Book Summary
Just days after their dramatic courtroom victory in the “Case of the Century”, John Brooks and Jackson Bradley find themselves embroiled in an even bigger case. The respected patriarch of a Choctaw family is murdered in a drive-by shooting during a family gathering on their farm. His grandson pursues the murderers. Three “rednecks” suspected in the drive-by shooting are found on the farm, dead. The grandson is charged with their murder.

The sensational news that the victims were scalped grips the attention and imagination of the media. Expecting a resumption of the wild west range wars, the world press descends upon Philadelphia, Mississippi, along with Black Lives Matter and the Klan.

In addition to defending the criminal charges, John and Jackson must protect the farm from efforts to take it from the family. Rumors that a vast treasure is hidden on the family farm place Brooks and Bradley in the center of a deadly power struggle that spans centuries and continents. Just when John needs them the most, Jackson leaves to chase rumors of treasure and Karen leaves to pursue a man who “appreciates” her. The only person left to help John is a mole planted in his office by his opponents.

A homicidal maniac obsessed with desire to murder Brooks, Bradley and Karen stalks them. Mystery, romance, murders, and courtroom drama consume Brooks, while Bradley pursues a trail of clues from Mississippi to a sunken Caribbean wreck, to a hidden jungle valley in Chiapas. Bradley isn’t the only one on the trail of Maximilian’s Treasure. Three ruffians, a wealthy adventurer with a private army, an exotic beauty, and the homicidal maniac are only a few of those in pursuit.

The characters you fell in love with in the award-winning novel Vampire Defense are back in this explosive story. Will John Brooks live long enough to find the love of his life? Will Bradley live long enough to find his true treasure? The fate of nations, tribes and people will be decided in battles fought simultaneously in a Central American jungle, in a courtroom in Mississippi and in the hearts of the people in this epic adventure.

Read My Other Books

Vampire Defense

James D. Bell

Maximilian’s Treasure

James D. Bell

Readers’ Reviews

Maximilian’s Treasure, the latest novel by attorney and judge James D. Bell, is a fast-paced, cannot-put-it-down-until-it’s-finished masterpiece. Maximilian’s Treasure seamlessly weaves multiple plots and characters in a heart-pounding thriller that has it all: courtroom drama, family feuds, treasure hunts, romance, murders, travel, and more. Whether you are in the mood to read about a brilliant, young lawyer fight for his clients in a Mississippi courtroom or if you want to read about scuba diving in the Caribbean to a sunken ship with treasures, this is the book for you. Don’t wait, get Maximilian’s Treasure and buckle up for the adventure of a lifetime without leaving your living room!

From D. Miller

I got this book as a paperback. Rarely ever do I read anything that isn’t on an e-reader. I don’t like to read paperbacks. They are hard for me to hold and I can’t change the print size. But this looked like a good book. Well, no matter how hard it was to hold, I couldn’t put the thing down. I read 300 pages in 3 sittings.

This story does at one point switch back and forth between occurring actions. This can be confusing sometimes but it didn’t bother me this time. Each part was quite clear, and it seemed as if they began to weave together. I think the only thing that bothered me was being upset with the author that I couldn’t find out soon enough or read fast enough to know what was going to happen in in each section. I don’t think most authors would be upset by such a complaint though.

There are many important characters in Bell’s book. The main lawyer, John, made me think of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith goes to Washington. You know, that kind of character that seems somewhat naive and yet behind the scenes is a shrewd, smart man. One who can use his naivete as a distinct advantage. This is not to say there are a few times John isn’t a little slow on the uptake, but it is most certainly not in the courtroom. John’s partner Jackson is also an interesting character. One you could easily picture in a tv series as one of those slow-going, smart as can be, private detectives. Do you see what’s happening here? James Bell made characters that I have perfect pictures of in my mind. I can even tell you what Karen, John’s assistant, looked like or Peter the young kid they helped. To write well enough to have created a picture of pretty well every character in your reader’s mind is good writing. I suppose that is why I enjoyed the book so much.

