Mark Bello’s readers from Metro Detroit will see many references to their hometown and surrounding suburbs, as well as references to Jewish life in Detroit, in all his books.
Retired attorney Mark Bello of West Bloomfield spent his career trying cases for social justice. Now in retirement, he has culled knowledge from those cases and from other social justice issues plucked from the headlines to pen and self-publish Betrayal, a series of legal thriller novels. His sixth book in the series, Supreme Betrayal is loosely based on the hearing and appointment of Brent Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
As a trial attorney, Bello said he witnessed convictions of innocent men who lacked the resources for a strong defense litigator.
“Practicing law became more of a passion than a vocation for me and compelled me to challenge the system and provide a voice to the disenfranchised,” he said.
One case that has haunted Bello through the years is a sexual abuse and cover-up case involving a Detroit Catholic church that Bello litigated and won in the 1970s. Bello tried the case in civil court, which he won for his clients. The priests were also convicted in criminal court and served time in prison.
When the case concluded, Bello resolved to someday write a book about it. Decades later, he self-published Betrayal of Faith (2016), which in turn propelled him to write five more in the Betrayal legal thriller series — Justice (2017), Blue (2018), Black (2019), Betrayal High (2020) and, released this April, Supreme Betrayal.
Zachary Blake, the main protagonist in his books, is based on his own experiences growing up Jewish and practicing law in and around Detroit. Bello said he created Blake as a young man who was inspired to become a lawyer and pursue justice after listening to his grandfather’s survival stories from Auschwitz, chronicled in Bello’s novella, L’Dor va Dor (2020).
Bello’s readers from Metro Detroit will see many references to their hometown and surrounding suburbs, as well as references to Jewish life in Detroit, in all his books.
A lifelong Detroiter, Bello grew up in a modern Orthodox household in Northwest Detroit and as a child attended Beth Abraham Synagogue, where his grandfather was a founding member. His earliest memories include congregants who did not live in walking distance to synagogue staying at their house on the High Holidays and an uncle breezing through the entire Haggadah in Hebrew at Passover seders.
After practicing law cases, he then owned and managed a lawsuit funding company for 22 years when he began to toy with the notion of writing novels about the cases he witnessed where common citizens were wrongfully treated by corporations, the insurance industry, government or police enforcement, he said.
Now, at age 69, he has seen the explosion of the legal thriller genre and is hoping his Betrayal series will find an audience starting where the books are set, right here in Detroit or in Michigan. His novels highlight social issues of the day, from Black people being murdered by white police officers at routine traffic stops, a murder mystery set in a small northern Michigan town involving white supremacy, school shootings, and the rise of the candidacy and election of a billionaire for president.
It was his second book, Betrayal of Justice — based loosely on the candidacy and election of Donald Trump — that inspired him to keep writing four successive novels that are fictional accounts plucked from the news of the day.
“It took me 30 years between coming up with a novel idea, putting it down and working to publish it finally in 2016,” Bello said. “I really thought I would only write one book. It was not the first novel that inspired me to write the second, but it was completing the second that inspired me to write the next five.
“I discovered that with character development and research, I was able to write about issues I did not have direct experiences with as a lawyer. There are plenty of topics in the news that inspire me as a writer, and I hope it, in turn, will inspire my readers to think more deeply about social justice issues.”