Elizabeth A.'s Reviews > The Whole Lie

The Whole Lie by Steve Ulfelder
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Jun 22, 12

Conway Sax can’t seem to catch a break. He tries. God knows he tries. But no matter how desperately he wants to walk the straight and narrow, something always seems to pull him off track and into trouble of one kind or another. Ironically enough, it’s usually Conway’s desire to do the right thing that lands him in the wrong place.

A recovering alcoholic, Conway belongs to a tight-knit group of AA members known as the Barnburners. Given his physical size and status as an ex-con, Conway has become the group’s de facto “problem solver.” When a Barnburner asks for help, Conway responds. No questions. No excuses.

Savannah Kane was a Barnburner. Seven years ago she was in trouble and Conway helped her disappear. Now she’s back, and Conway can’t help but remember the passionate affair they had, and all the trouble she got him into. Some things change. Conway has a life and business now with his longtime girlfriend and isn’t interested in rekindling the flame with Savannah. Some things, however, stay the same. Savannah’s still a Barnburner. And she’s still getting Conway into trouble.

The Whole Lie, author Steve Ulfelder’s follow-up to the Edgar Award nominated Purgatory Chasm, finds Conway drawn into the sleazy world of politics in the form of the Massachusetts gubernatorial race. Turns out Savannah has connections to Lieutenant Governor candidate billionaire Bert Saginaw, and there are bad things happening around the campaign. Initially brought in to get to the bottom of a blackmail situation, Conway soon finds himself dealing with murder… and an extreme crisis of conscience.

While painfully well aware of his past mistakes, Conway’s deep sense of loyalty to those he feels helped him through one of the darkest times in his life keeps leading him to repeat many of those same mistakes. He knows better intellectually, but there’s something deeper, something down in the very fabric of his DNA that just won’t let him walk away.

Ulfelder has created a fresh, compelling lead in Conway Sax, a character precariously straddling the line between invincible tough guy and vulnerable emotional wreck. The conflicts Conway struggles with, both internally and externally, are as real and raw as it gets, and Ulfelder’s portrayal of a man torn between his loyalty to the past and hope for the future is nothing short of masterful. It’s the guaranteed truth that you will be taken in by The Whole Lie.

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