Minotaur Books, Hardcover, 9781250028082, 326pp.
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
From critically acclaimed, Edgar-nominated author Steve Ulfelder-Conway Sax is back in a thrilling and heart-wrenching story of how far a father will go to save his son
Conway Sax is a man seeking redemption. A man with a deeply checkered past currently paying for his sins by helping Gus Biletnikov stay sober. Wise-ass Gus, son of a wealthy investment banker, drives Conway nuts. But he also reminds him of his own estranged son, and so Conway finds himself deeply invested in his wellbeing.
When a brutal triple-murder takes place in Gus's halfway house, Conway suspects Gus was the intended victim, and resolves to find the killer in his usual full-tilt, no-holds-barred fashion. The list of suspects soon includes the longtime organized-crime warlord of Springfield, Massachusetts; Gus's own father, who's a bundle of insecurity despite his fortune; the father's second wife, a stunning beauty webbed in ugly motives; and a Houston con man who'll swipe your gold fillings but crack you up while he does so. But the case is no laughing matter to Conway when somebody close to him is murdered. To find the killer and prevent yet more senseless death, he needs help from both an ambitious Brazilian-American state cop, and an unlikely criminal source. Along the way, Conway's personal responsibilities clash with his vow to help fellow alcoholics, forcing him to make his toughest decision yet in this unforgettable page-turner reminiscent of Robert B. Parker and Dennis Lehane.
Praise for "Shotgun Lullaby"
"""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"
"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 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.
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
“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 creates interesting, sometimes flawed characters and this is no more evident than with Sax… Ulfelder gives us several well-placed twists. Don’t bet the bank you know whodunnit and what’s going to happen next in this book. Chances are you don’t.” –Mystery Scene
“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 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 Y 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 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
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
Praise for Purgatory Chasm
*** Nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery 2012 ***
*** Nominated for RT Book Review’s 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
“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