Combining his impressive legal background, knowledge of politics and knack for storytelling into a second accidental career as a writer of legal thrillers, Pacific Palisades resident Ron Barak published his first novel, The Amendment Killer, last November.
Barak weaves a compelling tale about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arnold Hirschfeld, who is forced to choose between saving the life of his diabetic 11-year-old granddaughter, Cassie Webber, and saving the country. The story unfolds as Hirschfeld learns of his granddaughter’s kidnapping, via text message, just as hearings have started to determine the fate of the (hypothetical) 28th Amendment enacted to criminalize the abuse of power by politicians in Washington, D.C. Retired U.S. District Court Judge Cyrus Brooks, who is in court to defend the amendment, notices that his old friend Hirschfeld is acting strangely and decides to call in D.C. veteran homicide detective Frank Lotello to help decipher what is happening. Meanwhile, insulin-dependent Cassie, kidnapped to control her grandfather’s swing vote on the amendment, watches her insulin pump running dry and wonders if time or the kidnappers are her greatest threat.
A suspenseful page-turner that keeps readers wanting to know more, The Amendment Killer makes for quite a good read, especially for a guy who started writing novels on a dare from a friend after a round of golf. While discussing a popular book whose author had left the novel’s ending unresolved, Barak’s golf buddy chided him to do better. Encouraged by his wife, Barak embraced the challenge—without disclosing he was writing until he had completed a draft.
His newfound passion for writing led Barak to attend writers’ conferences, read how-to books and find a mentor in New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher novels, Lee Child, who has sold over 100 million books. Child read an earlier draft of The Amendment Killer and provided Barak with invaluable advice on character and story development, working with Barak at a writers’ conference in the Bahamas and supplying a quote for The Amendment Killer book jacket.
Barak is proud to use his book as a vehicle to raise awareness about diabetes, a condition he has lived with for 30 years. He notes that an epidemic-level 30 million Americans have diabetes and has pledged 50% of the net proceeds from the sale of The Amendment Killer to fund diabetes research and education.
Beyond the Book
While dedicated to writing, Barak occasionally flexes his legal chops for friends and long-time clients or to work on cases that pique his interest. Having practiced law for the past 50 years in Los Angeles, Barak specializes predominantly in real estate transactional and courtroom law, representing local and international developers and investors.
Barak’s successful career has taken him to Japan, where he gained fame as a member of the United States Men’s Gymnastics Team in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. An extremely talented gymnast, Barak competed internationally while earning his undergraduate degree in Physics at USC. During this time, he earned eight gold medals at the 1961 Maccabiah Games in Israel, scoring him a private dinner with Golda Meir.
After graduating from law school at USC, Barak embarked on a distinguished legal career which included a 23-year stint at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker—the last few as co-managing partner—and 10 years at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
It is no surprise that this dynamic and intellectually progressive man is working on his next novel, The Puppet Master, a prequel to The Amendment Killer about a vigilante serial killer in modern-day Washington, D.C. Barak plans on publishing The Puppet Master this spring, along with a third book at year’s end. The three novels are part of the Brooks/Lotello thriller series.
When he is not writing, Barak can be found at the Brentwood Country Club golf course, reading novels and watching “good” movies and television shows. He and his wife Barbie—who met in junior high school—have made the Palisades their home for 20 years. They have two children and four grandchildren.
The Amendment Killer is available in hardback, paperback, ebook and audiobook versions at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other book sellers. To learn more about Barak, visit RonaldBarak.com.