As an LA undercover deputy sheriff, all Bruno Johnson really wants is to enforce “blood and bone” (lethal retribution) on the thug named Derek Sams. As his daughter Olivia’s former boyfriend and father of her two sons, Derek knows more than he’s saying about Olivia’s death and her missing son Albert. Bruno’s gut tells him Derek had a hand in both. And now with Derek’s release from prison for a different crime, the thug is threatening to get custody of Bruno’s only surviving grandson Alonzo.
The thought of blood and bone is what keeps Bruno out of the crosshairs of depression.
If only the criminals in LA would ease up and let Bruno focus on his directed target (Derek). But dealers keep dealing. Killers keep killing. And the street’s “eye for an eye” mentality continues to settle scores with violence.
Will Bruno ever get his blood and bone on the thug who cost Bruno his daughter and grandson? And could the drive for retribution turn Bruno into a hardcore criminal—one of The Ruthless?
Bruno Johnson is a protagonist to love. Although emotionally wounded, he is brave, extremely loyal, thoughtful, and mostly level-headed. In addition, I really enjoyed Bruno’s relationship with his father and dog!
The author was also an expert at developing Bruno’s sidekicks. While Bruno is the thoughtful and measured turtle, Putnam paired him with ramped-up rabbits, creating an engaging contrast. His sidekick on the streets, Nigel, is a meth addict who doesn’t know Bruno is an undercover cop. An oddly endearing character, Nigel is beyond fidgety, never able to sit still or stay focused. Then there is Wicks, Bruno’s old boss in the violent crimes division. Wicks is a loose cannon, as well as an adrenaline junkie, who typifies…shoot first and ask questions later.
I really appreciated the “voices” in this story. They felt so authentic.
One observation: There were many names in this book! I easily remembered the core characters. The criminals, however, had a real name and a street name so sometimes I was like…wait…is Sammy Ray…Little Genie or Jumbo? Even Bruno had an undercover name: Karl Higgins. I’m guessing this practice is authentic to the streets, but double names in the story made it challenging sometimes. For criminals who were secondary characters, their street name would’ve been sufficient for me.
In terms of the ending, closure for some elements was implied versus acted out and wrapped up. I’m thinking this style might be consistent with other endings in the series. For example, the details (I was seeking at the end) might be part of the opening to the next book?
By the way, I did not feel at a disadvantage by not having read the series installments before THE RUTHLESS (sorry for the double negative!). However, wanting those “closure details” serves as a motivator for continuing with the series! Well done!
QUICKFIRE RATINGS from 1 (ugh) to 5 (woo-hoo)…
Plot (the story): 4
Main character’s likability: 5
Development of supporting character(s): 5
Pacing (how fast did I turn the pages): 4
Believability of the story: 5
Satisfying ending: 3
Tension of the story: 4
Stirs the heart (romantic elements): NA
Did I solve the mystery/guess the ending before the reveal? No (5)
THE RUTHLESS was a well-written, insightful, emotionally-intimate, and authentic-feeling journey into the dangerous world of undercover policing. I highly recommend this 5-star police procedural/crime thriller!