The Story

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The novel I’m getting published is titled – for now – Special Circumstances. That title may change during the editing process. It’s not the first novel I’ve written, but it is certainly the first one published.

A friend of mine – a prosecuting attorney from Dallas – inspired it before he died. He used to work for the Texas 14th Circuit Court of Appeals in Houston, which hears the majority of death penalty cases in the State (death penalty convictions are automatically appealed). He used to tell me that the death penalty cases he saw might seem murky and vague from a layman’s view, even though the facts were usually very cut and dried. He wanted to do a television show that explored that hazy area, where the facts might not be all… factual to the general public, if that makes sense. He died before we could start any project together. So I created this story to try to accomplish his vision. It’s taken me a few years to get it to the quality I feel does justice to him and his career, and it’s a work I’m proud of.

Below is the query/ elevator pitch/ hook for the story. Some of this will almost certainly change during editing. I’ll let you know how much remains once the process is finished.

One bang of the gavel and one betrayal estrange two brothers, both Austin, Texas attorneys. Their consciences take them in different directions and Jake becomes the District Attorney while Travis becomes a public defender. Ten years on, a grisly double murder puts them on opposite sides of the same death penalty case, and while at first each is certain they’re in the right, the truth turns out to be far more complicated than either imagined.

A drug deal double-cross turns deadly, leaving two corpses and one man paralyzed for life. The victim never saw the gunman, but he knows one name: Sam Park. Travis defended Sam’s brother years before, and takes Sam’s capital murder case even though he knows it will bring him face-to-face with Jake after ten years of acrimonious silence. Jake has run afoul of Austin’s political machine and needs a high-profile conviction, like a capital murder case, to win a tough upcoming election. Sam learned from his brother what happens to squealers in jail, and he isn’t talking to anyone, not to Travis and certainly not to the DA. As the case develops and details emerge, the brothers each try to stay one step ahead of the other while trying to determine if Sam is a cold-blooded murderer or just a guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Special Circumstances tells the story of unresolved family conflict that spills over into the professional arena where reputations, relationships, and lives hang in the balance. Looming over everything is the specter of the events ten years ago that put the Lynch brothers on such different professional paths. What one brother sees as a very public betrayal the other sees as an awakening of his principles, and these different views set them on a collision course for each other.

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