The Whole Lie

A Conway Sax Mystery (Volume 2)

Steve Ulfelder

Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books

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Praise for The Whole Lie

 

“The Massachusetts gubernatorial race forms the backdrop for Ulfelder’s excellent sequel to his Edgar-finalist debut, Purgatory Chasm… Readers will want to see more of Ulfelder’s tough but vulnerable lead, whose narration offers a warts-and-all view of his multifaceted character.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

 

Savvy hadn’t changed.  She was smarter than you and didn’t mind letting you know it.  She’d whip you up and down trying to get her way.  But we weren’t lovers any more—and she’d stopped being a Barnburner long ago.  Still…

 

Conway Sax, the no-nonsense auto mechanic with a knack for solving difficult problems for the Barnburners, the renegade AA group who saved his life, is back in The Whole Lie.  And for once, he thinks normalcy is within reach. He’s opening a new garage, and he’s finally moved in with longtime girlfriend Charlene.  The end of his parole is finally in sight. Then along comes Savannah Kane: smart, smoky, and a pusher of men’s buttons. Seven years ago, Conway helped her disappear—but not before they had a sizzling, knock-down-drag-out affair. Now she’s back with a shocking revelation: she’s the mother of a six-year-old boy. Savvy claims her son’s father is billionaire Bert Saginaw, but Conway (not to mention Charlene) knows she’s back for more than just a family reunion. 

Saginaw wants to be Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. Savvy wants to get paid. Conway wants nothing to do with either of them. But when Savvy turns up brutally murdered, he’s got no choice but to sort lies from truth – even though doing so may cost him his freedom, his lover, and his life in this thrilling and heart-wrenching follow-up to critically acclaimed novel Purgatory Chasm, in the tradition of Robert B. Parker and Dennis Lehane.

 

Praise for Steve Ulfelder and Purgatory Chasm

 

“Ulfelder smoothly steers his plot from one hairpin twist to the next… Conway [is] both tough and vulnerable, a man who has made too many mistakes in his life and, unfortunately, will make even more. Purgatory Chasm is a superb beginning for an author who shows much promise.” –South Florida Sun-Sentinel

 

 “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

 

“Ulfelder couples precise, evocative prose with an original private investigator in his compelling hard-boiled debut…. Ulfelder smoothly navigates the many plot twists, and effortlessly introduces wrinkles in his protagonist's backstory that enhance the character.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

 

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Book Excerpts

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CHAPTER ONE
 
 
When Savvy Kane walked into my shop, I was wrestling the rotted muffler from a Maxima.
It’s not a pretty job. Rust flakes, road crud, frozen bolts. Cursing is involved.
As I gave a final twist, the customer door swung open.
I looked.
I looked again.
My jaw dropped.
The muffler dropped.
It weighed thirty pounds, and every one of them landed on my right boot.
Her name was Savannah, but when I’d met her in a biker bar on the south side of Owensboro, Kentucky, all the Harley boys had called her Savvy.

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Reviews

Praise for The Whole Lie

Praise for The Whole Lie

“Ulfelder, a former business and technology journalist turned novelist and race-team owner, infuses his work with grit leavened by grace, and The Whole Lie not only fulfills the promise of its predecessor, Purgatory Chasm, but also surpasses it.  Not for the faint of heart, but a novel that should appeal to political junkies and motorheads alike, The Whole Lie is, in all its disturbing beauty, a work of hardcore crime-fiction art.” –Richmond Times-Dispatch

“The Massachusetts gubernatorial race forms the backdrop for Ulfelder’s excellent sequel to his Edgar-finalist debut, Purgatory Chasm… Readers will want to see more of Ulfelder’s tough but vulnerable lead, whose narration offers a warts-and-all view of his multifaceted character.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Mechanic, occasional vigilante and recovering alcoholic Conway Sax is one of the more compelling characters in recent American crime fiction, which is entirely due to Steve Ulfelder's exceptional talent for plotting, characterization and dialogue. The Whole Lie digs deeper into Conway's past and present relationships, as well as providing a twisty mystery with a believable resolution. Corruption, blackmail, past lovers and more collide in this series second from the talented new author.” –RT BOOK Reviews

