Conway never did like blowhard Tander Phigg. But Tander’s a Barnburner, a member of a unique Alcoholics Anonymous group, and when a Barnburner has a problem, Conway takes care of it. The mechanic reluctantly agrees to rescue Tander’s classic car from a shady restoration shop, but there’s soon much more to the problem – when Tander turns up dead.
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.
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.
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.
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.