The Bird Boys

The Bird Boys

After a serial killer almost murdered Delpha Wade (The Do-Right, 2015), the county hospital releases her into the handcuffs of the city police for questioning. The reason is she killed the man who was trying to kill her, and she is, after all, an ex-con. It's still Beaumont, 1970s, and mindsets don't change along the Texas Gulf Coast. Her boss, the neophyte private...

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Title:The Bird Boys
Author:Lisa Sandlin
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Edition Language:English

The Bird Boys Reviews

  • Gram

    "The Bird Boys" is the sequel to "The Do-Right", continuing the story of private investigator Tom Phelan and his secretary, Delpha Wade. The previous book ended with Delpha killing a child abuser and serial killer after he attacked and stabbed her in the office of Phelan Investigations.

    This story opens with Delpha being taken to the local police station in the small Texas city of Beaumont. Delpha has already served 14 years jail time for killing a man who raped her and, at first, things look

    "The Bird Boys" is the sequel to "The Do-Right", continuing the story of private investigator Tom Phelan and his secretary, Delpha Wade. The previous book ended with Delpha killing a child abuser and serial killer after he attacked and stabbed her in the office of Phelan Investigations.

    This story opens with Delpha being taken to the local police station in the small Texas city of Beaumont. Delpha has already served 14 years jail time for killing a man who raped her and, at first, things look bleak. But with the help of her boss and a whip smart lawyer, all she has to suffer is a police interrogation before she's released, innocent of any crime. In fact some police officers thank her for ridding the world of an evil man.

    Soon, she's helping Tom track down the brother of man called Xavier Bell, who tells them he wants to make peace with his brother. But Tom & Delpha discover Bell is lying and the case becomes more complicated and dark the more they discover about these two brothers.

    Lesser cases distracts Tom when the boss of a large store has him checking out who's stealing white goods from his business and a married woman asks him to find out where her husband goes at night, worried that he's up to no good.

    As with "The Do-Right", the writing is beautiful and a joy to read. "The Do-Right" won the Shamus Award for Best First P. I. Novel in 2016 and The Hammett Prize and if there's any justice in this world, "The Bird Boys" will garner many more awards.

    If you enjoy excellent crime writing, read the Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan Mystery Series. These are books to be savoured and the words will linger long after you've finished reading. Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan are characters you want to find out more about. Highly recommended.

  • Emily

    Shout-out to the Booklist reviewer who wrote the review that inspired me to download this; it's from a small press and could easily get lost in the never-ending stream of mysteries, but I'm so glad I picked it up.

    I like my mysteries heavy on character and atmosphere and with enough care toward the lives of the victims that they don't feel too prurient or too light. This checked all my boxes. the detectives here are a newbie PI and his secretary who is recently out of prison after serving 14

    Shout-out to the Booklist reviewer who wrote the review that inspired me to download this; it's from a small press and could easily get lost in the never-ending stream of mysteries, but I'm so glad I picked it up.

    I like my mysteries heavy on character and atmosphere and with enough care toward the lives of the victims that they don't feel too prurient or too light. This checked all my boxes. the detectives here are a newbie PI and his secretary who is recently out of prison after serving 14 years for killing a man who was raping her. She's a fascinating character, cowed by her time in prison but still curious and proud. The setting is Beaumont, Texas, 1973, and Sandlin's writing drips with atmosphere. I'm reading another book that's all telling not showing, and this is exact opposite - she tells you almost nothing, just puts the details on the page for the reader to work out.

    Bonus points for a delightful (and stereotype-busting) librarian character.

  • Ruthie Jones

    "Everyone should have something that is lovely forever."

    The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin is gripping, but not because the pace is overly fast, or the action is nonstop. This story will grab you because the characters, especially Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan, are complex, layered, and compelling. To get the full picture, you need to read the first in the series, The Do-Right (2015), which is fantastic. The Bird Boys picks up where the first book leaves off, so it would be unwise to read them out of

    "Everyone should have something that is lovely forever."

    The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin is gripping, but not because the pace is overly fast, or the action is nonstop. This story will grab you because the characters, especially Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan, are complex, layered, and compelling. To get the full picture, you need to read the first in the series, The Do-Right (2015), which is fantastic. The Bird Boys picks up where the first book leaves off, so it would be unwise to read them out of sequence. You wouldn't want to anyway because the characters are so wonderfully flawed and beautiful.