“The strength of The Whole Lie is in the larger than life characters of Conway Sax, Savvy Kane, and baby-daddy Bert Saginaw. In signature Ulfelder style, everyone is a suspect, everyone has an angle, and everyone is lying. Throw in some campaign secrets, blackmail photos, and the fact that every time Sax thinks he has the killer, that person ends up dead, and you have a thrilling tale that moves at NASCAR speed.” –The Bourbon County Review (Kansas)

“Steve Ulfelder has the ability to suggest lots of information in short dialogue and description, creating a rich field of other interesting characters…. The plot is driven by murder, blackmail, loyalty and betrayal, along with many people with many reasons who could be villains. The book is fast-paced, and the reader is happily pulled along.” –San Diego Union-Tribune

“Ulfelder has created a fresh, compelling lead in Conway Sax, a character precariously straddling the line between invincible tough guy and vulnerable emotional wreck. The conflicts Conway struggles with, both internally and externally, are as real and raw as it gets, and Ulfelder’s portrayal of a man torn between his loyalty to the past and hope for the future is nothing short of masterful. It’s the guaranteed truth that you will be taken in by The Whole Lie.” –St. Augustine Record

“What sets [Ulfelder’s] books apart is the fantastic and fascinating cast of characters he weaves in his stories. The most compelling character in both books is Ulfelder's protagonist, Conway Sax, who has a tough exterior but also is so mulit-sided in his personality that one never knows what to expect…. [The Whole Lie] is a fantastic read where there are plenty of plot twists, political corruption, blackmail, lying at every turn that Beacon Hill followers will eat up.” –Leicester Daily Voice

“I thought crime fiction couldn't get much better than Purgatory Chasm by Steve Ulfelder. Steve proves me wrong with his follow up The Whole Lie… The writing is exceptionally hardboiled, the characters vivid and interesting, the plot dark and exciting. One of the best PI novels of the year so far.” –SonsofSpade.blogspot.com

“Fast-paced and hard-hitting, Ulfelder knows this territory well, pushing the limits and pulling back just in time.” –Curledup.com

"Full of fascinating characters...  If you have to read The Whole Lie in multiple sittings, you'll likely struggle to put it down and rush to get back to it as quickly as you can. Add Ulfelder to my must-read list. I'm looking forward to hanging out with Conway Sax and friends again." --JensBookThoughts.com

“Ulfelder has created a fresh, compelling lead in Conway Sax, a character precariously straddling the line between invincible tough guy and vulnerable emotional wreck. The conflicts Conway struggles with, both internally and externally, are as real and raw as it gets, and Ulfelder’s portrayal of a man torn between his loyalty to the past and hope for the future is nothing short of masterful. It’s the guaranteed truth that you will be taken in by The Whole Lie.” –elizabethawhite.com

Praise for Purgatory Chasm

*** Nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery 2012 ***
***Winner of the Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT BookReviews for Best First Mystery of 2011
***

“Conway Sax is a has-been racing driver, an ace auto mechanic, a recovering alcoholic and a refreshing new character solving hardcore crimes….Non-racing and non-car fans will appreciate his hero as well as his crisp plotting, hard-boiled style and realistic dialogue. In his debut novel, Ulfelder deftly solves a mystery, and explores how family ties are established and what they mean.” –Associated Press

“The redemption that every flawed person tries to find in life enhances the complex plot that percolates in former journalist Steve Ulfelder's exciting mystery fiction debut. And Purgatory Chasm is certainly loaded with myriad flawed characters and their avenues to redemption, starting with Conway Sax… Purgatory Chasm moves at a brisk clip as Ulfelder smoothly steers his plot from one hairpin twist to the next. Ulfelder… adds just enough automobiles lore to spice Purgatory Chasm, but not overwhelm it. Ulfelder brings a gritty, uncompromising view to his hard-boiled debut. At the same time, the author makes Conway both tough and vulnerable, a man who has made too many mistakes in his life and, unfortunately, will make even more. Purgatory Chasm is a superb beginning for an author who shows much promise.” –South Florida Sun-Sentinel

 

“Ulfelder's debut 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

 

