Why did you decide to start the story
I wanted to use the ’70s. There was
never any question of my being able to
write credible techie sabotage à la
Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, but I could
make Delpha handle a Selectric and a
10-key. Once I decided on 1973,
events just jumped into the book:
with its dramatic lies
and endless speculation.
I also included references to Vietnam and Hank
Aaron’s run-up to Babe
Ruth’s home run record.
What do you most fondly recall of Beaumont,
where you grew up?
And what is your least
pleasant memory of it?
Fondly: going to the
beach, about 60 miles
away, bobbing in the
waves in an inner tube, dodging the
jellyfish, riding on the Galveston ferry. I gave Delpha and Isaac, the college kid with whom she becomes involved, a sweet interlude so they could
enjoy a day there as much as I used to.
My least favorite memory might be
Driver’s Ed in August in a Rambler
What kind of research did you do
regarding Gatesville, aka the
I didn’t read much about Gatesville
specifically—just its layout, units,
numbers, the unsurprising fact that
isolation causes the greatest hardship.
Personal predilection told me that being around so many people all the
time would likewise be awful. My
grandparents lived in Gatesville for
some years, and I spent time there in
the summer—hot as a firecracker,
chiggers, horned toads.
The cases that turn up for Tom and
Delpha range from serious conspiracies
to absurdist scenarios.
Was it always your intention to include a
humorous element in
I didn’t plan to include
humor; my head just
works that way. What I
did plan was that, since
Phelan was brand-new
as a private eye, he
would get small jobs
from individual clients
rather than from large
seemed logical. The little jobs lend
themselves to more peculiarity.
In one of the many subplots, Delpha
cares for 100-year-old Jesse Spier.
Did you draw from real life for this
I had a grandmother who lived to
101, so I’ve seen that age up close, and
I worked hospice for three years.
The steamy romance between Delpha
and Isaac is yet another of your unconventional elements. Those sex scenes
are quite persuasive. Why do you
think it is that so many crime fiction
authors fail in this area?
Not a clue. —M;;;;;; B;;;;;
PW T;;;; ;;;; L;;; S;;;;;;
Seeking Justice in 1973 Texas
In Sandlin’s first novel, The Do-Right (Reviews, Aug. 3; pub month,
Oct.), Delpha Wade, newly released from Gatesville Women’s Prison
after serving 14 years for manslaughter, goes to work for Tom Phelan,
who has just opened a detective agency in Beaumont, Tex.
PROUDLY PUBLISHED BY
Bestselling storyteller Morton (The
Secret Keeper) excels in this mystery
set against the gothic backdrop of 1930s
England. In Cornwall, the wealthy Edevane
family prepares for its annual midsummer
ball at Loenneth, their isolated estate.
That night, teenager Alice Edevane is
lingering near the nursery when someone
kidnaps the cherished Edevane son, Theo;
despite a lengthy investigation, he is never
found. The story moves forward to 2003
London, where Det. Sgt. Sadie Sparrow
is suspended after speaking to the media
about a missing-person case, recently
closed, that haunts her. Sparrow seeks
refuge with her grandfather in Cornwall.
On her first morning run there, she finds
the now-dilapidated Loenneth mansion
deep in the woods. Curious, Sparrow peers
through the windows into tumbledown
rooms abandoned in haste long ago. She
begins to investigate the 70-year-old
Edevane case with help from the Cornwall
locals, including a retired copper who was
there in 1933 when Theo disappeared.
Sparrow locates the now-elderly Alice, a
celebrated mystery writer in London, who
hands over the keys to the estate so Theo’s
case can be reopened. The compelling
story moves back and forth in time as
Sparrow uncovers what happened to Theo
in 1933 while also resolving the recent
missing-person case. Morton’s plotting
is impeccable, and her finely wrought
characters, brought together in the
end by Sparrow’s investigation, are
as surprised as readers will be by the
astonishing conclusion. (Oct.)
- Publishers Weekly
July 24, 2015
Kate Morton. Atria, $28 (512p)
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