Thursday, August 22, 2019

Excerpt & Giveaway: THE BIRD BOYS by Lisa Sandlin

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."

Excerpt: Chapter Six of The Bird Boys
By Lisa Sandlin

HOW’D SHE KNOW how to talk like that? Zulma Barker. Zulma was serving the last weeks of a forty-one month stretch—she’d driven getaway for a toy boyfriend who’d robbed a pharmacy at gunpoint. Maybe because the young man, a would-be model, scurried out with a gym bag of dexedrine, the judge didn’t buy Zulma’s story, that she’d just been idling in her own car while her lover filled a weight-loss prescription for his mother. The prosecution also noted, in her act of aiding and abetting, the use of an alias as a cover up.
Previous to her bad-decision day, Zulma Barker’d been the popular and respectable receptionist for the Beatrice Adcock Agency in Dallas. She got the job once she agreed to use the pseudonym Cynthia, Beatrice nixing “Zulma” as glamorless. The Agency handled a lot of high-strung people. Zulma learned to supply blandishments to pretty and not-pretty-enough girls panting to be models and to fend off their bitchy mothers. She developed the tone and patter to charm pricey designers and the proper worshipful timbre for photographers. This skill had never been any ambition of Zulma’s. She’d just discovered that her day went easier if she turned her voice into Karo syrup. In time, she discovered a disconcerting side-effect: the secret of feeling like she sounded.
Delpha was working a stint in the kitchen then, winter, around the time President Eisenhower left and John Kennedy moved in. Sometimes she had a cut or a burn to nurse, not to mention the blaze in her heart and belly. She lay on the top bunk after the count and lights-out, tolerating Zulma’s farewell tutorial, which, more or less, went like this: You start with a base of welcome. Use their name if they give it to you, but not a lot because that’s phony. They want to explain, you listen. Listen, listen, listen. Agree, like mmm, uh-huhm, I’ll be. Save your breath, don’t over-talk. Apologize when you’re turning them down. Remember, they’re feeling sorry for themselves—so have your sympathy ready to spool out like scotch tape.
“This is phone work,” Zulma said. “But in person, you got all kinds of advantage, hear?”
Delpha said nothing. Zulma knew she was hearing her.
“You got eye contact, however you want to use it. You can touch ‘em. Their hand. Their elbow, you know, nothing too friendly. You be careful about that.”
Zulma had been. Until the would-be model. Profile like James Dean, only his nose was chunkier. But his ears were better. James Dean’d had ears like an elf. “Hey, wanna hear her?”
“Hear who?”
“Thought I was hearing her.”
 “Not full force.”
Delpha hung her head down over the bunk. She held on, her light-brown hair swinging upside down, while Zulma sat up crosslegged, said pleasantly, “Good evening, Beatrice Adcock Agency. ”  She said “Well, hello, Delpha” as to a friend, went on from there with a whole make-believe conversation: complimenting Delpha’s photos but putting her off until the right shoot came up, saying Delpha didn’t have to do a thing, they’d call her. It was all polite. But Zulma’s contralto carried a startling current of connection, like maybe the girl-caller on the phone had a sister somewhere she didn’t know about, and this was her. Smiling, making eye contact, Zulma reached toward the upper bunk. She squeezed Delpha’s fingers, briefly, gently, leaving Delpha with the sensation she’d been promised something nice. A goose pimple or two tingled her arms.
Zulma hadn’t looked like her usual, pinched, forty-six-year-old self. Must have been Cynthia’s smile that had, for a moment, lit up the bottom bunk like a lost moonbeam.
It was three or four years before Delpha really understood why Zulma-Cynthia’s method worked. Wasn’t the pitch of her voice. It was the need of the person she was talking to.

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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