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A follow-up to one of 2015’s Best Books of Fiction and one of the year’s Best Mysteries and Thrillers 

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. 


“Ex-con Delpha Wade and her PI boss sizzle in The Bird Boys, Lisa Sandlin’s terrific follow-up to The Do-Right.  Subtle, sexy, tender, and smart, The Bird Boys lovingly recreates Beaumont, Texas in the 1970s:  the crooks, the cops, and regular folks just trying to get by.  Brimming with hard-boiled dialogue and poetic insights alike, The Bird Boys is a deeply humane and provocative book that builds relentlessly to its chilling conclusion.”

— Joy Castro, author of "Hell or High Water"

Marilyn Stasio for New York Times 

Listed one of The Best Crime Novels of the Year

International Hit 

Translated in German The Bird Boys is called Family Business and hit #3 on Krimibestenliste, the German critics' list. 

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.” 

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Kirkus Reviews named The Do-Right one of its Best Books of Fiction in 2015 — that's a list of 100 books — and hand-selected Lisa Sandlin's new novel as one of 18 Best Mysteries & Thrillers


The book won the  2016 Shamus Award for Best Debut Novel from the Private Eye Writers of America.


The Do-Right also won The 2015 Hammett Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers.


The Do-RIght, is available from Cinco Puntos Press


“He was very dead, Mr. Phelan,” Delpha Wade explains why she did fourteen years in prison for killing one of the men who raped her. She’s explaining because she needs a job. Tom Phelan, former roughneck and novice P.I., is hiring a secretary. A frightened mother knocks on the office door — and Delpha and Tom begin their association right in the middle of the interview.It’s 1973 in Beaumont, Texas, a Gulf Coast oil town. Phelan Investigations’ first two cases — a lost boy and a straying husband — get solved. But they just won’t stay solved, and eventually they play out in explosive force. Meanwhile, Delpha — on a weekend outing — looks into the eyes of her rapist, the one who got away.

The Do-Right Resonates With Residents 

Reviewed by The Beaumont Enterprise, Lisa Sandlin's gritty novel is celebrated for capturing the area’s dark beauty. “The places they go to are real.”

Full Article


Read More

• Kirkus Reviews’ Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2015

• Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015

Kirkus Reviews' Best Debut Novel



• Publishers Weekly Big Indie Books of Fall 2015

• Texas Monthly: 10 Writers To Watch And Read 

• Lone Star Literary Life: Lisa Sandlin On Writing And Publishing



“Lisa Sandlin blends pathos, humor, and poetic prose in a strong debut.” 

—Kirkus Review 

Full Starred Review


“Thomas Phelan and Delpha Wade are unforgettable characters as gritty as the ramshackle office they inhabit. But their grit has soul, and plenty of it.”

—Johnny TemplePublisher and Editor-in-Chief, Akashic Books


“Sandlin’s clipped prose style is pleasingly eccentric, and can become downright Chandleresque.”

—Publishers Weekly

Full Review 


"Smashingly original.”

—Toronto Star

Full Review 


"This book is flat out excellent. Peppered by some well placed funny moments yet with crimes that are nothing less than pure bad Sandlin nails the suspense and trajectory of a good crime novel with the palpitating atmosphere of things gone very wrong in seemingly an ordinary and average town. Her characters are really terrific, particularly Delpha just released from prison and trying to begin her life anew, and her ear for snappy or dry dialogue when appropriate is so wonderful one is engaged for the first page to the last. I heartily recommend this novel. It’s a keeper!"

—Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield’s


"Don’t take the critic’s word for it. Check out The Do-Right, and see if you don’t find yourself reading passages aloud just for the sheer pleasure of it."

—Shawn Seed, Dallas Morning News

Full Review


"Seeking Justice in 1973 Texas: Publishers Weekly Talks with Lisa Sandlin"

Full Article


"Professor Lisa Sandlin Wins Hammett Prize"

Read The University of Nebraska Omaha's reaction 

Short Story Collection 

Texas enters the Akashic Noir Series arena with a dazzling array of terrifying, well-crafted short fiction. "Phelan’s First Case," a Beaumont-based contribution by Lisa Sandlin, is featured in Lone Star Noir and USA Noir.


“All the heavy hitters…came out for USA Noir…an important anthology of stories shrewdly culled by Johnny Temple.”

