Monday, February 8, 2010

Review: U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton

416 pages
ISBN 9780399155970
01 Dec 2009
Putnam Adult
18 - AND UP

From the Publisher:

It’s April, 1988, a month before Kinsey Millhone’s thirty-eighth birthday, and she’s alone in her office doing paperwork when a young man arrives unannounced. He has a preppy air about him and looks as if he’d be carded if he tried to buy booze, but Michael Sutton is twenty-seven, an unemployed college dropout. Twenty-one years earlier, a four-year-old girl disappeared. A recent reference to her kidnapping has triggered a flood of memories. Sutton now believes he stumbled on her lonely burial when he was six years old. He wants Kinsey’s help in locating the child’s remains and finding the men who killed her. It’s a long shot but he’s willing to pay cash up front, and Kinsey agrees to give him one day. As her investigation unfolds, she discovers Michael Sutton has an uneasy relationship with the truth. In essence, he’s the boy who cried wolf. Is his current story true or simply one more in a long line of fabrications?

I've said it before, and once again it totally applies here: I can be a bit backwards when it comes to reading books in a series. This is the first Sue Grafton book that I've read, and let's face it, U is for Undertow is getting pretty close to the end of the series (unless Sue starts with numbers next, lol.)

So the pitfalls of doing things "my way" are perhaps missing out on some of the previous references and experiences that our main character, Kinsey, has made/had. For the most part, I felt that this wasn't the case here. There was enough background throughout the story that I wasn't left feeling confused or out of the loop. It could definitely be read as a stand alone story.

The book bounces back and forth in time and I was a bit concerned about how/if it would all fit together in the end, but fit it did. The mystery wove around many characters; we get to see their points of view and how each came to be involved. It was never over the top gritty but had a generous amount of reality, like drug overdose, child abandonment, psychological problems and family drama.

I'm still not sure about my feelings regarding Kinsey. I didn't get a sense of her appearance, but this may have more to do with my reading order than anything else. What I could easily see is that she's a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is kind of woman. I learned some new terms from Kinsey, like "choners". I'm not sure if this a regional thing, but there were a few others that I'd never read anywhere else. So kudos to Ms. Grafton for expanding my slang vocabulary!

All in all, I enjoyed reading U is for Undertow and am very likely at some point in the future to start at A is for Alibi and work from there. I think this series would be a great fit if you like JD Robb, Kathy Reichs or Patricia Cornwell, with its strong female lead.


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