“A surprising and satifying hard-boiled crime novel, the author’s first, and both grimly realistic and exciting… If the author can sustain this level of invention and vivid writing, this is a great career a-borning.” –The Sullivan County Democrat

 

“A gritty razor sharp new voice in crime fiction.” –The Keene Sentinel

 

“Ulfelder couples precise, evocative prose with an original private investigator in his compelling hard-boiled debut…. Ulfelder smoothly navigates the many plot twists, and effortlessly introduces wrinkles in his protagonist's backstory that enhance the character. Fans of Michael Koryta's PI crime novels will find a lot to like.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

 

"Conway is one of those tough but tender, emotionally damaged protagonists that calls out to certain mystery readers.... Ulfelder’s first novel gets a thumbs up." --Booklist

Purgatory Chasm is Ulfelder’s first novel, but he clearly has the ability to get inside the minds of his multi-faceted characters and bring out their best and worst. His casual style moves the reader along at a rapid pace that fits perfectly with the theme of automobiles and racing. Even though I am not an auto racing enthusiast and can’t even change a tire, I found myself caught up in the story. Ulfelder has created Sax as a flawed human being with a sense of integrity and honor. I look forward to more of his novels.” --Suspense Magazine

“A promising debut… with one of the funniest, punchiest, most memorable -- and for this paper unprintable -- first sentences in recent murder mysteries.” –MetroWest Daily News

 

“Steve Ulfelder's debut novel weaves a gritty tale of justice and redemption.” –Fall River Herald News

 

“Ulfelder’s debut grabs you from its wryly hilarious opening line and keeps going full throttle till the finale.  His characters are deep and realistically rendered – sometimes painfully so – and the broken family dynamics are right on the money.  Ulfelder writes so well that even non-NASCAR fanatics will get something out of the car talk and racing scenes.  Can’t wait for book two!” – RT Book Reviews, Top pick, 4 ½ stars

 

“This outstanding debut by a former journalist and racing enthusiast is gritty and fast-paced, with an intriguing plot and believable characters. Ulfelder has introduced a solid new protagonist, and the many race car anecdotes add to the novel’s allure. It will appeal strongly to readers of Loren D. Estleman and Ross MacDonald and those who enjoy hard-boiled detective mysteries.” –Library Journal, starred review

 

“Fathers and sons, American style…. The protagonist is… strong, engaging and fully realized… A promising debut.” --Kirkus

 

“The tough, working class setting and the no-nonsense, wisecrack-free tone will get under your fingernails, and fans of George Pelecanos will dig the eye for workingman, hands-on detail that race car driver and first-time novelist Ulfelder exhibits—whether Conway is drywalling a house, stumbling through a murder investigation, or simply trying to do the right thing, there’s a veracity and empathy that shows the author himself isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty; or apply a little elbow grease when it comes to plotting… More, please.” –Mystery Scene

 

"Genuine characters and intense action--a serious crime novel with serious edge." – Patrick Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Breach

 

Purgatory Chasm grabs you at the gate and doesn’t let go, careening through a top-notch whodunit to an ending you don’t see coming. A debut this good makes you wonder what Ulfelder’s holding back for the next race.” –Sophie Littlefield, Edgar Award-nominated author of A Bad Day for Sorry

 

"Like the cars of which Steve Ulfelder writes with such knowledge and grace, this story holds a hot, ominous idle just until Ulfelder engages gears and hits the gas, pinning you back against the seat, helpless to leave before the end of the ride. One of those rare debuts that leaves you immediately eager to see what is next." --Michael Koryta, award-winning author of The Silent Hour and The Cypress House

 

“A thrilling new talent in crime fiction, Steve Ulfelder has written a debut that crackles with hard-boiled wit and white-knuckled action.  Conway Sax will stay with you long after the final page releases you from its grip.” –Norb Vonnegut, author of The Gods of Greenwich

 

 “Purgatory Chasm is the dark -- sometimes despairing -- story of Conway Sax’s Barnburner promise to a fellow alcoholic, and Ulfelder’s voice makes the tale as powerful and true as rocketing down the back straight at Martinsville Speedway. He’s given us living proof that scars are sometimes the only legacy we can pass down from one generation to the next.” -- Louise Ure, Shamus Award winning author of Liar’s Anonymous

