In Bello’s (Betrayal of Faith, 2016) latest thriller featuring Michigan attorney Zack Blake, a Muslim woman seeking justice for hate crimes becomes the prime suspect for the murder of a white supremacist.
Ronald John won the U.S. presidency on the platform of ridding the country of a “Muslim scourge.” White supremacist Keith Blackwell fully supports the president and, believing it’s time for action, initiates a series of anti-Muslim crimes in Dearborn, including firebombing a mosque. Twenty-five-year-old Arya Khan has serious doubts about authorities’ devotion to finding the criminal, though a task force led by chief of detectives Jack Dylan locks onto a suspect. When Arya learns it’s Keith, she plans to bring him to justice only to inadvertently witness someone stab him to death. She calls 911 and hurries to Keith’s aid, but to police at the scene, the bloody woman looks like a prime suspect. Zack takes Arya’s case, and with evidence stacked against her, he’s convinced the only way out is to identify the actual killer. That turns out to be the most crucial issue, since the killer, presuming Arya saw him, wants to make certain she stays quiet—permanently. Bello’s novel is unmistakably topical. President John’s plan involves securing America’s borders from illegal immigrants. This further adds another layer to the already sympathetic Arya; her parents are just two of the numerous Muslims in danger of deportation. Notwithstanding a spotlight on the recurring protagonist, there’s apt coverage of the task force. Jack, who mocks Arya’s profession of innocence, may soon believe her, much like detective (and fellow Muslim) Shaheed Ali. Accordingly, there’s only a modicum of courtroom scenes, but Zack’s legal mindset evokes refreshingly blunt dialogue: he predicts that prosecutors and cops “will not want to admit that the terrorist in this case is the white guy.” The story’s baddies are blatantly villainous, Bello making it abundantly clear that bigotry is deplorable.
Commendable sophomore effort, even when the protagonist takes a back seat.