Purgatory Chasm (Conway Sax Series #1)

Purgatory Chasm (Conway Sax Series #1)

by Steve Ulfelder
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Purgatory Chasm (Conway Sax Series #1) by Steve Ulfelder

*Nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel

*Winner of the Reviewer's Choice Award from RT BookReviews for Best First Mystery of 2011

"Tander Phigg was a real jerk, but he was also a Barnburner. Barnburners saved my life. I help them when I can. No exceptions."

"A refreshing new character solving hardcore crimes…. crisp plotting, hard-boiled style and realistic dialogue." —Associated Press

"Combines elements of the thriller with tales of tangled families. Violence runs through the novel, but Ulfelder tempers it with compassion — and evocative prose. Purgatory Chasm may be hardboiled, but it's heart-wrenching, too." –Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Working throughout is the edgy, self-effacing voice of a flawed main character, a good guy with plenty of baggage who's just trying stay alive and to get it right this time." –The Boston Globe

The job seems simple. Conway Sax, a no-nonsense auto mechanic with a knack for solving difficult problems, has never liked Tander Phigg. But Tander's a Barnburner, a member of the unique AA group that rescued Conway, and when a Barnburner has a problem, Conway takes care of it. Besides, all Tander wants is to get back his vintage Mercedes from a shady auto shop. But Conway soon discovers there's much more to the problem–especially when Tander turns up dead. Conway was the last person seen with the victim, and on top of that, he has a record. He must catch the killer to clear himself, but he's also a man who honors his promises, even when the guy he made them to is dead. In the tradition of Robert B. Parker and Dennis Lehane, Steve Ulfelder's crackling debut mystery features a gritty, razor-sharp new voice in crime fiction that will stay with you long after the last page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250007025
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 04/24/2012
Series: Conway Sax Series , #1
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,287,228
Product dimensions: 5.56(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

Steve Ulfelder is an amateur race driver and co-owner of Flatout Motorsports, a company that builds race cars in Bellingham, MA. He was a business and technology journalist for 20 years. Purgatory Chasm is his first novel.

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Purgatory Chasm 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Framingham, Massachusetts auto mechanic Conway Sax detests insufferable Tander Phigg, but the man belongs to the Alcoholics Anonymous Barnburner group. The Barnburners saved his life by sobering him up so Conway vowed to repay them whenever he can. Thus when the pig Phigg asks Conway to retrieve his 1980 Mercedes from New Hampshire Das Motorenwerk garage that has possessed his vintage auto for eighteen months, Sax reluctantly agrees. However, the seemingly simple request turns convoluted when someone at the garage knocks him out and later he learns someone killed Tander. The police suspect Sax of the murder as he is an ex con who has been fingered for being the last person seen with the deceased. Conway has two missions to resolve: first prove his innocence and second get the vehicle. Loaded with twists and spins, Purgatory Chasm is an exciting action-packed amateur sleuth mystery starring a fascinating flawed individual. Conway makes the tale work as a person in trouble who investigates the murder while also planning to repo the car. His past is nicely interwoven into the strong plot so that readers understand why he feels obligated to the Barnburner group. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not the typical book I read, however I did enjoy it. Its a different paced murder mystery lite. The main character is atypical and refreshing and this kept me reading it at a nightly pace. The book had no real highs but no real lows either.
KaneH More than 1 year ago
I'll tell you one thing- I don't want to hang around the protagonist of this book. Lots of bad mojo for the people he cares about. But he goes through problems like a tank, crushing everything in his path. We've got a very flawed man with a bad past who's trying to be a better person. It's a constant, uphill struggle, and we're absorbed in the effort. The dialog rings true, and the characters are real. Some are terrible people, mean, and self-destructive, but that makes for a great story of interest. You'll enjoy the book and appreciate how much better your life is than Conway's. Even when treading the familar ground of the alcoholic who's in AA, the author keeps it fresh and interesting. He's got stiff competition for this turf- James Lee Burke, Lawrence Block, and many others, but he holds his own with them. A tale well told. Will definitely seek out more by this author.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The protagonist is an ex con, reformed alcoholic, not-exactly-reformed thug, doing favors for a bunch of other thugs and losers associated with a branch of AA. Not a terribly appealing premise or "hero." The plot is also neither original nor plausible. Why doesn't this genius give the cops pertinent info? Why does he pursue inquiries after the instigator, who he didn't like, dies? No good reason. Guy's a mechanic, not a sleuth, as he demonstrates repeatedly. This is not his fight, and with no good reason for his behavior, the story is pointless. Not that this is unusual in fiction featuring amateur detectives, but with each additional nosy parker like that I read about, I become increasingly unwilling to suspend my disbelief in the character's actions. Bottom line, book is implausible and the characters unlikeable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beenthere-heardthat More than 1 year ago
An interesting read with some very nice character development but somewhat flawed by an overly complex plot that stretches the realms of probability a litle too far at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TamiCPhT More than 1 year ago
Thriller does not begin to describe this break a neck pace of this whodunit story. The author had me belted in from the first word and kept me stuck in the seat until the shocking end of the ride. Mr. Ulfelder is poised to become one the hottest new mystery writers this year. Thank you to Early Readers for bring this awesome author to my attention!