, the woman of his dreams. In Part 2 he’s jaded, cynical and disrespectful of authority, never a crowd pleasing attitude in my house. He’s now separated from Beth, a remarkably stupid woman with anger issues, and trying to win her back. Why is my big question.

In summary there is not much to like about the characters in this novel, but the realism of part 1 and the way that it comes together in Part 2 are admirable.

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A Fearsome Moonlight Black
by David Putnam

Very good, very enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. It's 1979 when we meet Dave Beckett. He is twenty one and in his probationary year with a small town police department. He wants to learn, to do a good job, and to get past this time when he has to put up with the abuse rained down on the lowest man in the force. When his year is up, there will be a new rookie, and he'll be out of the target zone of the harassers.

About the time we meet Dave, there is more action than usual and somehow Dave seems to be too close each time. Dave has gone from wet behind the ears to getting about the roughest education he can get as a rookie. At the same time, he has connected with a high school crush and things are looking good despite the stress at work but then he's attacked and we flash forward to eight years later.

It's now 1988 and Dave has an ugly scar on his face. He also has a five year old daughter and a failing marriage. He wants to get back with his wife and daughter more than anything else but she want's nothing to do with him. His anger issues and his hard drinking past have caused irreparable damage. He works at a different place now and he has a bad reputation. Where he used to be so naïve, he's cynical and willing to walk a crooked line. It seems he's come full circle in some ways though. The murders that plagued his probationary year are coming back to haunt him and he can't let the trail go, even if it means the end of his career. It seems like Dave is going to finish his path to ruin with the dogged determination of a man who is willing to throw everything away, even what is most dear to him.

Thank you to Level Best Books and NetGalley for this ARC.

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I received an ARC through "NetGalley" and I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

This story begins and introduces David Beckett who is on his probationary period with the West Valley Police Department. It covers several periods as he is called to various scenes and describes the efforts that he had to go through as a result. It brings into lite the personal life that David had and how he ultimately got together with Beth, a crush from when he was in school.

The second part of the story had David now working for the Sheriff's dept. and how he once again gets involved with those cases described in the first section. It lays out what Davis did as he again began relooking into them and discovering what was missed. His interactions with Beth once more came into play. The ending is one that you will not be expecting and is worth reading. You won't be disappointed.

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This was a powerful and emotionally engaging book based on experience and with a sense of authenticity. It gives a compelling and immersive depiction of life and duties within law enforcement. It was well-written, with memorable, believable characters, clever dialogue, and evocative of the time and place. A gripping and gritty plot is told from the viewpoint of Dave Beckett, a young 21-year-old rookie cop during his probation period.

David is naive and excited to have a badge, carry a gun and drive a fast car in pursuit of criminals. He joined a small-town police force in Southern California in 1979. He lacks life experiences but has a strict moral code. He believes police are working for the moral good like him, helping to protect society. He soon realizes that some police are in it for the adrenalin rush of excitement, and some join the force for the money. Some of his colleagues are criminals. He is experiencing hazing that he tries to ignore, hoping to gain the fellowship and respect of others. He has two older mentors that give him helpful advice. He is ambitious. In a short period, he stumbles upon and witnesses four deaths through intuition and luck, establishing him as an up-and-coming officer. He now has the respect or jealousy of the other policemen. Three murder, accident, or suicide cases were horrific and will continue to haunt him. Dave is in love with a girl known from school but is too awkward and afraid to approach her. She had a steady boyfriend who disappeared mysteriously, and still yearns for him. His early work almost gets him killed, ending in shock and injury that will remain with him in the future. I felt I was along with Dave in the police car, sharing his thoughts and events.

The story now skips in time to 1988. Dave is now a seasoned homicide detective in the San Bernardino Sheriff's department. He married the girl, but they are on the verge of divorce. Ever since he was nearly killed, he has changed from prey to predator. Three cases still haunt him, and he is now in active pursuit of suspects. He ignores legalities, crosses the line into other investigations and precincts, uses deception to steal case files, and is obsessed with a past mistake. He is troubled to learn that a former mentor and friend is in prison for murder. Dave witnessed the crime scene, which is still engraved in his memory. He is asked to help but cannot bring himself to aid a person he assumes is guilty. Because of his meddling in cases not assigned to him and refusing to follow the rules in his pursuit of truth and justice, Dave is demoted to Bone Detective. His duties are to gather up skeletal remains in the desert. He realizes that three of his past cases are related and connected to his near-death experience.

Now reduced to the role of gathering bones and a few cold cases as punishment, this does not stop Dave from searching for a killer who has caused at least three deaths, and almost his own. He has a complex case on his hands in a suspenseful story where mysteries start to merge. The story became exhilarating and impossible for me to put down. Thanks to NetGalley and Level Best Books for this terrific and informative read. It is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys police procedurals!

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If you pick up this book, as I did, expecting one of the author’s gritty detective novels, you risk disappointment, because it isn’t until 2/3 of the way through that the protagonist becomes seriously committed to solving what eventually emerges as the central case of the novel. This is mostly a memoir with fictionalized elements. As such, it is well done—the author speaks from experience and writes with detail and authenticity about the lives and work of police officers, their training, and their professional and personal interactions. The first half of the book takes place during the young protagonist’s time as a probationary officer. As a rookie, he learns the ropes while being protected by some senior officers and enduring hazing by others. The second half occurs eight years later, when the former rookie is now a jaded homicide detective—one whose own behavior is sometimes questionable. He starts to understand some of his old cases in a different light, and as we finally get into more standard police procedural/thriller territory, the pace and suspense increase dramatically.
You’ll enjoy this book more if you approach it as a memoir, without any expectation that a central mystery will present itself early on. I wish the publisher had made this more clear, maybe even with a subtitle (“a fictionalized memoir” or something like that) so that readers, especially Bruno Johnson fans, could enjoy its fascinating detail without being distracted that it isn’t what they signed up to read.

Thanks to Netgalley and Level Best Books for a digital advance review copy.

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