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The Bird Boys

(Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan Mystery Series #2)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  394 ratings  ·  78 reviews
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 detecti ...more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Cinco Puntos Press
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  394 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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L.A. Starks
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jenn Z at That's What She's Reading
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
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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 bl
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 yea
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 mud ...more
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 se
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Lone Star Literary Life
Featured on Lone Star Literary Life Lone Star Book Blog Tours. Average Lone Star Blogger Team rating: 4.4 Stars.
Kelly Well Read
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 nov
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
To start off - I really wish I had read the first book in this series, The Do-Right. I believe by reading that book, it would have been much easier (and quicker) to get into The Bird Boys. With that said, I still very much enjoyed Bird Boys and all it’s noir goodness.

There is a bit of a glimpse as to who Delpha and Tom are from The Do-Right, but the reader truly starts to understand who these two are once we are introduced to the fact that Delpha has done some time and Tom rushes to help keep h
Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-to-review, 2019
There is something about mysteries set in the 1970s where there is no technology, P.I.s seem somewhat seedy or shady, and the overall feel is so much different than what we experience today when it comes to mysteries.  Tom isn't really seedy or shady but the office is a piece of work.  No slick furniture just whatever can be pieced together so it feels like what you might expect for the time period.  Delpha is more than just his secretary, she is organized and delves into helping Tom on various ...more
Jun 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did the first one but I think Delpha remains an interesting character to read about.
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: michael-read
4.5 stars

This second series entry after The Do-Right doesn't disappoint.

This is a fresh voice and setting and two lead characters who make you care very much about what happens to them. Delpha Wade is not long out of prison, jailed for murdering a man who raped her, but really for being young, female and poor. The world is not ready to welcome her back except for Tom Phelan, who has just started a P.I. business in Beaumont, TX. The year is 1973. Tom is a Vietnam vet but we hear only bits and pi
Pamela Mingle
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure I'd like this quirky mystery. My daughter got it for me for Christmas. It's the second in a series about Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan, who together run Phelan Investigations. They're a very likable pair, and they both seem to be resisting an attraction to each other.

The principle case they're investigating is a bit slow, but towards the end really picks up speed and momentum. In between, they solve several other cases that are comical and/or have aspects of the ridiculous. Sandlin's
Wendy Harrison
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan return as richly drawn private detectives in 1970s Beaumont, Texas, in this terrific sequel to "The Do-Right." Lisa Sandlin picks up right where the earlier book left off, but adds sufficient back story to acclimate readers who are starting with "The Bird Boys." I do recommend reading the books in order, though, so as not to miss out on the details of the complex life that brought Delpha to Tom's office. It is hard to put this book down as Sandlin pulls the reader thro ...more
Charles F.  Brim
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Time flies with Bird Boys

Lisa Sandlin has discovered in her imagination and memory a mystery-solving couple with an deep East Texas vibe living in, of all places, tiny Beaumont Texas. I know this oil and lumber town where our 2 g-kids were born, not as well as the author, but enough to know she set the table and the location perfectly to allow her characters to be as real as the near-constant humidity there. Tom and Delpha are righteous, hopeful characters who serve others with their true words,
Sharon Sample
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The time is 1973. The place is Beaumont, Texas. The people are Delpha, who has just been released from a 14 year term in prison, and Tom, a Vietnam War veteran who has opened his own private detective agency. Tasked with finding a long lost brother for a strange client, Delpha and Tom use the tools available at the time -- land line phones, talking directly to people, the library help desk, and reams of paper records supplied by a county recorder -- to piece together the tale of the bird boys.