    The first book establishes the characters and sets up the fledgling private investigation firm called Phelan Investigations as the backdrop for the series. In The Bird Boys, Tom and Delpha take on the case to find a long lost brother, but the ensuing investigation opens up a box of riddles, confusion, and lies that lead the two on a convoluted hunt for answers and the truth. The overall setting in both books is Beaumont, Texas, during the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. This time frame means that the investigations are slow affairs and require the ingenuity, patience, and cunning that have become somewhat lost in our modern digital age of convenience and instant access to, well, everything.

    While the investigative main plot and an investigative subplot are interesting and a huge focus of the overall story, it is the delectable characterization that pushes The Bird Boys (and The Do-Right) toward perfection. Tom is still relatively young, yet he often comes across as an old soul. Delpha is in her early thirties and is burdened by a troubled past filled with immense struggle and heartache (all presented in the first book). Watching both of these characters develop and blossom and stumble once or twice before righting themselves is pure entertainment.

    Lisa Sandlin's writing is controlled yet mesmerizing, and she imbues the overall plot with expertly crafted characterization, providing a work of moderate crime drama that is both intriguing and engaging in its complexities, understated humor, dark moments, and realistic narrative. Becoming completely engaged in the story is easy and immediate, so be prepared for the inevitable reluctance to stop reading occasionally so that you can eat, sleep, and live your life.

    The main story of Tom and Delpha solving the case of the Bird Boys is steeped in bad blood between two brothers that spans decades, leaving nothing but sadness and loss in its wake. This part of the story will have you pondering the folly of grudges, hate, and greed and then comparing all that to the wonder of new freedom, budding affection, and a hopeful eye turned toward a promising future. While Tom is a fun and interesting character, Delpha will burrow into your heart and stay with you. She is truly flawed yet all the more likable for her mistakes, vulnerability, and stark determination to live a free life on her terms. She is resourceful out of necessity and completely wary of emotions and affection. The ending scene between Tom and Delpha is almost staggering in its gentle and subtle brilliance as these two drift ever closer. They are still delicately exploring the depth and boundaries of their relationship, and I personally can't wait for the next book.

  • L.A. Starks

    Best book I've read this year. While a literary and beautifully descriptive writer, Lisa Sandlin can also construct a great plot about meaningful subjects. This second Tom Phelan & Delpha Wade book easily equals the first.

    Highly, highly recommended to everyone on Goodreads.

    Sandlin writes with great empathy and, as a Beaumont native, is the rare writer who doesn't sneer at this part of the world and the people who inhabit it. What a relief! Beyond that, here are a few of the many, many

    Best book I've read this year. While a literary and beautifully descriptive writer, Lisa Sandlin can also construct a great plot about meaningful subjects. This second Tom Phelan & Delpha Wade book easily equals the first.

    Highly, highly recommended to everyone on Goodreads.

    Sandlin writes with great empathy and, as a Beaumont native, is the rare writer who doesn't sneer at this part of the world and the people who inhabit it. What a relief! Beyond that, here are a few of the many, many passages I enjoyed. The first, in particular, nails the refinery towns I have grown up in and worked in:

    "Without the refinery, Port Arthur might be a village with a little fishing, people selling to day-trippers down to dabble in the water or serving the bankers whose sailboats snugged into the marina. Refinery gave you hamburger and chicken five nights a week instead of macaroni or collards and cornbread, gave your family a pickup truck and a sedan, sent your girl to nursing school and your boy to college with a slipstick in a case."

    A few other gems--For example, In a general store scene:

    "She hefted a double-barrel to her square shoulder like she needed to hold off Housewares with it."

    in a jail scene,

    "These items were puny and a surprise and their juju all the stronger for that."

    and in a legal scene "throwing the protection of the law over her like a coat and not a net."

    The Bird Boys deserves every award I hope it wins.

  • Kristine Hall

    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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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!)

    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. This full review and other special features on

    .

