Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage

A Conway Sax Mystery

A Conway Sax Mystery (Volume 4)

Steve Ulfelder

Minotaur Books

Conway Sax is back in a thrilling and heartrending new novel from critically acclaimed, Edgar-nominated author Steve Ulfelder

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.

"Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage is tough and full of heart, just like its hero, Conway Sax. It’s fast-paced, hard-edged, and so authentic that you can almost feel the grit beneath your fingernails." —Meg Gardiner, New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Tracer


Read an Excerpt

You can’t even count on a jack handle anymore.
This one came from the spare-tire well of my rented Chevy Tahoe. A two-ton SUV like that, you’d expect something stout. Something that could take or dish out a little punishment.
This handle was junk, pot metal with an outside diameter of a half inch at best. I wanted to, I could’ve bent it no sweat.
But it was what I had.
All I had.
And I knew that right now, Kenny Spoon was in the cinder-block building across the way. And I’d been in Los Angeles damn near a week, and it was


Praise for Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage

Praise for Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage

“For fans of hunky protagonists and testosterone-driven action, Steve Ulfelder’s Conway Sax novels are just the ticket… Readers will see parallels to ‘The Maltese Falcon’ in this story of a macho guy who must choose between love and loyalty.” –The Boston Globe

“A fast-paced, highly satisfying mystery told in the same muscular, vivid prose that distinguished the first three novels in this Edgar Award-nominated series… Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage solidifies Ulfelder's place as one of the best crime novelists to come out of Massachusetts since Dennis Lehane burst on the scene two decades ago.” –Associated Press

“Stellar… Sax, a Spenser-like paladin more plausible than Robert B. Parker’s original Spenser, makes mistakes that are front and center and whose consequences resonate from book to book. Fans will be interested to see what effect this entry’s hard knocks on Sax’s soul have down the line.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Amazingly, as gritty and violent as Sax is, he is also endearing, a difficult feat to pull off but Ufelder does it brilliantly. Lots of action and violence along with a dash of humor are the hallmarks of this series, and this latest entry does not disappoint. The twists and turns run wildly through this story right up to the surprising ending. Ufelder, like Elmore Leonard, exemplifies contemporary noir." --Booklist

“Action stoked, this complicated thriller—both for the character study and the murder plot—satisfies on many levels. The intense culture of AA and recovery is particularly well done. Pair with Robert Crais or Archer Mayor.” –Library Journal

“[Conway Sax is] always compared to Robert Parker’s Spenser, and that’s fair—he’s in New England, though small-town, not Boston, and then there’s the salty first-person narration. But Sax is both a little darker—more violent, really—and a little talkier than Spenser, so you tend to think of Elmore Leonard, too.” --Sullivan County Democrat

"Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage is tough and full of heart, just like its hero, Conway Sax. It’s fast-paced, hard-edged, and so authentic that you can almost feel the grit beneath your fingernails." —Meg Gardiner, New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Tracer

“Fans of Steve Hamilton and Ace Atkins will relish the compulsively readable Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage.  Its quixotic knight in tarnished armor, Conway Sax, becomes more fascinating with each outing in this distinguished series.  Edgar Award finalist Steve Ulfelder's most accomplished novel yet.” --Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author of Through the Evil Days

Praise for Shotgun Lullaby

“A bloody good yarn, one infused with the blood that binds and the blood that spills.  Ulfelder, an amateur race driver and co-owner of a company that builds racecars, once again takes the checkered flag in this gripping and addictive novel.” –Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A real page turner.” –Dayton Daily News

“Outstanding… Ulfelder has constructed the persona of his hard-edged but sympathetic lead carefully enough to ensure a long series run.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review
“This action-packed story moves lightning fast, and Sax makes an appealingly damaged protagonist. Dennis Lehane and Robert B. Parker fans will enjoy Ulfelder.” --Booklist
“Ulfelder’s hardscrabble central Massachusetts is a fully realized, unusual setting, and Conway Sax is one of the most interesting, complicated protagonists in the contemporary mystery arena. Exceptional characterization and a quickly zigzagging plot make this a must-read for anyone who loves modern noir. This series is a natural choice for Dennis Lehane fans or for readers who like their antiheroes with a heart of gold.” --Library Journal, starred review

