By: Mark M. Bello
Publisher: 8Grand Publications
Publication Date: December 2019
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: March 22, 2020
Yet again, with the fourth book in his Zachary Blake Legal Thriller series, author Mark M. Bello has “nailed it,” to put it simply. He not only wrote a great book with a great returning character, but he centered it around actions that continue to take place in the U.S. of A. (unfortunately). But instead of being anything like the rest, his character and his intelligence has made this story all the more memorable and holds the readers’ interest until the very end. Another great note is the fact that a reader not familiar with this series can be a part of the story in seconds, considering the plot is set up perfectly. Although I recommend reading the other three first, that recommendation is mostly based on the fact that you definitely don’t want to miss out on these.
To begin...we find ourselves ‘watching’ a moment in time that we’ve all read about or seen on the news. An African American named Marcus Hayes is pulled over by police. Instead of a ticket being issued, a gun is pulled. But there is far more behind this. The officer’s name is Randy Jones, and all officers in the area were told earlier that two young African American men had robbed a franchise in the area, so all should be on the lookout for anyone “matching their descriptions.” However, Marcus Hayes’ car has him and his family coming home from a lovely time at the fair. Although Marcus does have a gun in his car, he also has a permit to carry it. When Marcus asks why he’s being pulled over, the officer becomes more annoyed, even though Marcus and his wife are complying with his requests. Confusion occurs over the gun—the officer believes Marcus is going for it, when he is not—and because of the agitation over the robbery beforehand, Marcus is killed by one who vowed to ‘protect and serve’ the community.
In comes the great legal mind of Zachary Blake. If you’ve read the past three books, you will completely like him, understand him, and know that his backstory shows a powerful yet vulnerable guy who knows how to fight. As the representation for the Hayes family (which includes Sarah, the victim’s wife, and their kids), Blake has a true passion to bring justice to these poor people and remind the world that there is a very clear line between right and wrong – no matter if you’re black or white. Blake is a family man himself, so he understands the brutal tragedy this is for the family unit.
Now, there is evidence. Strong evidence, actually, because Sarah caught the entire murder on her iPhone. Which means this isn’t something the officer can say “didn’t happen this way.” However...the question of whether Randy Jones committed murder or if he was actually justified in killing Marcus because he thought he was personally in danger, does come up. Soon we are on the roller-coaster that is our justice system, which at some points in this book you feel should be renamed “the maybe-justice system.” The story goes farther than just the shooting; it involves the reader by showing how a horrible death can alter the family that is left behind. And how, because of seeing something like this and learning something that is absolutely wrong, can be at the core of why race relations are still so difficult in this day and age.
As the synopsis of the book states quite clearly: “The shooting becomes the national headline—the dead man is black; the shooter is white.” Simple, yet a situation so fraught with confusion and wrong ideas that the racial divide seems to widen each and every day.
If I had the power to personally hand out an award, I would hand it to Mark M. Bello for his continuing success, great leading man and plotlines that take reality, bring it to light, and show that, in fact, good guys do still exist in a world that seems to thrive on negativity.
Quill says: After reading Books 1 through 4, the only bad thing about this series is having to wait for the next book.
For more information on Betrayal in Black, please visit the author's website: www.markmbello.com