Today’s review is an interesting one. I am always on the hunt for a good legal thriller. If I’m not watching Suits, I’ve now given up attempting to count the number of times I’ve watched it, you can find me watching legal-centric YouTube videos from Legal Eagle or Eve Cornwell. This interest has also seeped into my academic life as my current research is focusing explicitly on capital convictions in the US and their representation in literature. It’s almost as if the team at TCK Publishing knew this when their invitation to review The Guilty Die Twice dropped into my inbox and I jumped at the chance.
Firstly, I want to clarify a common misconception I often see concerning three-star reviews. This rating does not equate to me thinking this is a bad book. In fact, quite the opposite. I use three stars to identify a solid, okay to good book and you can find a further break down here.
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. Can these feuding brothers put aside a decade of enmity in the name of true justice?
— Publisher synopsis, TCK Publishing
The Guilty Die Twice follows the Lynch brothers across two timelines; the primary timeline in the current day investigating the double murder case and you see their relationship breakdown by following the Sutton case ten years previously. Whereas their younger personalities are consumed by their actions, reactions and opinions relating to the Sutton case, current-day Travis and Jake Lynch are certainly distinctive. Hartshorn does an excellent job here depicting the evolution of the conflict between Travis and Jake from exclusively professional to intensely personal which, in an extended family of legal and political professionals, will recapture their professional lives. However, Hartshorn continues to succeed by establishing very different lifestyles for the two Lynch brothers throughout their ten-year grudge without showing any preference for one said over the other.
Alongside the two brothers, each facing informing difficulties of financial and career difficulties, Hartshorn also creates an engaging cast of characters including their successful sister Claire, their wives Rita and Shirley, Velasquez and Christine Morton a journalist who follows the Lynch brothers throughout their cases. Slightly surprisingly, given that I was initially drawn to the topic of the plot, it was the characters who kept me turning pages. There is a good balance between the lovable characters you just want to see more from, notably Claire and Shirley, and mysterious members of the cast, specifically Velasquez, as I just wanted to learn what they were up to. There is also Christine Morton who falls into both categories. As the cast is intrinsically interconnected there is palpable emotion and tension in each interaction, however, the explosive emotion of the scenes between the Lynch family are true highlights of Hartshorn’s writing. This also extends to the case itself as Hartshorn crafts an intriguing crime scene during which he intricately hides who pulls the trigger.
As I mentioned above, I was drawn to this title due to a personal research interest in depictions of capital punishment. The Guilty Die Twice certainly doesn’t disappoint in terms of establishing the legal battle, the paperwork involved and a clear instance of lethal injection. These aspects were certainly interesting and demonstrated the full scope of legal procedures and practices. However, I must admit I was disappointed to see the traditionally climactic trail scene was cut short. While I appreciate this decision contrasts the fictional expectation of a dramatic trail with the common reality that many legal battles are settled behind closed doors, however, in a title that set up the conflict between two brothers which seemed made for the courtroom I would have liked to see both brothers going against each other in court.
Despite coming in at 260 pages, I did find the pacing quite slow and often misplaced. While the opening was suitably gripping, I found myself wanting to get through the middle sections quicker than the pacing or plotting would allow. The characters were gripping me and pushed me through as I wanted to discover what they were up to; however, the plot contained some aspects of convenience which unfortunately didn’t quite live up to the anticipation.
Overall, I did enjoy challenging myself to die into a book I wasn’t expecting to receive, and I found intriguing characters, interesting depictions of capital punishment and a legal setting which I certainly enjoyed. However, the slow pacing of the middle section and the feeling of missing the climactic trail led me to rate this read three stars.
Are you a fan of legal thrillers? If you are please leave some recommendations in the comments!
The Guilty Die Twice was published by TCK Publishing in August 2019.
I was e-mailed by the Author Support Specialist at TCK Publishing, after they read my review of Ruth Ware’s Turn of the Key, with two titles I may like to review. After recieving this e-mail I chose to review The Guilty Die Twice and I was given a free e-book copy in exchange for this honest review. Thank you to Maria Inot and TCK Publishing for this opportunity.
If you’re an author or publisher and think I would be interested in any of your titles please get in touch using the details below. You can find my review guidance page here.
None of the links in this article are affiliate links. I have no obligation to post links to Waterstones, Amazon or Goodreads and I have no financial relationship with them. This is linked for ease of access should you wish to support the author and publisher by purchasing a copy.
Buisness E-Mail: Vickylordreview@gmail.com
Goodreads: Vicky Lord