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Review: A Courtroom Massacre
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Gary Dale Cearley
Reviewer  Gary Dale Cearley is an expatriate American who chooses to write about controversial material. His subject matter tends to run the gamut from historical subjects to biography and even humor. Originally from Arkansas, he has spent several years in Korea as well as Vietnam and is now living in Thailand.   
By Gary Dale Cearley
Published on December 19, 2008
 



Author:  Mark Porto

ISBN-10: 1411662318

ISBN-13: 978-1411662315

Johnny Bellow, the protagonist, is a take it or leave it type person who is an unlikely hero.  A Naval reservist who, defending his parents and their property, kills four “teenaged punks” who had formed a gang and were terrorizing Bellow’s hometown of Black Water, New York.  Johnny killed the gang members while they were in the process of robbing his parents’ store and unlucky customers who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

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Author:  Mark Porto

ISBN-10: 1411662318

ISBN-13: 978-1411662315

Johnny Bellow, the protagonist, is a take it or leave it type person who is an unlikely hero.  A Naval reservist who, defending his parents and their property, kills four “teenaged punks” who had formed a gang and were terrorizing Bellow’s hometown of Black Water, New York.  Johnny killed the gang members while they were in the process of robbing his parents’ store and unlucky customers who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Unbeknownst to Johnny bellow, one of the dead gang members had family in high places, in this case an uncle who was a powerful New York state senator, so “the system” began the process of putting Johnny Bellow away.  Eventually Johnny Bellow was charged with crimes of using excessive force, non-registered weapons, etc.  And this was the fight during the rest of the book where unswerving, but not unnerved, Johnny was in and out of jail and scrapes with the law and the town around him only because he was a lone vigilante protecting his family.  The “system” and the town turned against the young Naval reservist who had dared do the right thing by killing four robbing thugs and ridding the town of riff raff – they should be grateful!

Most of the character development and plot seems to be a bit one dimensional to me.  I personally think there is something to the slogan that says “If you take the guns away from the people, only the criminals will have guns.”  Mark Porto seems to make this the basis of the book so I found myself not being surprised by what any of the characters did throughout the book.  I believe that what the author was trying to do here was to create a character around in idea rather than to give the character his own personality.  I found that even though the book was all about friction, the system against Johnny Bellow, I never really felt conflict because of the predictability of the plot.  Try as I did I couldn’t find many redeeming traits in a character as bullheaded as he.  Willing to do the wrong thing because he was standing up for the right thing.  Unfortunately, I felt like I was reading the script a B movie.

That having been said, there were also things about the presentation of the book itself that I felt needed scrutiny.  I am not one of those “style over substance” people but right or wrong I felt that this book needed lots more work all the way around.  Some of the best books I have reviewed have been self published books or books published by small publishing houses.  They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, well, sometimes you can.  You can see the effort that was, or was not, put into the project.  In this case the cover seems to be from a template and the formatting inside the book just doesn’t look right.  The font is way too small, making it difficult to read the book fluidly.  Also there is a huge gap of space at the top of the page whereas the bottom of the page seems to be okay.


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