Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage (Conway Sax) by Steve Ulfelder

I await each Conway Sax novel eagerly. Not only because I love the character but also because the writing improves with every new book. And by that I don't just mean the plotting or the pacing but also the rhythm of the writing. I am fascinated with the spare, effective prose. You can't really compare it to the overly short style of James Elroy or the leave-out-the-parts-people-skip style of Elmore Leonard or Robert B. Parker. It's more like an incredible merger of those styles, infused with some James Lee Burke darkness. The start of each sentence, the way the paragraphs are structured... It's all brilliantly used to get the story across, to get Conway's feeling across. Steve Ulfelder surprises me every time, each novel better than the one that came before.
After his dangerous adventures in the last novel Conway Sax, mechanic and fixer for his AA buddies, is out on his one, having fallen out with his wife. That gives him an extra, hardboiled edge that was tempered a bit before by his marriage. He's more agressive then ever, more open to using force to help out or avenge his friends.
He manages to rescue the son of a friend who's in his AA group from a few thugs in LA. When he gets back home the friend is killed by a sniper, starting Conway's search for her killer. That gets him into conflict with some dangerous baddies such as the cool-named Lobo Soto. He finds betrayal on every corner and gets caught in a deadly trap. In fact, this deadly trap went well with Conway's nickame as the "Batman of alkies". Conway has the coolness of a superhero but is still very real and believable, not a crackshot or master detective but a tough guy who's just been through so much he's able to do the things we're not tough enough to do.
It seems inevitable we have my favorite novel of the year here already.

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