'Betrayal' of sorts


Attorney/author looks forward to mingling with readers

By Kurt Anthony Krug
Legal News

Attorney/author Mark M. Bello didn’t think he could write a novel.

“It’s hard to believe that I could write one book, let alone three, and (I’m) working on a fourth. I honestly didn’t think I had it in me,” said Bello, 65, of West Bloomfield.

Bello – along with fellow authors Sarah Zettel, Patricia Abbott, Judy Lee Burke, Con Lehane, and Meg Macy – will mingle with fans and sign their books at the Holiday Open House at Aunt Agatha’s, located at 213 S. Fourth Ave. in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 2 p.m.

“The open house is a fun, casual event where the goal is for readers and writers to really mingle and get a chance to talk. We have a wide array of the types of books represented – cozy, historical, legal thriller, noir – so there’s something for every kind of reader, and a signed book makes a nice gift,” said Aunt Agatha’s co-owner Robin Agnew.

“I’m so excited to be part of this celebration. My favorite thing to do for the holidays is snuggle with a good book and a beverage. The only problem with spending the day at Aunt Agatha’s is there’s so many good books to choose from,” said Zettel, who’s promoting her latest two novels in the Rosalind Thorne series of historical mysteries – “A Useful Woman” and “A Purely Private Manner” – under the pseudonym Darcie Wilde.

Bello is looking forward to discussing and signing his two novels “A Betrayal of Faith” and “A Betrayal of Justice” – both featuring lawyer Zachary Blake – at Aunt Agatha’s.

“I enjoy attending bookstore events and talking to like-minded readers about topical legal and political issues whether they share my views or not. Ann Arbor is a wonderful ‘college town’ with a challenging, educated population. I look forward to discussing my books and my legal and political views with its citizens,” said Bello.

A Detroit native, Bello earned his undergraduate degree in English literature from Oakland University in Rochester and his juris doctor in law from what is now the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing. He has been a practicing attorney for more than 40 years. He and his wife Tobye have four children and eight grandchildren. 

“My (parents) inspired me to go as far in school as I could and become a professional. I chose law because I wanted to be someone who made sure that justice was applied equally to all citizens of this country, regardless of ethnicity and economic circumstance,” said Bello. “I own and operate a Michigan-based lawsuit funding company which helps litigation plaintiffs financially, while their cases are pending. I have been doing this for 20 years and I practiced law in Michigan for (more than) 20 years before starting my company, Lawsuit Financial, Inc.”

Writing his first novel was a bucket list item for Bello.

“(‘Faith’) was inspired by a Michigan case that I handled in the mid-1980s in which two boys were molested by a priest. The experience was something that I believed would make an important book and I promised myself that I would one day write that book, which – ultimately – I did. So, cross that off my bucket list,” he said.

“Faith” – set in Farmington Hills with the trial scenes occurring at Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit – touches on the “conspiracy of silence” Bello encountered from the Catholic church, its hierarchy, and its legal representatives.

“The Coalition is a fictional group but describes what the legal combat experience with the church felt like to me,” he said. “This was the toughest legal challenge of my professional career.”

“Faith” also introduced Zachary Blake.

“Zachary is a plaintiff’s lawyer and is loosely based, in part, on me. However, I was never ‘down and out’ like he was, nor was I ever as skilled or successful as he became. I guess you could say that he became the lawyer I would like to have become. As to the name of the character, Zachary is my son’s name and Blake is one of my nephews,” explained Bello. “On the plus side, I’ve been happily married for 42 years and never fell on the hard economic and personal times that he went through. He almost destroyed his career, went through a bitter divorce, and fell in love with his client – something that I would never do. He needed redemption. That was never me.”

“Justice,” his second legal thriller which is set in Dearborn, was inspired by the still-controversial 2016 Presidential Election between Donald Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“As it became clear to me that Trump had a chance to be elected, I began to wonder what it would be like – especially for Muslim Americans – for our government to be run by an Islamophobic, racist bigot who was an inspiration to white nationalists everywhere. I began writing the book in October of 2016 and finished it in early March of 2017. Sadly, many of the actions and policies advanced by my fictional POTUS have been advanced by our current president,” explained Bello.

His third book, “Betrayal in Blue” – also set in Dearborn – is scheduled for an early 2018 release. Not only does it bring back Blake, but the police officer Jack Dylan, who was introduced in the second book.

“I’m very proud of the book because I wrote it without the profound inspiration – an actual case and a presidential election – that prompted my first two novels,” said Bello. “From a self-evaluation, self-satisfaction point of view, I proved to myself that I could write a great novel without any particular current event inspiring it. That’s pretty cool if I may say so myself.”

For further information on the Holiday Open House at Aunt Agatha’s, call (734) 769-1114.