The Do-Right

By: Lisa Sandlin

“The do-right,” that’s old Southern talk for prison. Delpha Wade doesn’t want to go back there. Fourteen years is enough.


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Categories: Adult | All Books | Fiction


"The do-right," that's old Southern talk for prison. Delpha Wade doesn't want to go back there. Fourteen years is enough.

1973. That's fourteen years of prison time after Delpha Wade killed a man who was raping her. She'd wanted to kill the other one too, but he got away. It's hard to find a decent job, but Delpha's persistence pays off. She lands a secretarial job with Tom Phelan, an ex-roughneck turned neophyte private eye. Delpha is smart, prison-wise, and together the two stumble 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.

Awards and Accomodations

Kirkus Reviews Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2015
Kirkus Reviews Best Debut Novel
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2015
Best First Private Eye Novel | Shamus Awards
The Hammett Prize

7 reviews for The Do-Right

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

  2. Kirkus Reviews
    “Sandlin blends pathos, humor, and poetic prose in a strong debut.”

  3. Book Riot
    “I’m especially excited about this one … rather than starring the dude who runs the detective agency, it’s actually more about his secretary, a woman who just got out of prison after serving fourteen years for killing one of the men who raped her.” —Leila Roy

  4. Killer Nashville
    “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. … Sandlin makes fantastic use of familiar, archetypal characters and brings new life into them by crafting narrative that, past the surface of an exciting detective story, seems to search for a sense of grace or forgiveness.” —Joseph Borden

  5. The Dallas Morning News
    “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.” —Shawna Seed

  6. The Beaumont Enterprise
    “The book is alive, its people are living, and the city is its own messy self.” —Dan Wallach

  7. Lone Star Literary Life
    “The Do-Right is a satisfying and entertaining contribution to classic noir.”—Michelle Newby

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