LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin (Mystery/Noir)

A Delpha Wade andTom 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.”

I received a copy of this book for free. This is my honest and thoughtful review.
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. 

“Soon as the office was cleared for business, Phelan trashed the yellow crime tape and hired industrial cleaning guys to blast the blood from the wood floor, patch up the stain. He’d paid them extra to work on the weekend. Still smelled funky though. Bleachy – and underneath, a whiff of something live, gone over. He pushed up the windows and let Beaumont’s August heat K.O. his stuttering AC unit.”

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. 

“The library drew her, and not just for the books – the building, rough limestone blocks, a towered and turreted castle fit for a river king. Close behind the castle ran the slow brown Neches.”

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.

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)

a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and Lisa Sandlin! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!


Author Interview
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