  • Roger

    In the interest of full disclosure department: I know Lisa Sandlin, and think of her as a good friend. The story of how we met is (I think) amusing but I will omit that because it really is not germane to the issue at hand, which is this: what is the skinny on The Bird Boys, her latest novel? If you've been reading my reviews long enough, Constant Reader, you know I have spoken previously about the ethical dilemma I experience when I review a book a friend has written. You always want to give a

    In the interest of full disclosure department: I know Lisa Sandlin, and think of her as a good friend. The story of how we met is (I think) amusing but I will omit that because it really is not germane to the issue at hand, which is this: what is the skinny on The Bird Boys, her latest novel? If you've been reading my reviews long enough, Constant Reader, you know I have spoken previously about the ethical dilemma I experience when I review a book a friend has written. You always want to give a friend's book a positive review yet at the same time you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear-if the book you are reviewing is awful you have an obligation to be truthful about that. Happily as The Bird Boys is excellent I'm in good shape. This novel continues the story Lisa started in The Do-Right which won a Dashiell Hammett Prize and a Shamus Award. (Street cred!) I think you will enjoy reading about the "further adventures" of Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan in the Beaumont Texas of the 1970's. In addition to being well written there is a good and sinister mystery to sink your teeth into. Go buy both books immediately. You won't be sorry.

  • Susanne

    I've decided I love Lisa Sandlin's writing! I loved "The Do-Right" in 2015, and waited impatiently for this sequel, the second Delpha Wade/Tom Phelan detective tale. I have not been disappointed. I love the terse, spare noir sensibility, and the vivid setting (1970's Beaumont Texas, just across the line from Louisiana). where Cajun and Texan attitudes intertwine. This is technically a mystery (all sleuthing done pre-internet, without so much as a cell phone to facilitate the research) but it's a

    I've decided I love Lisa Sandlin's writing! I loved "The Do-Right" in 2015, and waited impatiently for this sequel, the second Delpha Wade/Tom Phelan detective tale. I have not been disappointed. I love the terse, spare noir sensibility, and the vivid setting (1970's Beaumont Texas, just across the line from Louisiana). where Cajun and Texan attitudes intertwine. This is technically a mystery (all sleuthing done pre-internet, without so much as a cell phone to facilitate the research) but it's a series of character studies above all, and is told with such creativity that I suspect Sandlin could make a phone book sound interesting. Opening pages set a scene that takes place immediately after the end of the prior book: Delpha is once again being interrogated by police after she has killed a man, but THIS time she has a lawyer competent to defend her: a man who walked "like wherever he went, the street beneath his feel welcomed him," and who "emitted serene, tailored, carnivorous readiness." This time her lawyer will "throw the protections of the law over her like a coat and not a net."

    The mystery is satisfyingly complex, and the setting will make you grateful you didn't live then, while making clear how much society has changed in the interim. Neophyte Private Investigator Tom Phelan grows increasingly to realize that his ex-con receptionist Delpha has all the instincts of a true detective, and he is smart enough to welcome her help. I am astonished that these two books have not gotten more publicity: Sandlin is a writer to watch!

  • Lone Star Literary Life

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    Lone Star Book Blog Tours. Average Lone Star Blogger Team rating: 4.4 Stars.

  • Jenn Z at That's What She's Reading

    As a huge fan of the mystery genre, I was immediately drawn to the synopsis and the cover. Dark, creepy, and eerie looking, and following a near miss from a serial killer, I was excited to get started on this one. Unfortunately, there quickly seemed to be something that I wasn't connecting with, and I have to believe that it was the "noir" conventions that were just not for me. Nihilism and cynicism colored the

    As a huge fan of the mystery genre, I was immediately drawn to the synopsis and the cover. Dark, creepy, and eerie looking, and following a near miss from a serial killer, I was excited to get started on this one. Unfortunately, there quickly seemed to be something that I wasn't connecting with, and I have to believe that it was the "noir" conventions that were just not for me. Nihilism and cynicism colored the mood, and everyone seemed to be entangled in a web of doom and gloom of their own making. While Tom and Delpha try to do the best they can for their clients who are bent on self-destruction themselves, a cloud of fatalism cast its shadow and followed everyone around.

