Book Review: Betrayal at the Border
Reviewed by Jaylynn Korrell
A thrilling immigration story about the issues many immigrants face when they call America home
Author Mark M. Bello tackles serious current events like Hispanic immigration, ISIS crimes, and devastation in Syria in Betrayal at the Border. Root for good-hearted characters and the lawyers that represent them in this high-stakes legal thriller.
The main character, Zachary Blake, is a cocky lawyer. He’s the kind you may not necessarily like but would definitely want on your side should you ever find yourself in a legal mess.
In this 7th book in the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller series, the odds are stacked against two separate groups of immigrants living in America. The first is a couple originally from Venezuela but living in the Detroit area. After coming to America legally and overstaying their visa almost 10 years ago, Miguel and Mary Carmen Gonzalez have set up a nice life for themselves and their two young children. All is well until ICE visits their city and arrests the couple, leaving their children to fend for themselves in a separate, but equally despicable, ICE detention center.
Another family is having trouble at the border; only this one is located in Syria when Canan and her daughter Hana attempt to visit their family. The town that Canan comes from is in the midst of a war, but her mother and grandmother have yet to meet their granddaughter Hana. That is what drives Canan to make the possibly dangerous journey home.
After they land, they are they taken hostage by ISIS soldiers and become in need of some pretty serious help.
Both Zachary Blake and his new partner Marshall are left with the task of helping these people find their way out of the dangerous and life-threatening messes they’ve found themselves in. With everything stacked against them, both groups see Zachary Blake as their only hope.
The journeys of these characters are heart-wrenching at times and inspiring at others. Bello does an excellent job of writing the reasoning behind each family’s choices, and creating sympathy by putting family at the top of their priority list.
The Gonzalez children are a highlight in this book. Their situation, at not even 10 yers old, is going to really grip readers here. Immigration issues can unfortunately become normalized in today’s society, but no reader will be able to look past the idea of children being taken away from their parents and living in such harsh conditions.
Bello allows his younger characters to remain hopeful and strong while maintaining their childlike innocence. These children characters help to balance out the sometimes uncaring attitude of his other characters. Zachary Blake, though good at what he does, can sometimes come off as too relaxed by making jokes at serious times and making light of situations that quite literally are life or death. Pairing him as a character with people in such need is odd, and sometimes lacks the sympathy I wish for.
Though sometimes heavy-handed, Bello works hard to tell us a compelling story while infusing it with all the facts & legalities of the cases he’s covering. A lawyer himself, Bello puts Zachary and Marshall in talks consistently about the specifics of the Gonzalez case and the ways that they can make it work for them. The legal details, as well as the facts about each case, are repeated often and sometimes weigh down the story.
Overall though, this still comes out as an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. All of the characters show perseverance, and the journey to their potential freedom turns out to be a wilder ride than readers will suspect.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Political
Print Length: 291 pages
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