Allen Pasternak
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sandlin is a terrific writer, and it would be a mistake to miss her. The second novel in the series about a private investigator and his assistant, it’s debatable as to whether this should be categorized as a mystery. Investigations are conducted, the main one for a client looking for his brother. Little information is given the detective, and even that is unreliable. Other investigations are conducted while this one is ongoing. All the trappings of a mystery novel are here, but the main attract ...more
David Thomas
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
This story was better than the first book. I was much more interested in the characters and the storyline. This story focused more on the characters growing and coming alive than in the constant pointing out that it was set in the 1970's, though that was still being reinforced. Both books also had another heavy emphasis on location, in this case, Dallas, Texas.
I am up in the air as to whether I will read any more books about Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan if they come out in the future. They are qui
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Writers are advised to develop Voice. Lisa Sandlin’s writing has it in spades— her characters’ voices are distinctive, and her author voice is too. Pungent turns of phrase. No wasted words. Lyrical passages, suspense, mystery — it’s all there.
This is the second in a series, and I’m going to have to go back to read the first. The series features a new private investigator, Tom Phelan, and his ex-con, long-victimized assistant Delpha Wade, in Beaumont, Texas. Both are memorable characters. Deserve
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another fascinating second book in this new series, although several years after the first one was published. Other than some references that will situate it in the 1970's, eg technology & cars, much of it could be contemporary.

I hope there is another book in the works, as the characters grow & develop in their new situations, careers, & lives, with a touch of growing romantic & sexual tensions between them, acknowledged by neither.

I strongly recommend reading the first book (The Do-right) befo
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This, for me is very much a character-driven mystery. I enjoyed seeing how Tom Phelan, a new private eye in 1970s Beaumont , Texas, and Delpha Ward, his ex-con secretary/receptionist work to solve a couple of cases and grow into the lives they are creating. The cases were fine, but the characters and the language are what worked for me.

And the dedication: "Dedicated to librarians everywhere"

Favorite line: "His blue shirt usually looked like a chicken had ironed it."
Sep 23, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

This is a promising series with intriguing protagonists. It’s a 70s, Texan version of the cormoran and robin mysteries set in London. Here, Delpha is still acclimating to life outside of prison in how thinks and acts. She’s so deliberate and thoughtful and her progressive is so gratifying for read. She and Tom work well together, playing off their respective strengths and weaknesses. And the new firm is growing because of their partnership.
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Folks need to know that the border between Texas and Louisiana is very porous. North East Texas and North East Louisiana share the same culture. Same with South East Texas and South East Louisiana. The northern part of both states is home to the Bible Belt, while the south is Creole and Cajun -- a much more entertaining bunch than the northerners.
This book is set in Beaumont, Texas -- Cajun Country. And it is fun, fun, fun. A very witty romp that I highly recommend.
Rogue Reader
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-us-texas
Amazing writing - the characterization, sense of place, plotting and timing are extraordinary. The dialogue is so on the mark, I'm standing right there in east Texas feeling the gritty heat and humidity, smelling the sordid rot. Every sense is engaged, sitting forward, intent and intense just waiting for the words. Lisa Sandlin, we want more Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan please please please. And thank you for the fist two.
Linda Henry
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The two Delpha/Tom books are so very good and I cannot imagine why they are not more widely read. The characters are developed and believable, plots excellent and lots of mini plots along the way. But the highlight is the wonderful visual southern dialog with it plain-spoken wisdom and funny connections. "breathing steam masquerading as air" - perfect. Delpha having been in prison when life was a lot harder on women is handled well. It is well done and sobering but not depressing.
Shawna Seed
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Lisa Sandlin since her debut, The Do-Right. I had a chance to interview her about The Bird Boys. You can read our Q and A at

Alison Wallace Projansky
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this new series about a fledgling PI and his secretary, who is is just out of prison for murder. Of course, she killed her rapist in self defense, but it is the early 70's in Beaumont, Texas. Hey. The writing is brilliant, with vivid descriptions, and insightful dialogue. Can't wait for the next one.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't miss this Second in Series

This is second book in the Delpha Wade Tom Phelan detective series.
This book captures the times and feel of 1970s Beaumont, TX. Atmospheric and original plot. Writing is smoother than first book and that is saying a lot because the first in series was an award winner.
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