Feathered Quill Reviews
Reviewer:  Diane Lunsford
Review Date: December 10, 2012

Retired Judge James D. Bell delivers a captivating tale in his debut novel, Vampire Defense. In the opening scene, Mr. Bell hooks his reader with the nuance of an evil that lurks in the small Mississippi town of Belhaven. Young Patrick Simmons takes on a dare from his buddy Jack Robins to go up and knock on the door of a creepy and worn, ninety-year-old Victorian house. Little did they know as he approached the house, the two boys were about to witness a horrific event. All they wanted to do was see if that house really was haunted. As they lay their bikes down and begin to cross the street, two cars come careening around the corner. Scared, the boys jump back into the holly bushes for cover and watch the horror unfold before them. When the first car comes to a screeching halt and a man jumps out of his car he fails to close the door as he runs around to the front of the car. Close behind, the second car crashes into the door and the boys witness it fly off its hinges before it comes to rest at the curb. It is when the short dark man jumps out of his car; Patrick realizes it is ‘Got Fried,’ Godfrey Plova, the creepy house's home owner.

The blonde-haired man from the first car, Hal Boyd, jumps Godfrey and a vicious fight ensues. Paralyzed, the boys take further refuge in the holly bushes; hoping they are not seen. As neighbors began to gather a shot rings out. Godfrey is dead and Boyd races toward the house, kicks the door in and disappears into the darkness. Moments later the once quiet street is flooded with police cars, witnesses, and the image of the majesty of that Victorian mansion engulfed in flames. Seconds later, Hal Boyd is walking out of the flames and down the steps toward the gathering crowd and turns himself in to the authorities; but not before confessing he killed a vampire. Shortly thereafter, Bell introduces his star character, attorney John Brooks. When Brooks realizes he will be defending a man who killed another, confessed to the killing and did so because he believed he was a vampire, Mr. Bell cleverly uses his wealth of legal knowledge and experience and works a believable insanity defense into the story’s premise. At the onset, Brooks is handed a fair amount of ridicule not only from his community, but national news coverage as well because of his Vampire Defense. However, this is the least of his concerns as a series of unfortunate events continue to unfold.

Mr. Bell has done a fantastic job of seeding a multitude of twists and turns to this story, but nowhere is the reader ripped off with cheeky dialogue or ridiculous situations. With his vast knowledge of the legal process and jargon, Bell takes the reader on an adventurous tale that translates into pure entertainment. He has done an excellent job of plotting out his story from beginning to end. For a debut novel, there is nothing novice about this story. I applaud Mr. Bell for his passion in the writing of Vampire Defense. If this is any indication of the writing he has in store for us, I would venture to say he will be as equally successful with his writing as he was in his admirable legal career. I look forward to (hopefully) the many stories Mr. Bell shall pen in the years to come.
Quill Says: Grab yourself a V-8 and sink your teeth into Vampire Defense. You won’t be disappointed.   

Vampire Defense Review
By:  Harriet KLAUSNER
Genre Go Round Reviews
Friday, November 30, 2012

In Jackson, Mississippi lawyer John Brooks works ethically and diligently providing the best legal advice to his clients. The court administrator appoints Brooks with his first media-frenzy case; defending Hal “the Butcher of Belhaven” Boyd who is charged with arson and four counts of murder. Boyd tells Brooks his reason for living ended when he killed the creature who destroyed his fiancé; and now he just wants to die.

As the international press comes to Mississippi for the Boyd trial, Brooks files a guilty by reason of insanity plea; as his client claims he killed a vampire. The media and the legal world have a field day ridiculing the “Vampire Defense”while heaping scorn on the dedicated attorney and his staff. Soon threats to drop the case arrive followed by assaults, arson and abductions.

The Vampire Defense is a terrific over the top of Woodall Mountain “paranormal” legal thriller that enthralls the audience with wondering whether the undead live. Fast-paced, fans will widen their definition of good and evil with obsessed individuals willing to do anything to further their agenda. With a double helix climax, fans who appreciate something different will want to read the legal defense of an avenging vampire slayer and cultists seeking their brand of revenge; caught in the crosshairs is Brooks and his team.


Reviewed by Paul Johnson for Readers' Favorite


John Brooks is a brilliant young lawyer working hard, but not getting much notice. What he really needs is one big case to show off his talents. That case comes along when he is hired to defend Hal Boyd, AKA, the Butcher of Belhaven, on charges of arson and four murders. But, things don’t look so good when he announces to his defense: “Not guilty by reason of insanity. The defendant is completely insane and totally believes the person he intended to kill was a vampire.” That is only the start. Soon other problems arise as kidnapping and multiple murders occur as the action moves from the city to the swamp to the courtroom. Then add a little romance and of course a verdict that shocks the world. The story isn't over with the verdict but with a final battle between good and evil. Or is it?

Wow, what a great read! Here you have murders, vampires, courtrooms, and beer. What could be better? I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It started a tad slowly with multiple plots and subplots but after the action got going it moved with incredible speed to a great climax. At first I found it hard to classify this book by genre but after meeting the outstanding cast of characters I didn't even try. The dialogue is superb and most fitting for a work such as this. I did enjoy the ending and of course, a little is left over for the next book on Lawyer Brooks and Company. One of the best stories I have read in a long time.

Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth, Bookloons.com

In Jackson, Mississippi, John Brooks is a smart young lawyer who works hard to retain his reputation as a winner. But, will the case he was just assigned, pro bono, by the sitting judge end his career just when he is getting off the ground?

Hal Boyd, known as the butcher of Bellhaven, is to be his new client at the state's expense. Charged with four murders and a case of arson, Boyd claims that he was forced to act to kill the vampire. Needless to say, the media derides Brooks when he announces that his client is not guilty by reason of insanity. His client is convinced he was chasing a vampire!

An intriguing case. Could Boyd really have killed a vampire? Is his plea just a scam to get him off? Things heat up when Brooks discovers there is a satanic cult in town intent on murderous revenge against Boyd and his defense team.

Vampire Defense is written by a highly respected retired judge. So the reader can be sure the author knows of what he speaks. And he writes a heck of a story. If vampires are your bag, this is definitely the book for you. If vampires don't spark interest, the story will still intrigue. Throw in a little gospel and you've got good reading material.