Politics, Secrets, and Family Drama Deliver a Fresh Take on the Legal Thriller in Don Hartshorn’s ‘The Guilty Die Twice’ [REVIEW]

They may be brothers, but in the courtroom, they’re at war. (Photo courtesy Canva)

They’re better off working alone. They have vastly differing views on the law. Sometimes, though, even rivals have to bury the hatchet. But can two brothers suppress their animosity long enough to exact justice? Find out in Don Hartshorn’s new legal thriller, The Guilty Die Twice.

TCK Publishing

Brothers are naturally competitive with one another. Yet the Lynch brothers take sibling rivalry to a whole new level. In fact, they see things so differently they haven’t spoken in a decade.

That all changes when they find themselves on opposite ends of the same politically charged capital murder case. Two men are dead. Another is critically injured and a fourth is nowhere to be found.

As the public defender representing the accused murderer, Travis Lynch is determined to get at the truth. But the more he digs, the more lies he uncovers, most of them leading straight to the deepest pockets in Huntsville, Texas.

Jake Lynch, on the other hand, is Austin’s high-powered District Attorney. As such, he likes his cases open and shut, particularly in an election year. He’s grown accustomed to playing the political game and will do whatever it takes to keep his job, which means that he knows when to apply pressure and when to back off. It’s a lesson Travis has yet to learn.

Now that they’re tackling the same case, attacking it from vastly differing perspectives and ideologies, the courtroom becomes their battlefield and their family feud is put on display for everyone to see. There are seriously more fireworks here than at a Fourth of July picnic.

In fact, throughout the novel, the brothers’ interplay is so realistic I began having PTSD flashbacks to my own childhood. As one of seven, my siblings and I always had plenty to argue about, so I could tell that Hartshorn likely writes from experience. He captures their passionate spats that well!

In fact, as reminiscent of my own youth as this story was (and is, for that matter… we’re all still quite opinionated, just like the Lynch brothers), I liked the complexity of their family dynamic, because it rang so true and I could totally relate to it. Thus it became the most redeeming part of the whole novel for me.

Sure, the case itself is interesting and the politics intriguing, but it is the civil war between brothers that I like best. The family drama adds another layer of tension to yet another legal thriller, and this is something I don’t really recall encountering that often. The result is a fresh take on the genre, one that readers with a penchant for the dramatic are going to adore.

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Don Hartshorn
Don Hartshorn


Don Hartshorn is an author, freelance editor, volunteer mediator, and globetrotter. He draws inspiration for his stories both from man’s highest aspirations and from his petty, grimy motivations.

After traveling the world for the US government and doing time as a prisoner of Corporate America’s well-oiled machine, this Texas native son has come home to roost at last in San Antonio. And there he’ll stay—until the next big adventure comes calling.

For more information, visit the author at his home on the Web at DonHartshorn.com and follow him on Twitter.

By Don Hartshorn
261 pp. TCK Publishing. $14.99

Purchase The Guilty Die Twice direct from Jathan & Heather’s Beach Reads Book Shop or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, IndieBound, or Powell’s.

About Heather Fink
Heather Fink is a writer, bibliophile and award-winning librarian who loves to introduce the next generation of readers to the wonderful world of books. She currently resides in Texas.

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