The Replacements by David Putnam is the second novel about the ex LA Cop Bruno Bad Boy Johnson. He had left for Costa Rica with his girlfriend, Marie, a nurse and eight children they saved from abusive lives. How did he get to this place? Our tale begins with Bruno in his rookie year as an LA cop and he discovers the bodies of four people in a murder/suicide event. A mother shot her three young children and then turned the gun on herself. “Dispatch hadn’t told me this was a hostage exchange – the term used for child custody conflicts. The adults never acted like adults, and the losers were always the children caught between parents they loved, with their petty conflicts and wounded egos. The parents’ bitter emotions were the worst to deal with in these incidents. People became irrational. Child custody calls tore at my gut. I couldn’t stand to see children cry and I always had to suppress the urge to do something about it.” (p 2) After reading The Disposables, we know he finally succumbed with the aid of Maria and his father to save eight abused children. We find our clan in Costa Rica in this new tale from Putnam.
On the news, Bruno sees a former friend and now a deputy chief speaking about two kidnapped girls. This former friend was Barbara Wicks the wife of his former partner, Robby, who is now dead. The kidnapper will only speak to Bruno. The kidnapper of the girls is Jonas, the little boy Bruno rushed to the hospital that fateful day 20 years ago. So Jonas is replacing his dead sisters. But why?
Lots of twists and turns and weaving in and out of FBI surveillance, local cop chatter, and of course being on the lamb back in the LA area makes moving around and solving another heinous crime involving kidnapped and abused children. Putnam keeps pointing out hos the justice system doesn’t help abused children and how the criminal system is useless in rehabilitation. He is making a strong social statement using his personal knowledge and weaving a sorrowful tale for us to consider. A good story with a moral conundrum, what’s better on a snowy day in the middle of the winter.