Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Shotgun Lullaby (Conway Sax) by Steve Ulfelder

Steve Ulfelder has delighted me with the first two books in the Conway Sax series and gets better which each novel. It is no surprise then this novel is one of my favorites this year, hell, the last five years.
Conway Sax fixes cars for a living when he's not troubleshooting for the AA group called the Barnburners. When he mentors a kid who has a close resemblance to his son Roy he gets involved a bit too personally. When a man seems to be mistaken for Gus is killed by a shotgun Sax investigates.
It turns out there are links to a dimunitive conman and a mobster, making this one dangerous case. In fact, Conway's family is endangered, making our protagonist surrender to his rage, the red mist that can make him a dangerous and violent man.
Sax does a few things that make him the dark anti-hero I love so much. He tries to do the right thing, but he's not the fighter Jack Reacher is, nor can he have a guy like Hawk do the darker stuff. He has to tread a dark path and fight to stay a good man.
Aside from the good mystery, the violent action scenes, vivid characters and very, very interesting Conway Sax this one has another big plus... Steve shows us how to write hardboiled prose, that is, he doesn't overdo the descriptions but doesn't go the route of the latest Robert B Parker novels, still giving us the deep thoughts of Sax in some poetic prose. The story excited AND moved me, especially the flashback to Sax' time with his son Roy.
Steve Ulfelder's best yet. And that says something.

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