The Whole Lie
Conway Sax comes back, this time plunging right into political intrigue. Savannah Kane, Conway's former lover, also a member of Alcoholics Anonymous group who are calling themselves the Barnburners, asks him for help. Savannah has a relationship with a candidate of the upcoming elections for governor. Someone blackmails a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, and Savannah asks to find a blackmailer. Conway is not eager to help some rich politician, but can not refuse Savannah. The Barnburners are on the first place, helping each other, and then only everything and everyone else. Conway receives a check for a lump sum from the candidate, feels something’s wrong, but still takes the case - the money from the check can help Conway buy his business off his girlfiend Charlene. Then someone kills Savannah, staging her death as accident, and to reveal a chain of crimes for Conway becomes a matter of honor.
The first book about Sax offered a twisted plot and believable characters, but suffered from stylistic roughness. In The Whole Lie Steve Ulfelder polished the roughness without losing the suspence of plot and fullness of the characters. Conway Sax in this book has become even more sympathetic to the reader, thanks to the narrator’s talents in Ulfelder. Often crime fiction with an amateur sleuth (and Sax is somewhere in between an amateur and a professional sleuth for AA group) disappoints with its infantilism: the protagonist, having thrown all his usual routine, runs as a madcap, revealing a world conspiracy, putting his life at risk many times in the book as if forgetting the fear. Sax is also engaged in a dangerous game, nevertheless does not become irresponsible. He cares about his business, small problems of Charlene’s daughter, trying to find such middle ground, that his detective affairs doesn’t interfere in affairs of the heart. But it’s hard to carry through.
Ulfelder with this novel definitely will not bore you. The book not only entertains, and even gives practical advice, and it is always useful to read the book from which you learn something new:
«You wouldn't believe how hard it is to tail a guy. It's not like TV at all.
Barnburner duties had taught me the only way to follow a car was to stick your nose right up his back bumper, make sure you got through the same lights he did, and hope like hell he wasn't paying attention.»
Books about Conway Sax are the best there is in the genre today.