Ulfelder’s debut grabs you from its wryly hilarious opening line and keeps going full throttle till the finale. His characters are deep and realistically rendered — sometimes painfully so — and the broken family dynamics are right on the money. Ulfelder writes so well that even non-NASCAR fanatics will get something out of the car talk and racing scenes. Can’t wait for book two!
Conway Sax, troubled former NASCAR driver and recovering alcoholic, has found his place in life as a “fixer” for an unorthodox AA group. The Barnburners take care of their own, even the unlikable ones, so when charter member Tander Phigg asks Sax to help him recover a fancy car, Sax agrees. But soon Phigg is dead and Sax is the lead suspect. He will honor his promise to Phigg and find his killer, ‘cause he’s that kind of guy. (MINOTAUR, May, 288 pp., $23.99)