PURGATORY CHASM by Steve Ulfelder


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Fathers and sons, American style.

Conway Sax once drove race cars. He drove them fast enough to garner attention, well enough to view the NASCAR circuit as a realistic career choice. But that was before he had to admit he was an all-too-realistic drunk. What happened? There’s no easy answer, but even someone as little given to introspection as Conway understands that a corrosive father-son relationship augurs negative consequences. And Conway’s was a doozy. Enter the Barnburners, a serious AA offshoot for serious alcoholics. Because he credits them with saving his life, Conway willingly becomes the Barnburners’ go-to guy. His reputation for heavy lifting makes it natural for Barnburner Tander Phigg to call on him in his hour of need. Conway doesn’t like Tander or care much for the spurious feel of Tander’s deal, glossed over though it is. But saintly or shiftless, a Barnburner’s a Barnburner. So Conway saddles up, begins asking the relevant questions and is soon knee-deep in murder, mayhem and the kind of bad-seed malevolence that heedlessness makes doubly dangerous—all complicated by a father-son relationship almost as dysfunctional as his own.

The protagonist is so strong, engaging and fully realized that he dwarfs the surrounding cast. Still, a promising debut.


Pub Date: May 10th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-67292-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2011


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