Steve Ulfelder has the right idea—grab the reader and go. Nothing extraneous, less is more. Conway Sax, the main guy, is an ex-con, ex-NASCAR driver and recovering alcoholic. A member of his AA group—Tander Phigg—asks him a simple favor: get my car back from the body shop holding it hostage. Sax agrees. But before he can get much accomplished, Phigg turns up dead, hung from the rafters of his shack in what is meant to look like a suicide.

From there, the story takes the reader on a wild ride and keeps us guessing about who exactly is involved in the suicide/murder—including Sax’s long-estranged alcoholic father who shows up out of the blue after a 30-year absence. Plenty of believable characters and interactions but blessedly, a tight, tight, story that never gets off track…a remarkable achievement from a first-time author. Stay tuned (I hope) for many more from Steve Ulfelder. This is the second nominated entry in the Edgar Awards for Best First Novel. Rating: 9 out of 10

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