SIDESBAR WINTER 2021 - 10

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BOOK REVIEW:
Betrayal of Faith:
A Legal Thriller
(A Zachary Blake Legal Thriller)

by Mark M. Bello
Review By Jules Mermelstein, Esq., author of
Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue

M

ark M. Bello is an attorney who practiced for 42 years
before becoming a legal thriller author. I must admit
that I was not aware of him until he contacted me
on Goodreads to congratulate me on the publication of my first
novel in a legal thriller series. He was about to launch his sixth
in his Zachary Blake Legal Thriller series. I decided to read the
first in the series and to bring this outstanding author to your
attention.
Published in 2016, Betrayal of Faith begins by focusing on
a mother aware of her sons' sudden change in behavior after a
church camping trip and discovering that they were sexually
abused by a priest. Jennifer, the boys' mother, tentatively decides
to accept the advice of the boys' therapist by pursuing criminal
and civil cases against the priest and the Church. Jennifer turns
to Zachary Blake, the lawyer who represented the family three
years earlier after her husband was killed in an accident. But the
legal superstar of three years ago has fallen on hard times after
being betrayed by his former partners and kicked out. Zack was
divorced by his wife, who took everything on her way out. He
is now reduced to representing people who get traffic tickets for
$99 each and relying on court appointments. Although this has
not happened to most of us, Zack's thoughts during this time are
relatable to most of us:
" There comes a time in the life of every attorney when he or
she has two fundamental questions: Why do I need this shit? Is
this why I went to law school? "
All offers made by the Church include the requirement of
strict confidentiality. At first, Zack wants to grab this for a fast
payment but Jennifer, her sons, and their therapist are pursuing
the suit for only three reasons - justice, to eliminate any
guilt her sons might feel, and the prevention of harm to other
children. Money is not the issue. The therapist is convinced
that this was not the first time this priest did this and that the
Church would just cover it up and send the priest to another

10 SIDEBAR

parish to repeat his behavior. Jennifer absolutely refuses and
comes close to firing Zack. Eventually, Zack becomes inspired
by Jennifer, as this dialogue between Zack and his opposing
counsel about an offer from the Church makes clear.
" Five million dollars is an awful lot of money for a case
I'm not winning. I'll take it to her, but she won't accept it.
For Jennifer, this case isn't about money, never was, " Zack
advised.
" What's it about, then? Revenge? " Walsh vented.
" No, justice, simple justice. We tend to forget we went to law
school to pursue justice for our clients. We get so caught up
in the game of the law, we forget the purpose. "
We learn of a clandestine group, the Coalition, working
from inside the Church whose job it is to cover up and avoid
embarrassment to the Church by any means necessary. Zack's
investigator learns of two families who disappeared from the last
parish the pedophile priest worked at approximately the same
time he was transferred to Jennifer's parish.
Drama occurs both inside and outside the courtroom.
Lives are endangered. The threat of violence against any and all
characters pervades this well-told story. As might be expected
from someone with 42 years of legal experience, Mr. Bello does
very well in expressing the fears and joys and changing moods of
being a trial lawyer involved in the most important trial of his
life.
I was especially pleased at one point in this novel while Zack
was alone in the courtroom and his gaze fell on a " silver-plated
plaque above the judge's bench " that read " Justice, Justice, Shalt
Thou Pursue. " Loyal readers of this space know that my first
novel is entitled " Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue. "
This novel has realistic characters, believable events, and
appropriate tension for a legal thriller. I highly recommend it to
you and I plan to read more novels in this series.


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