“Ulfelder hits hard and fast, sometimes below the belt, with his fantastic third Conway Sax novel. Sax is an original: flawed, self-aware and undisciplined. He leads the reader on a merry chase through a maze of suspects until he narrows it down to the real perpetrator.” –RT BOOK Reviews, 4 ½ stars

“Dark, soulful and violent.” –Kirkus

“Shotgun Lullaby… [is] Ulfelder’s best, most tightly written story so far, following on the successful heels of his first two books, Purgatory Chasm and The Whole Lie…. The book is riveting because Ulfelder knows how to write: His prose is uncluttered, the dialog matches real-life talk and the humor is actually funny, with a welcome absence of wisecracks. Sax is riveting because he’s struggling, and we can recognize some of his failings as ours…. In Lullaby, a final harrowing scene brings all of Sax’s messy contradictions to bear in one breath-holding moment readers won’t soon forget. It’s a testament to the author’s skill that we keep hoping Sax will pull things together. We want him to slow down and breathe deeply, and we’re still on his side. Shotgun Lullaby will make an indelible impression on all readers up for a great ride.” --BookPage

“Gritty, intense, completely original. Ulfelder nails the voice, nails the story, and pushes Conway Sax, his unforgettable main character, beyond his breaking point. Shotgun Lullaby is more than just a page-turner of a mystery—it’s a masterful study of a good guy gone bad, and his heart-breaking struggle to be good again.” --Hank Phillippi Ryan, bestselling Agatha, Anthony & Macavity winning author of The Other Woman

“Steve Ulfelder is one of the most street-smart authors writing crime fiction today. Shotgun Lullaby is a thrill ride that hits the gas hard on page one and races all the way to a heart-pounding finish.” –Paul Doiron, author of Bad Little Falls

“Shotgun Lullaby is exactly as tough, and exactly as full of heart, as the title suggests. Steve Ulfelder is a major talent.” –Timothy Hallinan, author of The Fear Artist

“Mr. Ulfelder, and “Connie” Sax, captivated me, and the plot kept me turning pages quickly as the suspense heightened and the novel ended in unexpected fashion. This was a very satisfying read, and I will look forward to reading this author’s books in future.  Recommended.” --iloveamysterynewsletter.com

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 ***
*Nominated for the Anthony Award for Best First Mystery of 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

“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

“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

“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

“Purgatory Chasm is a hardboiled, fast-paced novel. It’s an action-packed, solid debut, worthy of an Edgar nomination. Steve Ulfelder deserves kudos for the story. Most of all, he deserves kudos for the creation of Conway Sax, a memorable character.” --lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com
Full Littlefield blurb:
Steve Ulfelder’s 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. The story spans decades and state lines and race and class barriers, but it never feels too big or unwieldy in Ulfelder’s capable hands. Recovering addict and high-test grease monkey Conway Sax retains enough hell-for-leather to keep him firmly on the interesting side of the twelve steps.  Noir but never bleak, razor-witted but not cynical, and poignant without getting bogged down by sentiment, PURGATORY CHASM is gritty enough for hardboiled fans, with heart to spare.

Characters don’t come much murkier than Tander Phigg, Conway’s boorish blowhard AA pal who extracts a promise before turning up dead, an apparent suicide. Following fast on the dead man’s heels come a slew of complications in the form of sass-mouth women of all ages and a variety of thugs and even Conway’s own washed-up estranged father, all of whom appear to be working at cross purposes. Lest you fear there’s no one to root for, Ulfelder stacks the deck with irresistible secondary characters, including a one-footed wise-beyond-his-years sidekick, a disenchanted girlfriend, a ballsy coterie of fellow ex-addicts, even a couple of cats.  And Ulfelder’s got a master’s command of takeaway lines – MacDonald, Macdonald, Parker et al. have got nothing on him. A debut this good makes you wonder what Ulfelder’s holding back for the next race.

“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

Reviews from Goodreads



  • 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 Nancy Gould Photography
    Steve Ulfelder





    Available Formats and Book Details

    Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage

    A Conway Sax Mystery

    A Conway Sax Mystery

    Steve Ulfelder



    Minotaur Books