Novelist shares colorful stories from detective days

David Putnam spent many years chasing criminals before getting published.


Amelie Lee

Former detective David Putnam spoke to students last Friday.

Ex-cop and current author David Putnam spoke to Diamond Bar High School students last Friday about his crime book series featuring  detective Bruno Johnson. Inspired by 30 years of experience in law enforcement, he has used his knowledge in the field to create his fictional stories.

Throughout all periods, teachers who signed up to attend the guest presentation brought their classes to the theater to listen to Putnam’s insight on his former and current career experiences.

Putnam worked as a police officer for Ontario, Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County. During his time in law enforcement, he focused mainly on criminal intelligence and narcotics. Putnam pursued murder suspects and bank robbers in Arizona, Nevada and California.

“My first real experience as a cop was a robbery near the market by my house,” Putnam said.

Spending a majority of his law enforcement career in California, Putnam then decided to move to Hawaii, where he worked for the state attorney general as a Special Agent to investigate white-collar crimes. Due to the lack of criminal activity and active cases, Putnam focused more on his writing career.

The retired officer was invested in reading ever since childhood and always knew he wanted to be a cop, even before his father, a retired cop himself, shared with Putnam his experiences being in law enforcement.

“I love writing—I would get up at four in the morning and write for three hours,” Putnam said. “I’ve been writing since 1989.”

Even though Putnam is  retired, he said he still remembers the thrill of chasing the most violent criminals, which is shown in his series. After writing roughly 38 manuscripts, he managed to get his first book, “The Disposables,” published through Oceanview Publishing with his wife’s networking.

The Bruno Johnson series follows an ex-cop who is also an ex-con who rescues abused children from toxic households. As a cop, Johnson couldn’t rescue the children in need because there were too many rules and regulations that he had to follow. Now that he is working in faction, he no longer has to follow those rigid rules.

“Each book has a snapshot of my career at a certain time,” Putnam said. “My recent book was about my time when I was working in bank robberies, and it’s based on a true story. About 80 percent of the story is true.”

Since three of the Bruno Johnson books were released as “The Bruno Johnson Trilogy” in 2017, he’s added three more book to the series, “The Vanquished,” “The Innocents” and “The Reckless,” his most recent.

The new novel, published this month, revolves around a case given by the FBI to Johnson. The suspect, a notorious criminal known as Darkman, is involved in an unsolved triple-homicide case and it  up to Johnson to bring closure to the victims’ families and catch the perpetrator.

Students attending his presentation laughed as Putnam shared a funny story on his newfound fear of heights as he jumped from a plane for the first time while training for SWAT. At the end of the presentation, copies of his books were given out to random students.

“I really appreciated his dedication to his job and how he found it to be more like an enjoyable hobby rather than monotonous work,” senior Adam Go said. “I learned that people who work in fields they truly enjoy never regret their work.”