4 out of 4 stars
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Betrayal in Blue by Mark M. Bello is the third book in the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. In this novel defense attorney Zack Blake is drawn into another high profile case. In retaliation for the events in the second novel, the white supremacist group, The Free America Party, plans an attack on the police and Muslim community in Dearborne, MI. Their planned use of sarin gas, a deadly chemical agent, spawns dissension in their own ranks and leads to the unraveling of their plans. The Dearborne police are pushed to the side of the investigation when the FBI steps in, which causes the operation to succeed but allows the leader of the party, Barton Breitner to escape. Afterwards, Dearborne task force captain, Jack Dylan, takes matters into his own hands. He follows a trail of clues to northern Michigan and attempts to infiltrate Breitner's operations. When his plan backfires, Jack Dylan suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Facing murder charges and persecution by fellow law enforcement and the FBI, Dylan turns to Zack Blake to free him.
Like the previous books in this series, the courtroom elements are my favorite parts. Bello's own personal experience in the field shines through. It reminds me of the television shows Perry Mason and Matlock, with modern technology and investigative techniques mixed in. The novel has a generous dose of humor in personal interactions, which is also enjoyable. The plot in this novel is a bit more involved than the previous ones, and the action once again takes center stage. My least favorite of elements was a slight stiffness in some personal dialogues. Some word usages seem not in keeping with the style of conversation, for example:
In this passage, the word "cop's" seems unnecessary. There are several of these unneeded descriptives in the dialogue and while they take nothing away from the story or action, they do give the flow some pause."I have no idea other than an educated guess, or a cop's hunch, if you will."
I also enjoyed the minimal reiteration of action and plot from the first two books. The information provided was thorough and brief, making the story a stand-alone book while providing enough background to satisfy curiosity and set the stage for the action of the current novel. I also liked that this information was spread throughout the book rather than dumped on the reader completely in the beginning. Bello's writing continues to improve. The action scenes are more intense, the characters are more developed, and the dialogues are more involved. The editing errors are so few and far between that I was majorly impressed with the improvement.
The involving courtroom scenes and descriptive investigation techniques lead me to recommend this novel to fans of crime drama and mystery. I feel readers will enjoy the fast-paced action and witty dialogues. Zack Blake's courtroom dialogues are a great source of interest. The very technical and realistic scenes provide an interesting glimpse at the inner workings of courtroom procedures. Bello, I feel, has taken great pains to relate proper experience incorporated with an entertaining fictional scenario. I feel that of these novels, this one, in particular, would translate excellently to the screen.
Overall, the Zachary Blake Betrayal novels continue to impress, and I give Betrayal in Blue a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. The fast action, involved court and investigative procedures, interesting plot, and the memorable characters are sure to please fans of crime drama. Since the action is not gory or grotesque, I feel comfortable recommending it to readers of all sensitivities, but the subject matter and adult themes make it unsuitable for younger readers. I look forward to reading the next installment.
Betrayal in Blue
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