REVIEW: The Guilty Die Twice by Dan Hartshorn

Title: The Guilty Die Twice by Dan Hartshorn
Pages: 327
Published by: TCK Publishing
Publication date: 1st March 2020
Genre: Legal Thriller
Format: eBook
Amazon UK


Ten years ago, a capital murder case in the heart of Texas split the Lynch family in two. Now, estranged lawyer brothers Travis and Jake Lynch find themselves on opposing sides of the courtroom in a high-profile, grisly double murder case—with another accused criminal’s life on the line. Conscience-stricken Travis left his high-powered law firm to become a public defender, while bullish Jake rose to become District Attorney. The case pits brother against brother in a contest of wits, wills, and legal savvy that will shake the justice system to its core: both Lynches are convinced they’re in the right, but the truth turns out to be more complicated—and deadly—than either could have possibly imagined. 

A drug deal double-cross turns lethal, leaving two corpses and one victim paralyzed for life. The victim never saw the gunman, but he knows one name: Sam Park. Travis defended Sam’s brother years before, and his heart won’t let him turn down the case, even knowing it’ll bring him face-to-face with Jake after ten years of cold silence. Jake, meanwhile, runs afoul of the Austin political machine and needs a high-profile conviction to win a tough upcoming election. And Sam, the star witness and prime suspect, won’t talk—not to Travis, and certainly not to the high-and-mighty DA—and time is running out. 

Can these feuding brothers put aside a decade of enmity in the name of true justice? Or will the truth of what really happened that bloody night go to the grave with Sam Park?

My review:

Thank you to TCK Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I don’t read many legal thrillers, but The Guilty Die Twice has definitely reignited my interest in this genre and I am eager to find other books like it. It’s filled with intricate plots that the author skilfully weaves together to create a compelling story with deeply complex characters and a family feud that had me rooting for a happy ending.

Split across two timelines, the story follows the capital murder case that ripped apart brothers Travis and Jake Lynch ten years ago and the present day when a drug deal double-cross turns lethal, forcing the brothers to come face-to-face for the first time in ten years. The story is told from multiple POVs, but mainly from Travis and Jake. I really enjoyed the stark contrast between the two brothers personalities and behaviours. While Travis is the compassionate brother who takes on cases pro bono, his brother has surged to the top to become Distract Attorney and is a much harder, angrier character. The contrast between the rich and the poor also comes into play here as Travis seeks to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds who can’t afford legal fees, which inevitably means that his own finances suffer. Jake, on the other hand, is much wealthier than his brother and lives a more luxurious lifestyle. Also, while Jake has continued to have lunch with their parents once a week, Travis has kept away and has had nothing to do with his family.

One thing I was eagerly anticipating was the moment they finally come face-to-face and it did not disappoint. Leading up to their meeting, the author emphasises how the betrayal ripped them apart during the capital murder case. Needless to say, I was curious to see what would happen when they finally met and when they finally did, the tension between them was palpable. It was a really great scene and by the end of their meeting, it actually felt like a turning point in the story.

While the relationship between Travis and Jake is the driving force behind this story, there’s a lot of other great characters as well. The female characters really stand out and are also given prominent roles in the story. Christine Morton, who is a political reporter, closely keeps tabs on all the high-profile cases and is always after a quote from the Travis and Jake; Shirley, Travis’ wife, manages their finances and all Travis’ clients; and Claire, their sister, is highly successful. There’s plenty more female characters that are quite successful or confident. While I really enjoyed the plot, the story is definitely character driven.

As I said earlier, this is really compelling story, however, one thing I found disappointing was that we don’t actually see the brothers go head-to-head in the courtroom. They meet before the trial to discuss the case and help each other out but when it comes to the trial, it ended up being completely different to what I was expecting. That was one scene I was anticipating and to have it turn out differently and actually have the trial cut short was rather disappointing. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the twist and the ending that was given – it was really satisfying in its own way, it just would have been great to see the brothers finally confront each other in the courtroom.

Overall, The Guilty Die Twice was a well thought out story with a brilliant cast of characters. The author perfectly brought together all the different plots and showed how they have impacted the present day, which takes immense talent. Dan Hartshorn is definitely an author to watch out for.

Find the book:

Amazon – TCK Publishing – Dan Hartshorn

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