Two bullet-riddled corpses.
Two attorney brothers.
Two sides to every story.
Don Hartshorn’s new legal thriller The Guilty Die Twice is a taut, character-driven puzzle box in which past and present clash in unexpected and electrifying fashion—a page-turner in the truest sense.
A Gripping Texas Legal Thriller and Family Drama
The Guilty Die Twice is the story of a sweltering Texas night when a drug deal double-cross ends in a spray of warm blood and hot lead. The results: two fresh stiffs, one paralyzed eyewitness … and one red-hot murder investigation that’s about to turn the city of Austin upside-down.
It’s also the story of estranged brothers Travis and Jake Lynch—one a bleeding-heart public defender, the other a hard-nosed DA—who see their bitter family feud spill over into the courtroom when they find themselves on opposite sides of this highly political capital case. Travis hates the death penalty and will go to any lengths to save his client from the Big Chair, while Jake needs a high-profile conviction to clinch an upcoming election.
But truth and justice are never absolute, and soon Travis and Jake find themselves tangled in a tightening web of lies, politics, and corruption. Can these embattled brothers cast aside their differences in the name of true justice? Or will the truth of what happened that blood-streaked Texas night go to the grave with the accused?
Equal parts procedural thriller, crime drama, family tragedy, and morality play, The Guilty Die Twice will enthrall readers of all stripes and tastes. Fans of tightly wound thrillers like Due Process by Scott Pratt, The Family Lawyer by James Patterson, Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke, and The Fifth Justice by John Ellsworth will lose themselves in the pages of this gripping novel.
Read on for an exclusive preview of The Guilty Die Twice: we hope you enjoy it!
An Exclusive Book Preview
Please enjoy this excerpt from Don Hartshorn’s The Guilty Die Twice:
“Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”
Travis sat at a battered metal table across from the angriest young man he’d met in a very long time. Sam Park radiated vicious fury, like his body had no way to contain his rage; he practically vibrated with the effort of keeping it in. His jaw was set like stone, his cuffed hands clenched so tight his arms trembled. His dark eyes stared straight ahead.
They’d faced off like this for half an hour, Travis trying to explain himself, his client steadfastly refusing to answer, even to nod his head. It was a grade-school version of a grown-up drama, Travis playing the bleeding-heart attorney and Sam playing the tough-guy defendant. The act had been tedious after the first five minutes; now it was becoming absurd. Travis’s patience was nearly shot.
“Come on, Sam,” Travis tried again, “I just need the answers to a few questions.”
“Fuck you, man.”
The first words his client spoke echoed off the cinderblock walls, surprising Travis. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. Sam glanced at Travis, just a brief flick of his eyes, the barest moment of recognition.
Travis leaned back in his chair and waited. After a few seconds, Sam resumed his lock-jawed pose, but the crack was there. Travis had his opening.
“This is serious,” Travis said. “More than I think you realize. And every minute you keep up this front is one minute less I have to work on your defense.”
“You know where you can stick your questions.” Sam barely moved his head, but he shifted in his chair, tugged at the orange county jail jumpsuit. Looked like he was getting tired of the charade, too.
“Who brought the gun?” Travis asked again.
Sam’s mouth worked, the huge bruise on his lower lip rolling like a buoy on the tide. He’d been in several jail yard fights since since the cops brought him in two days ago, but there had been no official report; evidently Sam refused to rat on any of his fellow inmates.
“How many of you were there?” Travis pressed. “Just you and Roger, or was there someone else?”
Sam turned his mouth down in a grimace and he closed his eyes, but he shook his head—a slight side-to-side—and said nothing.
“Maybe you could start by telling me what happened,” Travis continued. “I need to see things from your perspective.”
His chin lifted and his eyes widened as Sam took a sharp breath. With a sinister glint in his eyes, he turned to Travis. “I remember where I know you from.”
“I told you, I represented your brother,” Travis replied. “You would have seen me arguing his case.”
Sam shook his head. “My parents never let me close to the courthouse while that was going on. You were on TV. I remember, years ago. I was in, like, elementary school.”
It was Travis’s turn to stare straight ahead. “You probably have me confused with—”
“No, it was you,” Sam interrupted. “That was seriously fucked-up, man. Even I could tell that, and I was ten.”
Travis sighed. “If you remember anything about that case, then you know I’m one of the few people who can help you with yours.”
For the first time, Sam relaxed, just the tiniest bit, and he cocked his head to the side. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
Travis took a newspaper from his briefcase and slid it across the table so Sam could see the headline: “DA May Seek Death in Rich Kid Murders.”
At first Sam refused to look at the paper. But the longer Travis sat there, saying nothing, the wider the crack in Sam’s defiance became. Finally, he glanced down and his facade broke. His face went pale, his mouth hung open, and he grabbed the paper with his shackled hands. He shook his head slowly. “Would they do that?”
“If you let me represent you,” Travis said, “I’ll do everything I can to keep that from happening.”
Sam’s face fell, but he recovered quickly, shoving the paper back across the table, pressing his chin upward. “Like you did for Charlie? I don’t need that kind of help, man. I want to stay out of jail.”
“Charlie was guilty,” Travis said, staring Sam down. “What about you?”
“Does it make any difference?”
“It does,” Travis said without thinking, still holding Sam’s gaze. He hadn’t intended to admit it, he had a series of prepared answers to that question, provided by rote to his clients. But something about Sam’s demeanor made him want to wield the truth like a cudgel.
Travis looked away. It shouldn’t make a bit of difference if his client were guilty or not. But it did. “Did you do it?”
His answer was nothing but silence. Travis waited, still turned away, a tactic that sometimes worked. When Sam still didn’t answer, Travis turned to his client, who sat with his head in his hands, breathing deeply.
“Can they hear me?” Sam asked, his voice hoarse and gravelly. His eyes flicked toward the ceiling, toward the closed door.
“This is a confidential conversation,” Travis said. “No one’s listening to anything. And if someone were, they couldn’t use what you said.”
Sam’s shoulders relaxed, and he slumped onto the table. “There was a gun,” he said, “and it … went off … I guess.”
“Who was holding the gun?”
Sam shook his head. “Charlie told me what they do to snitches in prison.”
“Did you know Death Row is solitary confinement?” Travis tapped the newspaper. “Those guys are in their cells twenty-three hours a day. For years. Decades.”
Nodding, Sam bit his lower lip. “How’d they find me?”
“Kenny Galipo,” Travis replied. “Evidently he woke up and your name was the first thing on his lips.”
“That’s the one with the blonde hair?” Sam said, his voice catching.
Travis nodded. “How many of you were there? Just the two of you, or more?”
Sam shook his head, refusing to answer. Travis became suddenly weary of the whole dance, the back and forth. He gathered the newspaper and his own pages and prepared to leave. There were paying clients he could be seeing.
Sam mumbled something under his breath.
“I’m sorry,” Travis said, “I didn’t catch that.”
Sam paused, staring Travis down, once again the thug he had been when he walked in. “Just two.”
Want to find out what happens next? Pre-order your copy of The Guilty Die Twice today and let the mystery unfold!