—New York Times Review of Books, Editor’s Choice


“So I'd start with Beaumont, with this Sandlin thing. Paydirt. Sandlin's tale of a young PI and his ex-con insinuation of a secretary was engaging as hell. The writing was brisk, the genre style familiar enough – not quite subversive, nowhere near trite. The plot was jake, too, but it was only a hanger for characters — the private dick Phelan and his canny amanuensis Delpha Wade — that you wanted to spend entire novels getting to know. Over too soon, the story, goddammit — as if it were too good to last.”

—Wayne Alan Brenner, The Austin Chronicle Full Review


Phelan's First Case Also Appears in Lone Star Noir

“Think of the book as a sort of criminal travelogue." 

—David Pitt

Short Story Collection

Message to the Nurse of Dreams is about growing up in the late 60s in a Texas oil town soaked by Gulf winds, where every kid was one generation removed from the country — a time when black and white got mixed together, half-grown, half children, trying to decide if they were as different as they’d been led to believe all their lives.


“The prose is not only beautiful, but there’s not a dishonest sentence anywhere to be found. I admire this writer tremendously.”  

—Antonya Nelson, author of Funny Once"


Lisa Sandlin displays a deep, instinctive understanding of the ways in which generally close-knit families compulsively bicker and splinter — and the ways in which a teenage girl can, unexpectedly, be as concerned about her moral nature as she is about her complexion."  

—Bruce Allen, The New York Times Full Review

Short Story Collection

In The River Province

It’s the Good Friday pilgrimage to Chimayó. Take a donut, a slice of orange, a cup of hot coffee from the people along the way who’ve set up trays and coolers to feed you. If it snows, hunch your shoulders, tuck your face, and keep walking. Your mind may be busy — or clean, as though you had no home to go back to. For this one day, the road is all the home that is necessary. For this one day, you do not make the mistake of feeling alone. So many people, so many stories are walking beside you.


“A brilliant performance … an evocation of a people and a place that becomes the revelation of  every people in every place.” 

—N. Scott Momaday, author of House Made of Dawn


"A prose poem to New Mexico that will endure to become a classic."

—John Nichols, author of The Milagro Beanfield War    


"Ms. Sandlin brings life's wonders and sorrows right up close, treating them with a rare and wrenching tenderness."

—Paula Friedman, Dallas Morning News


You Who Make the Sky Bend: Saints as Archetypes of the Human Condition is a book of retablo paintings by Catherine Ferguson, accompanied by biographies Lisa Sandlin compiled from ancient and contemporary sources and poetry.

"For every saint, the book features a juxtaposition of Sandlin's words with Ferguson's image. Their tale of Brigid of Ireland, who is associated with birth, light, and poetry, is that of a girl who, Sandlin writes, 'walks in the goddess's footsteps. She calls words to poets and grants sure-handedness to the crafters of things, acts as balm to the sick and dying, makes the land bear and flower.' In Ferguson's interpretation of Brigid, the goddess-girl skips through a snowy, sun-drenched landscape, braids flying, wolves running alongside her."

—Carmella Padilla, The New Mexican

Short Story Collection

A palm reader startles a girl with, “You’ve never been old”; a demented father writes letters to Black Jack Pershing; two Indian boys soldier in WWI; a child speaks to fish; an elderly ballerina escapes a rest home with the aid of an albino rock n’roll star—these characters are hell-bent on the business of life.


“These are wonderful stories — passionate, fierce, reckless, and scrupulously written. Lisa Sandlin has a true heart and an unsparing eye.”

—Rick DeMarinis, author of The Art and Craft of the Short Story


“Thick with a variety of voices and personalities, this promising debut short-fiction collection marks Lisa Sandlin as a writer to watch.”

—Publishers Weekly 

Poetry, Fiction & Memoirs

Times of Sorrow, Times of Grace

A collection of poetry, fiction and memoir by women writers from the Great Plains/High Plains region of the United States. Here, Lisa Sandlin co-edits an anthology including noted writers Jonis Agee, Marilyn Krysl, Judith Minty, Mary Pipher, Hilda Raz, CarolAnn Russel, Judith Sornberger, Laurel Speer, Gladys Swan and SL Wisenberg.


"From the visually stunning cover to the black and white wildflower drawings and eye-pleasing font, this anthology is a keeper. It is a map of secret journeys to be shared, read and reread."

—Midwest Book Review

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