    Overall, the storytelling is striking, and I can acknowledge the definite appeal this series has to a wide audience; I just need a little more optimism in my reading. I can absolutely appreciate and understand what makes this series so special and an entertaining and enthralling read for many; however, for me, it was slightly too literary for my taste and attention span right now.

    Personal preference aside, this is a fantastically modern call back to the classic detective story. Set in 1970s Beaumont, the story is incredibly atmospheric and intensely descriptive, capturing the setting of this town in such a gripping way that in a sense it becomes its own character as well. Having grown up in a coastal refinery town myself, I could smell the oil burning and feel the heat and humidity resonating off the page. Every word matters, and the author uses language stylistically to not just captivate with her descriptions, but create strong dialogue and internal conversation. Yet, for me, the narrative became overwhelmed with too many words that implied more than it seemed to just come right out and say. I found myself getting lost and ultimately feeling detached towards a story that I initially assumed would work for me.

    Not surprisingly, the scenes revolving around case research and the library were phenomenal! Book lovers will definitely be transfixed by the author's ability to envelope readers in the complete essence of the bookish experience.

    The reading experience is deeply personal to each of us, and what may not work for me may be the exact right read for you. This original voice weaves together a compellingly gritty character study that remains steadfast to its thematically bleak truth. Definitely begin with the first book, THE DO-RIGHT, to fully embrace this edgy and wholly intelligent genre.

  • Kelly Well Read

    I was a big fan of the first book in this series, The Do-Right, so I was thrilled to get an opportunity to read and review the follow-up novel. It is not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy this one, but if you do, The Bird Boys begins right after the other one ends, with the main characters, Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan, dealing both physically and emotionally with the fall-out of a crime.

    Delpha Wade is a wonderfully well-drawn character, and her personality shines through in both

    I was a big fan of the first book in this series, The Do-Right, so I was thrilled to get an opportunity to read and review the follow-up novel. It is not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy this one, but if you do, The Bird Boys begins right after the other one ends, with the main characters, Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan, dealing both physically and emotionally with the fall-out of a crime.

    Delpha Wade is a wonderfully well-drawn character, and her personality shines through in both novels. She has been recently released from a long prison term after killing a man in self-defense who was assaulting her when she was 18 years old. But the prison experience has shaped the person she is today: strong, organized, determined; someone who doesn't suffer fools gladly.

    Tom Phelan is a Vietnam vet and is struggling to get his P.I. business off the ground. He feels a growing attachment to Delpha, but is very aware of how badly she has suffered in the past and is gentle with her, which I admired. The two cases the main characters investigate are interesting, and you really see the reality of what it must be like working as a private investigator.

    The novel's setting is in Beaumont, Texas in 1973, and the author has done an excellent job of characterizing this town, which is located not far from Houston. The era of the book is interesting to read about since there were no computers, cell phones, or other technology that we are used to seeing in contemporary mysteries. This means that the work done by a private investigator is a lot more complicated and slow. The author also was careful, and successful, in getting the historical references right, including, for example, the mentions of Watergate, Hurricane Celia, the use of a Selectric typewriter, the Bobby Riggs/Bill Jean King tennis exhibition, and the $1.60 cent minimum wage.

    The writing is something special. The author's sentence structure, which is short, and not always complete, really drives the narrative and gives a unique cadence to the reading experience, as in this paragraph toward the end of the book:

    "....he hoped the phone was still in working order. He got out and tried it. Dial tone, all right. Hung it up and leaned against the wall, waited. The breeze mild, pleasant. Clouds on the moon. The station's orange security lamp stained the leafy underside of the nearest tree an orangey-brown. Weird effect."

    For me, the pace really slowed down in the middle of the book as Tom and Delpha each investigate the two mysteries they are trying to solve. The description of the process of uncovering the clues says a lot about how tedious most P.I. work probably is, but this is not so great for a narrative that you want to keep moving. That being said, I never wanted to stop reading this noirish tale at any point, and was hungry to find out the solution to the mysteries.

    One of my favorite things about the book, hands-down, is that the author has dedicated her novel to "librarians everywhere," and she incorporates libraries and librarians into the novel in a very positive way. Overall, I enjoyed The Bird Boys and would recommend this series to those who like mysteries with intriguing characters, a slower pace, and an unusual setting of time and place.

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