In researching his work, I found only a couple of books published by James D. Bell. I sure hope he’s working on another one.

From LAS Reviewer

In a book that is fast-moving and exciting, author James. D. Bell delivers a book that is full of layers and intrigue—and the reader won’t be able to turn away.

I love the way he is able to give us characters that are powerful and developed yet are trying to navigate the waters of the world they find themselves in. There are current issues that are addressed and the question of what one will do to get what they want definitely comes up time and again.

Jackson Bradley is a man who loves justice and wants to see good prevail, but what will it cost him? That is part of what you will discover as the book moves forward.

Full of intrigue and suspense, MAXIMILIAN’S TREASURE delivers a fun read that will have you asking what comes next.

From Cyrus Webb

Retired Judge James D. Bell is having quite a time in his golden years, turning the legal world on its head with novels of suspense, thrills and a whole lot of fun. … Set a court date with “Maximilian’s Treasure.” Bell delivers an over-the-top adventure that keeps the reader entrenched with suspense, murder, pure evil and two honest attorneys who only want to give justice its due.

JC Patterson

Special to Mississippi Clarion Ledger USA TODAY NETWORK

“A deftly crafted and riveting great read from cover to cover, “Maximilian’s Treasure” is a complex saga by novelist James D. Bell. Unreservedly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections …”

Wisconsin Bookwatch: January 2020
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review

“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’thave-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!

Susan Hoyte

Maximilian’s Treasure has it all — a lot of legal thrills, a little bit of romance, the occasional scalping, an adventurous pursuit of gold that takes us from Mississippi to Hispaniola and Mexico and just enough unmistakable-but-not-preachy Christian message sprinkled in to weave it all together.

We follow attorneys John Brooks, who’s a Christian, and Jackson Bradley, who’s not, and they start out by going to extraordinary lengths to protect a Choctaw family’s farm from those who want to twist the foreclosure process as a means to swiping land on which they are certain that an ancient treasure — last located by an executed, 19th-century Mexican emperor named Maximiliano — can be found.

Out of the fertile soil of this setting in Philadelphia, Miss., all kinds of subplots emerge as the pursuit unfolds — a race war, an episode of arson, a drive-by murder with the heavy scent of frame job . Each is spun in intense, riveting detail, with a dollop of humor when you least expect it. All roads lead to a mad dash for a treasure that not everybody’s certain even exists.

Bell brings a realism to his writing borne out of his career as a Mississippi Circuit Court judge and out of his family background — he’s part Choctaw — that fuels the enjoyment of reading his work. Even more, at least three of the characters are based on real-life people who recently passed away, including Bradley, who died in 2001. In fact, Bell even inserts himself as a minor character late in the book. We won’t spoil the ending for you, but suffice it to say that it’s a wild ride to the finish. Due to some mature themes, Maximilian’s Treasure merits the Dove-approved seal for Ages 12+.

Darryl M.

Blog Posts
Dear Reader…

Do you have a passion for justice? Do you enjoy white-knuckled adventure, mystery, courtroom drama, true love and belly laughs? If so, then join lawyers Brooks and Bradley in the legal thriller, Maximilian’s Treasure, a dramatization of a real-life experience I had forty years ago.

A grizzled old Choctaw man told my friend and me that he believed that Civil War gold was on his farm in Mississippi. He believed that Maximilian, the Emperor of Mexico, sent gold to support the South’s war effort, and that none other than Jesse James, then a member of the Confederate Cavalry, was in charge of the shipment. The war ended when the gold was near his farm and was hidden there. He asked us to help him look for the treasure. This was too far-fetched to believe, but my friend and I said, “Why not?” We travelled with him to his farm and had a great day listening to his stories while we searched with him. You might think this unusual. It’s not. It’s just another day of law practice in Mississippi, where the unusual and outlandish is an everyday occurrence.

Read More

About The Author

James D. Bell is a retired County, Circuit and Chancery Judge who practices law in Mississippi. He is the author of the award winning, best-selling novel, Vampire Defense.

Follow James