Review: The Guilty Die Twice – Don Hartshorn

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: Two attorney brothers. Two bullet-riddled corpses. Two sides to the story.

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? – via Amazon

So. The Guilty Die Twice had me convinced to give it a try based on the synopsis. I do quite enjoy a legal thriller, so I was all for it. Also, the case being carried out by two brothers on opposing sides seemed like it could be interesting.

The story is split between the past and the present, and again between the two brothers. However, I found that the pacing of the book was excruciatingly slow, especially for such a short read. I also never connected with the characters. Shirley came across as a cold hearted woman, Jake was toxically angry, Travis was stubbornly all for throwing everything away to help the downtrodden, Christine was a bloodthirsty reporter, and Velasquez was just a vapid, unconvincing phoney. Then there was Sam, and he is just a grade A piece of work.

So it was difficult having no characters I liked or could root for. I also found the setup for the story to be quite confusing initially as there were a ton of characters to try and keep track of. Later you do make sense of it all, and there is a decent story buried under it all. The book obviously has a lot to say about the death penalty, which is interesting to read.

The Guilty Die Twice is a short book, but it does feel slow. It features a lot of childish characters and focuses on a heavy issue. It’s not nearly as thrilling as I was hoping, but it wasn’t an awful read. It kept me reading, though not obsessed. People that enjoy legal thrillers will likely enjoy this.

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