James D. Bell
Sartoris Literary Group (2019)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (02/2020)
“Maximilian’s Treasure” is the sequel to James D. Bell’s debut novel, “Vampire Defense.” Combination legal thriller and action/adventure, this story is an exciting dive into a world of lost treasures, greed, corruption and sensationalism – it’s a “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” kind of page-turner, set in modern-day Philadelphia, Mississippi.
A hidden treasure and a battle for a Choctaw family farm sets the stage for an exciting adventure. Attorneys John Brooks and Jackson Bradley take the case to help Frank Dalton keep his family farm but when the family patriarch is murdered in a drive-by shooting during a family gathering, it’s clear there’s more than a property rights struggle going on. The grandson of the patriarch goes after the shooters, and their bodies are found, scalped. Things aren’t looking too good when the grandson goes missing. Still basking in the glory of winning their last case, a “case of the century,” Brooks and Bradley quickly realize this scramble for the treasure could be even bigger!
This is such an entertaining read. Well-written, intense and told with vibrant details, it’s a complex narrative involving multiple storylines that all come together to create a story you won’t soon forget. I love the author’s writing style, it’s obvious he enjoys what he does. He can be gritty when called for, such as inserting a scalping into the mix. When a little “girl-likes-boy-and-boy-doesn’t-have-a-clue” type of interlude presents itself, Bell craftily adds delicious attitude, jealousy and bewilderment. His humor shines through in the everyday interactions between the characters, one of my favorite passages follows and it made me laugh aloud. From page 33:
“Please make this simple for me, before we get to ‘I know, that you know, that I know,’ because I don’t even know what I know, let alone what you know that I know and that’s the truth. I think.”
“Could you say that again?”
“I don’t know.”
And the characters – wow. There are numerous characters to contend with in this well-woven story but they each leave a distinct impression. The good guys are really good, such as a couple of attorney’s with hearts of gold who basically mortgage their business to help their clients. Another gem is a patriarch who would make the ultimate sacrifice for his family if necessary. The bad guys are really bad and will resort to any means necessary to find the legendary treasure – including taking a couple of scalps, drive by shootings, framing innocents – you get the idea. There are also those characters in between who vacillate between good and evil. All of them engage the reader and pull them into the story. It’s memorable characters like the ones James Bell has created that keeps me reading long past my bedtime.
I didn’t read “Vampire Defense” but found “Maximilian’s Treasure” stands well on in own merit. There were, however, enough references to “Vampire Defense” to pique my interest – I may just have to back-track and pick it up to get the full picture. Not only that, but the ending just might hint there’s another story on the way! Overall, “Maximilian’s Treasure” by James D. Bell is a book I can highly recommend to fans of adventure and legal thrillers, as well as those who love a good dose of family feuding, treasure hunts, romance and a bit of bloody action!