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)

As dark, soulful and violent as the title would suggest. There’s a real lullaby and some real shotguns.

This action-packed story moves lightning fast, and Sax makes an appealingly damaged protagonist. Dennis Lehane and Robert B. Parker fans will enjoy Ulfelder.


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.
–Sons of Spade

Fast-paced and hard-hitting, Ulfelder knows this territory well, pushing the limits and pulling back just in time.

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.
-Jen’s Book Thoughts

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.
–Book Reviews by Elizabeth A. White


Nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery 2012

Winner of the Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT Book Reviews 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 [Ulfelder’s] 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

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.

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

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

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.

If Chuck Norris had a problem, he’d call Conway Sax.
-The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog

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.
-Working Stiffs

Sax is a very likable character, even if he feels obligated to sometimes do questionable things for the Barnburners to repay them for saving his life… Ulfelder writes some devastating scenes, made more so because of things that aren’t said. We hurt more for Sax because he’s not openly sentimental; we fill in the blanks when he doesn’t show us his feelings. But show Ulfelder does, instead of telling, and for that I’m glad I came along for the ride.
-Pop Culture Nerd

Genuine characters and intense action–a serious crime novel with serious edge.” – Patrick Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Breach “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

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

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

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

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

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.
–Milo’s Rambles

If you enjoy novels about bad boy anti-heroes, Purgatory Chasm is well-written, richly plotted and a lot of fun. Recommended.
–Libdrone Books

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.
-Lesa’s Book Critiques

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.
–Stop You’re Killing Me