“The bell above the door jangled. I looked up from the open Wall Street Journal on the scarred, grimy counter. A kid came in with a brisk blast of Southern California winter, his ball cap skewed on his head, pulled down over the top of his hoodie. He was black with dark skin that made him difficult to recognize under the navy-blue sweatshirt hood. Both hands were in his pockets. The kid was about to die.”
The scene is set, and Bruno Johnson moves into action. This is South Central LA Noir; gritty, fast paced and full of the tragedies we see on the evening news.
Bruno, a former member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s elite Violent Crimes Team, served a term in prison and is out on parole. He struggles with the hard realities of life as an ex-con like trying to make a living with most doors of employment closed to him. He is hassled by his former brothers in arms, the police, at seemingly every turn. He lives in an area that will be described as an American battle zone in the history books of our future.
There is a bit of sunshine in the somber world of Bruno Johnson. He is loved by Marie, a physician’s assistant, who saved him from despair in the 4:00 a.m. stretch of his soul’s dark night. He lives for the light he glimpses at the end of the tunnel, redemption in the form of saving some lives for those lost, for the one he took. He and Marie share a mission, they are working secretly to save what they can of The Disposables, abused, neglected children that fall through the great crevices in our society’s safety net for the young and vulnerable.
In this first volume of the series, a chance encounter with his former partner, Robby Wicks (now a high ranking detective), thrusts Bruno into helping investigate a high profile case. This is ‘unofficial’ of course, and made all the more dangerous by his inability to be sure who is really friend or foe.
This is not a cozy book. The subject matter is in the stygian gloom at the edges of our lives. We all know crime exists in the bright, clean new suburbs of our cities. But if you have never lived or worked in the older, decrepit areas of town, you have never had a good look at the crumbling, blighted lives that exist there. This book has a clear-eyed view of the many people who are hungry, hurt, terrified and truly in need of help in our land of plenty. This book has some hard subject matter, but read it. There is hope here and a truly fine hero rising from the ashes of his former self. Highly recommended.
"I really loved The Disposables. It's raw, powerful, and eloquent. It’s a gritty street poem recited by a voice unalterable committed to redemption and doing the right thing in a wrong world. I’ll be first in line for the next one from David Putnam.” Michael Connelly, New York Times best-selling author of The Crossing