The Do-Right – Excerpt

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Lisa Sandlin 

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Date of Publication: October 27, 2015

# of pages: 306

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The Do Right Cover

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 The Do-Right is something akin to a rusted nail through the foot: it’s dirty, it hurts, and it’ll have you jumping up and down—or possibly just on the floor. Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan are as lovable a duo as any in noir fiction.” — Joseph Borden, Killer Nashville

“When a critic praises a writer’s original voice, what does that really mean? In the case

of Texas native Lisa Sandlin, it means dog-earing page after page in her novel The

Do-Right, to reread particularly terrific passages or, even better, share them aloud . . .

Check out The Do-Right, and see if you don’t find yourself reading passages aloud

just for the sheer pleasure of it.” – Shawna Seed, The Dallas Morning News


“Smashingly original.” — Jack Batten, Toronto Star




8:32. Footsteps were sounding on the stairs to his second-story walkup.

Wasn’t skipping up here, was she? Measured tread. The knock on the door lately lettered Phelan Investigations wasn’t fast, wasn’t slow. Not loud, not soft.

Phelan walked out of his office, through the secretary- to-be’s office, and opened up. Well. Not a girl. A couple crows had stepped lightly at the corners of her eyes. A faint crease of bitter slanted from the left side of her barely tinted lips. Ash brown hair, jaw-length, roomy white blouse, navy skirt. Olive-tinted skin overlaid with a jailhouse tan. Eyes gray-blue, a little clouded, distant, like a storm rolling in from the Gulf. This one wouldn’t sit behind the desk blowing on her polish. The hand he was shaking had naked nails cut to the quick.

“Tom Phelan.” “Delpha Wade.” Her voice was low and dry.

Delpha Wade. His brain racheted a picture toward him but not far enough, like when the Payday gets hung up partway out the vending machine.

They sat down in his office, him in a gimpy swivel behind a large metal desk, both included in the rent. Her in one of the proud new clients’ chairs, padded leather with regally tall backs.

“Have to be honest with you, Miss Wade. Think I already found a secretary.”

No disappointment in those blue eyes, no hope either. She just passed a certificate with a gold seal across the desk.

The paper said she typed seventy words a minute, spoke shorthand, could do double entry. The brunette with the Dusty Springfield voice claimed all that too, but she’d backed it up with a giggle, not a diploma from Gatesville.

“Your first choice of a job a P.I.’s office?” “My first choice is a job.”

Touché. “What number interview would this be for you?” “Number one.”
“I’m flattered. Get off the bus, you come here.”

The blue eyes let in a smidgen of light. “That doesn’t count the eleven places I applied ’fore they showed me the door. And one other that didn’t have what you could call a interview.”

No wonder Joe was pushing her. “Had your druthers, where’d you work, Miss Wade?”

“Library. I like libraries. It’s what I did there.”
There being Gatesville Women’s Prison.

Now that she’d brought it up. “How many you do?” “Fourteen.”

Phelan quelled the whistle welling up. That let out check kiting, forgery, embezzling from the till, and dope. He was about to ask her the delicate when she handed it to him on a foil tray. “Voluntary manslaughter.”

“And you did fourteen?”

“He was very dead, Mr. Phelan.”


Sandlin Pic

Lisa Sandlin’s story “Phelan’s First Case” was anthologized in Lone Star Noir (Akashic) and was later re-anthologized in Akashic’s Best of the Noir compendium, USA Noir. The Do-Right, which uses the characters from that story, is her first full-length mystery. Lisa was born in Beaumont, Texas, currently lives and teaches in Omaha, Nebraska, and summers in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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  June 6 – June 15, 2016

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Check out the other great blogs on the tour! 

6/6       All for the Love of the Word      — Review

6/7       Country Girl Bookaholic           — Author Interview #1

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6/9       My Book Fix Blog           — Review

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6/12     Texas Book Lover         — Author Interview #2

6/13     Margie’s Must Reads    — Review

6/14     The Crazy Booksellers  — Promo

6/15     Book Chase      — Review


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