1959. Delpha Wade killed a man who was raping her. Wanted to kill the other one too, but he got away. Now, after fourteen years in prison, she s out. It s 1973, and nobody s rushing to hire a parolee.Read more...
1959. Delpha Wade killed a man who was raping her. Wanted to kill the other one too, but he got away. Now, after fourteen years in prison, she s out. It s 1973, and nobody s rushing to hire a parolee. Persistence and smarts land her a secretarial job with Tom Phelan, an ex-roughneck turned neophyte private eye. Together these two pry into the dark corners of Beaumont, a blue-collar, Cajun-influenced town dominated by Big Oil. A mysterious client plots mayhem against a small petrochemical company-why? Searching for a teenage boy, Phelan uncovers the weird lair of a serial killer. And Delpha on a weekend outing looks into the eyes of her rapist, the one who got away. The novel's conclusion is classic noir, full of surprise, excitement, and karmic justice. Sandlin's elegant prose, twisting through the dark thickets of human passion, allows Delpha to open her heart again to friendship, compassion, and sexuality.
Lisa Sandlin's story "Phelan's First Case" was anthologized in Lone Star Noir and was later re-anthologized in Akashic's Best of the Noir series, USA Noir. The Do-Right is her first full-length mystery. Lisa was born in Beaumont, currently lives and teaches in Omaha, Nebraska, and summers in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-08-03
- Reviewer: Staff
In 1973, Delpha Wade, the heroine of Sandlin’s impressive debut, is released from Texas’s Gatesville Women’s Prison (aka the Do-Right) after serving 14 years for killing a man who was raping her. Needing a job pronto, Delpha becomes secretary to fledgling private eye Tom Phelan, a former oil rigger and Vietnam vet who has just opened a detective agency in Beaumont, Tex. Phelan Investigations attracts a motley lot of cases, including one boasting a scenario worthy of the Coen brothers: a man retains Phelan because his prosthetic leg is being held hostage by his brother and sister. The romance, both torrid and touching, between Delpha and a 20-year-old college kid named Isaac adds emotional depth. Sandlin’s clipped prose style is pleasingly eccentric, and can become downright Chandleresque (“The nose had a curve a school bus’d run off of”). And while the narrative veers over the yellow lines several times, the novel wraps up with an exciting sequence that neatly knits together multiple story lines. (Oct.)