Friday, May 11, 2012
The Whole Lie by Steve Ulfelder
Conway Sax is an auto mechanic, a convicted felon, and a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. He's a man with a past that he can't forget, even when he's struggling to make a future. His girlfriend, Charlene, dragged herself up from addiction to become a wealthy woman. She and her daughter love Conway. But, Conway is a man who can't forgive himself, resents the fact that the woman he loves owns his garage, and he can't accept love. When Savvy Kane, a woman from his past shows up, she pushes all the right buttons. She, too, was a Barnburner, a member of the close-knit AA group that helped Conway maintain his sobriety. She claims a politician running for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts is the father of her son, and he's being blackmailed. Savvy wants Conway's help, and he never turns down a Barnburner. And, despite Charlene's anger and demands, Conway agrees to help Savvy.
Politics makes strange bedfellows, in so many ways in The Whole Lie. As Conway gets involved with the politicians, with Savvy, and with the search for a blackmailer, the story gets uglier and more violent, until it leads to murders, and more threats. Conway desperately needs a few friends to help him uncover The Whole Lie.
But, The Whole Lie isn't just about blackmail, politics and murder. The Whole Lie is about a recovering alcoholic who lives by his own code of honor. It's about that man who still can't see the whole truth as to why he takes on impossible cases. And, he certainly can't see past the stories he tells others, or the truth he hides from them. And, as much as Conway loves Charlene and her daughter, Sophie, neither he nor Charlene know how a family is supposed to work. It's all of these qualities that make Conway Sax work as sympathetic character. He's not just a convicted felon willing to use violence if he has to. Conway Sax is a sensitive, struggling man, struggling to make a relationship work, while at the same time, struggling to honor pledges he made years ago. And, it's all those conflicts that tear Sax apart, threatening his future, his future life with Charlene, and his future sobriety.
The Whole Lie works as a complex mystery where the truth is buried under all kinds of lies. But, Ulfelder's novel also works as the story of a recovering alcoholic coping with all the lies alcoholics tell themselves and the people they love. And, all those lies in his own past enable Conway Sax, a recovering alcoholic, to recognize layers and layers of stories until he is able to uncover the truth in Steve Ulfelder's outstanding second mystery, The Whole Lie.
Steve Ulfelder's website is www.ulfelder.com
The Whole Lie by Steve Ulfelder. Minotaur Books. 2012. ISBN 9780312604547 (hardcover), 312p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publicist sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.