Steve Ulfelder offers fast ride, plenty of twists

Updated: May 13, 2011, 19:24 PM IST

London: Conway Sax is a has-been racing driver, an ace auto mechanic, a recovering alcoholic and a refreshing new character solving hardcore crimes.

Sax is trying to put his life back together after boozing himself off the racing circuit and out of a moneymaking repair shop specializing in fine cars.

These days his concern is rehabilitating a house on the wrong side of Framingham, Mass., and establishing a relationship with a woman and her daughter who are becoming increasingly important to him.

Sax has another overriding loyalty — to the Barnburners, an Alcoholics Anonymous group that helped him get straight. Sax would do anything for a Barnburner, even a lowlife blowhard like Tander Phigg.

So when Phigg asks him to retrieve his beloved Mercedes-Benz and the money from the repair shop that was supposed to fix it, Sax reluctantly steps up.

A self-described grease monkey, Sax uses that ability to size up the shop that has Phigg`s car, and the people running it.

After that, things turn complicated and bloody.

Sax is very much a blue-collar hero — hardworking and down-to-earth — who finds himself in an increasingly dangerous situation that eventually has him fighting for his life.

Ulfelder, a race car driver and co-owner of a race car building company, doesn`t overload the book with technical jargon or inside information. 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.

‘Purgatory Chasm’ is a book that holds interest on many levels.

Bureau Report