 

“An indelible voice, a rich but simply rendered plot, and a protagonist with enormous heart make Purgatory Chasm a great read and the announcement of a promising new author in Steve Ulfelder.” –Bryan Gruley, author of Starvation Lake and The Hanging Tree

 

“The story is suspenseful and original, the characters are well-drawn, and the dialogue crackles.  The fact is, Steve Ulfelder can really write, and Purgatory Chasm is a remarkably strong debut. I look forward to his next book.” – Bruce DeSilva, Edgar Award-winning author of Rogue Island
[http://brucedesilva.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/steve-ulfelders-remarkably-strong-debut-crime-novel/]

 

“If Chuck Norris had a problem, he’d call Conway Sax.” --bestdamncreativewritingblog.com

 

“[A] superlative debut… one of the best mystery debuts I've read in a long time. Steve Ulfelder is definitely a new voice to be heard in the noir genre. Unlike most bloody, shoot-'em-up crime dramas, Purgatory Chasm is a great whodunit.…[It’s] a very unique mystery with memorable characters and a gripping, whodunit plot that involves a serial killer. On several occasions, I became teary eyed, especially when reading about the crushed hopes and dreams of some of the novel's tragic characters. The ending itself was quite sad. I won't be able to shake myself free of it for a long time.” --gumshoereview.com

 

Purgatory Chasm is one of those books I had a hard time putting down. It grabbed me with the first line and I had to keep reading to find out what kind of trouble Conway was going to get into next. And there was plenty of trouble. There were loads of twists and turns and an ending I didn’t see coming. I thought about it long after I finished the book. Every character was well-drawn and compelling. Conway is a guy you just have to root for. His friend, Randall—an Iraq war veteran with a prosthetic leg—is Conway’s conscience and tries to keep him on the straight and narrow. Charlene is Conway’s on-and-off girlfriend. She’s been disappointed by him several times, but somehow their relationship survives. I especially liked the relationship between Charlene’s daughter and Conway. Even minor characters who only make one-time appearances are interesting. If you like P.I. novels with lots of action, compelling characters, and an ending that will blow you away, Purgatory Chasm is definitely a book you need to pick up.” -- workingstiffs.blogspot.com

[http://workingstiffs.blogspot.com/2011/04/purgatory-chasm-review.html]

 

“A highly enjoyable journey of one man’s quest to hold his end of the bargain – with the help of a few friends. The narrative is slick and Purgatory Chasm is a very quick read, one thing it certainly did was hold my attention effortlessly throughout.” –milorambles.com

[http://www.milorambles.com/2011/05/02/purgatory-chasm-by-steve-ulfelder-book-review/]

 

“If you enjoy novels about bad boy anti-heroes,   Purgatory Chasm  is well-written,  richly plotted and a lot of fun.   Recommended.” –Libdrone.info

 

“A mystery that brings readers through a whodunit to an ending people don’t see coming.” –Hingham Journal

 

“Steve Ulfelder makes an impressive debut with a most unusual protagonist in Purgatory Chasm…. Once you open Purgatory Chasm, you will find it very hard to put down. Steve Ulfelder is a new author to watch and I hope he will give us more of Conway Sax and his close-knit Barnburners.” --www.bookloons.com

 

“While searching Tander’s past for motives for his murder, Conway uncovers uncomfortable secrets and betrayals — hidden truths that force him to reexamine the turbulent relationship with his own father. This powerful debut thriller featuring a unique protagonist is a finalist for the 2012 Anthony and Edgar Awards for Best First Novel.” –stopyourekillingme.com


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About the Author

Steve Ulfelder

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.  In addition to trade and automotive magazines, he wrote for the Boston Globe, Boston magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many others. His first novel, Purgatory Chasm, was an Edgar Award Finalist. 

Steve Ulfelder

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Whole Lie
Steve Ulfelder

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books
May 2012
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466802421
ISBN10: 1466802421
320 pages
$7.99

Hardcover

Hardcover
St. Martin's Press
Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books
May 2012
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780312604547
ISBN10: 0312604548
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 320 pages
$24.99
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Minotaur Books

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