Monday, August 26, 2019

The Bird Boys ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Review & Giveaway!

A Delpha Wade and
Tom Phelan Mystery
  Genre: Gentle Noir / Mystery / Women Sleuths
Date of Publication: August 20, 2019
Number of Pages: 306

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The new novel from award-winning author Lisa Sandlin catches up with the almost-murdered secretary Delpha Wade (The Do-Right, 2015, set in 1973) as she’s released from a hospital in order to be tucked into the back seat of a police cruiser. Her boss, P. I. Tom Phelan, sets out to spring her. He needs her back in his investigation business, where he’ll soon be chasing a skulking grand larcenist and plotting how to keep a ganjapreneur out of the grabby hands of a brand new agency, the D.E.A. Delpha digs through old records and knocks on strange doors to unravel the dangerous case of two brothers with beaucoup aliases—verifying that sometimes truth is not true, but murder is always murder.


Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“What makes this crime novel soar is the humanity and humility of its main characters. It is by turns exciting, tender, suspenseful, observant, and gently funny. Readers will eagerly await the next installment.” 

Booklist, Starred Review
“Sandlin’s sequel soars on the wings of its spot-on evocation of a time and place and its utterly compelling central characters... A first-rate series crying for word-of-mouth support.”

Kirkus, Starred Review
“Proving that anything old can be new in the right, talented hands, Sandlin has crafted an outstanding series that readers will want to follow and savor.”

Robert Faires, Austin Chronicle
"I confess that as a Beaumonster who remembers that city in the early seventies, the book has a special appeal; Sandlin gets so many details just right. But you don't have to have lived there to be captivated by The Bird Boys. Its characters, wit, exquisite prose, and sense of redemption are so richly crafted that they'll stick to most anyone like, well, a shirt to your skin on an August afternoon in Beaumont."


HALL WAYS REVIEW:  Even days after finishing The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin, the weight of it surrounds me. The book is heavy, nuanced, and the very best of noir fiction. This second installment in the Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan Mystery series again had me completely immersed in the 1970s and the world revolving around these two characters. There is a top-notch primary mystery that as it unravels, reveals layer upon layer of surprises and switchbacks involving sketchy people and perpetrators. But the waters are muddied, and Tom and Delpha have to find a way to see through them to get to the truth.  Along the way, there are several side-cases that require the help of Phelan Investigations, and each involves quirky and colorful characters that readers won’t soon forget.

“People don’t like people that are indigent, Tom. 
They think they can catch it.”

Author Lisa Sandlin writes with a unique style and cadence to which I became accustomed in The Do-Right, book one of the series. The dropped conjunctions, the alternate spellings, and the deliberate word choices and phrases place readers fully in the moments as they unfold and enhance the sense of setting and situation. Peppered with pieces of history – like the Watergate hearings, the Billy Jean King/Bobby Riggs showdown, the $1.60/hour minimum wage – The Bird Boys not only informs (or for some of us, reminds), but that organic drizzling of facts lends an air of authenticity to the story. The historical elements pull-in the reader, and while Sandlin shows that great strides have been made since the ‘70s, she also shows where society hasn’t much evolved.

“Outside, steam was masquerading as air, and the small parking lot to the side of the building was an archipelago of blacktop islands
amid a rainwater-sea filling its ruts and dips.”

“Sultry September opened its square mouth and breathed.”

The art of Sandlin’s writing is in her observations and glorious descriptions that set the tone and lend to the mood. But amidst the gloom, Sandlin sprinkles in the ordinary delights that Delpha, free from fourteen years of incarceration, enjoys: the wind on her face through a rolled-down car window, the ability to fail without painful consequences, a flock of birds in flight, spontaneous trips to the library, simply existing on her own terms.

“That’s what I’m telling you. That’s what we do. There’s . . . 
there’s a whole army of reference librarians out there—every town in America.”

I must take a moment to say that in The Bird Boys, I love the prominence of the library and librarians as essential research tools, at the ready for anyone who needs them. It makes my librarian heart sing! But also, I like how via the library, readers see a little bit more of Delpha in her interactions with the feisty librarian, Angela, but we also see more of what’s happening inside Delpha’s head and how her mind works. One of the subtle feel-goods of the story is watching Delpha learn and grow and begin to find self-confidence and self-worth. And the library helps Delpha find order in the chaos. I can relate to the comfort it brings Delpha to rely on lists, on organization, on process. (ooh! I dropped my conjunction! It’s the Sandlin Effect!)

“What was in front of him was a clear and present treat 
followed by a comets-tail of trouble.”

While readers learn much about Tom and Delpha through their internal monologues (the story is told from both points of view), their external dialogue and interactions with each other ooze with innuendo. It is in this tentative relationship that by book’s end, readers see a glint of something shiny . . . is it hope? Can it be snatched out of the murky waters of the bayou or will it sink, never to be found again?

Having read both books in the series, I highly recommend readers do the same. The Bird Boys can stand alone, but it is immeasurably enriched by the experience of first reading The Do-Right and by knowing the backgrounds of the characters and their relationships. Looking for giggles and endings that will move you to tears of joy? Move along. But looking for intriguing characters, intriguing premises, and depth? The Bird Boys has those in spades. Don’t miss this thought-provoking series.

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours, the author, and Cinco Puntos Press for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

Lisa Sandlin is the author of The Do-Right, winner of the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America and the Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers. Her new mystery thriller The Bird Boys is set in 1973 in the same town she was born, Beaumont, Texas. Her previous books are The Famous Thing About Death and Message to the Nurse of Dreams, Cinco Puntos Press; In the River Province, SMU Press; and You Who Make the Sky Bend, Pinyon Publishing.

THREE WINNERS: Choice of eBook or Print Copies of THE BIRD BOYS
August 20-30, 2019
(International - eBooks only)

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