What does it take to transform an average Joe into a bad ass dick (sleuth, that is)? Pure grit and hard core determination. Just ask critically acclaimed, Edgar-nominated author Steve Ulfelder, whose gutsy yet affable hero, Conway Sax is back, with a vengeance.
Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage: A Conway Sax Mystery
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Number of Pages: 320 print pages
“Conway Sax is a man on a mission—this time in Los Angeles, where he uses his race-driving experience in a desperate bid to rescue Kenny Spoon, a washed-up TV star who’s been kidnapped. It’s a favor for Kenny’s mother Eudora, Conway’s dear friend and a fellow member of the Barnburners, his tight-knit maverick AA group.
After hauling Kenny back to Massachusetts, Conway finds himself caught between Eudora and her two sons: Kenny, and Harmon, a cop who resents his talented, troubled half-brother. Each member of the Spoon family distrusts and even despises the others, it seems… and each has a past full of dark secrets that may explain why.
While Conway tries to learn why Kenny was kidnapped and protect him from further harm, a shocking murder devastates this complex, all-too-human family. Conway vows to find the killer and avenge the death, but each clue only points to more suspects.
Things get even more complicated when Conway, separated from his girlfriend Charlene, begins a passionate affair that can’t help but cloud his judgment. The more secrets he uncovers, the more danger he’s in as this masterfully written page-turner builds to a wrenching confrontation.” –Official Website of Steve Ulfelder
You’ll love this guy. The protagonist, Conway Sax, relies on his keen instincts, a healthy man card, and a zealous reliance on his own baggage to get him to the bottom of the mysteries that encroach on his life as a car mechanic. His lovable soft side, his resiliency in the face of whatever bad guys throw at him, and his enduring loyalty to his friends and his comrades in dependency (“Barnburners”) make him a true hero in my mind.
Ulfelder’s writing style is steady and approachable, reeling in the reader from the first page. His use of first-person perspective is vulnerable, acute, and engaging. Ulfelder taps into Sax’s recovery from dependency with affecting honesty and humor. He unfolds the mystery with gradual pace that feels real and justified.
Ulfelder also plunges a dip stick into some car racing jargon that’s smooth and slick. You’ll find yourself adding “bootlegger turn,” “tank slapper,” and “bump drafting” to your everyday vernacular. His secondary characters are spot on, full of enough vitality that you’d think they were idling in a Crown Vic outside your front window. The authentic journey through the winding roads of Central MA will have you dropping your Rs. The dialogue, as well as Sax’s inner monologue, is sincere, fresh, funny, and noteworthy (“Two times a year, I wish I had a gun.”)
If you’re a fan of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer novels, this Steve Ulfelder mystery is for you. It is fresh, raw pulp fiction that’s refined into a sweet and coarse concoction, and it’s sure to please.
My rating: 5 out of 5 FAVA beans.
Steve Ulfelder is the author of three mystery novels featuring unlikely hero Conway Sax: SHOTGUN LULLABY, THE WHOLE LIE, and PURGATORY CHASM. Steve left journalism to write novels and focus on Flatout Motorsports, a company he co-founded that builds, rents, sells and services race cars. Steve’s debut novel, PURGATORY CHASM, published by Minotaur Books in 2011, was nominated for the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the Best First Novel category, and was named Best First Mystery by RT Book Reviews. Steve is a proud member of Mystery Writers of America (serving as president of MWA’s New England chapter), Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. He holds a BA in Creative Writing from Ohio Wesleyan University, and lives with his family in Worcester County, Massachusetts. Learn more about Steve Ulfelder’s books at www.ulfelder.com.