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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
If you’re a fan of courtroom procedurals, you can always count on Mark M. Bello to provide you with a detailed look at what usually only the lawyers, the judges, the accused, the jurors, and the immediate families witness. In Betrayal in Black, Bello brings us face to face with one of today’s hottest topics: the racial divide in America, when a white cop pulls over a car with a law-abiding black family inside and in a moment of panic shoots and kills the father in front of his wife and children. What follows is a step-by-step accounting of the hours following the shooting i.e. local police procuring details of the incident, the heartbreaking reactions of the victim’s wife, the media frenzy to be the first to scoop the story, and as in the recent real-life case of the horrific and unnecessary death of George Floyd, the subsequent protests.
In Betrayal in Black, the devastated widow hires a high-profile trial lawyer, Zachary Blake, to represent her in a civil suit. While awaiting the Grand Jury’s decision on whether to indict him, the suspended cop agonizes over his personal culpability while his fellow police officers deal with their own conflicting feelings regarding the shooting. Readers are enlightened on the legal implications and are emotionally moved by what all the key players, including Zachary Blake, are feeling and thinking. Once the case hits the courtroom, we see in precise detail how lawyers win and lose cases. That, for me, is one of the best things about reading a novel by Mark Bello. In typical Bello fashion, apart from an interesting story, expect to also get Bello’s own thoughts on racism through the words and actions of his characters. It’s a clever way to give readers more to think about than just the plot. Bello uses dialogue, for the most part, to move his story along, resulting in a quick read that comes to a satisfying close. Mark Bello’s legal fiction fans will no doubt enjoy Betrayal in Black as much as his several previous books. Indulge yourselves!