Purgatory Chasm by Steve Ulfelder

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“Tander Phigg was an asshole, but he was also a Barnburner. Barnburners saved my life. I help them when I can. No exceptions.”

The job seems simple. Conway Sax, a no-nonsense auto mechanic with a knack for solving difficult problems, has never liked obnoxious blowhard Tander Phigg. But a promise is a promise. Tander’s a Barnburner, a member of the unique Alcoholics Anonymous 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 baby, a vintage Mercedes that’s been in a shady auto shop far too long.

But Conway soon discovers there's much more to the problem than Tander first let on – especially when Tander turns up dead. Conway was the last person seen with the victim, and on top of that, he has a record, making him the cops’ top suspect. He must catch the killer to clear himself, but beyond that, he’s 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. Conway Sax isn’t a hired gun or a wise-cracking urbanite. He’s just a mechanic trying to make his way, a blue-collar guy whose ideas about family and loyalty are as deeply held as they are strong. He’ll break your heart if you’re not careful.

Advance Praise for Purgatory Chasm:

"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

"Holds a hot, ominous idle just until Ulfelder engages gears and hits the gas, pinning you back against the seat, hopeless 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

“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


About Steve Ulfelder

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STEVE ULFEDER is an amateur race driver and co-owner of a company that builds race cars. He was a business and technology journalist for twenty years.  He lives in Southborough, Massachusetts, with his family.
Published May 10, 2011 by Minotaur Books. 304 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Purgatory Chasm

Kirkus Reviews

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Conway Sax once drove race cars.

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Publishers Weekly

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Tander Phigg, a Barnburner whose 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL Sax once worked on, persuades him to help retrieve the classic car—and the $3,500 deposit—from Das Motorenwerk, a garage in New Hampshire that's had the vehicle for 18 months and done nothing.

Mar 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Purgatory Chasm


Soon Sax finds some of Phigg's missing money and the people looking for it pull out no stops to get the money and to find the rest of Phigg's wealth.

Feb 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Purgatory Chasm

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PURGATORY CHASM: A MYSTERY by Steve Ulfelder begins with the narrator, Conway Sax, complaining about Tander Phigg, a person Sax knows through Alcoholics Anonymous, who asked him for a favor.

Sep 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Purgatory Chasm

Sun Sentinel

To clear his name, Conway begins his own investigation into Tander to learn why this once-wealthy man has fallen on hard times and if the garage has businesses beyond cars.

May 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Purgatory Chasm

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