Title: U is for Undertow
Author: Sue Grafton
Genre/Pages: Mystery, Fiction, Series/416
Publication: Putnam; December 1, 2009
Rating: 3.5 BOOKMARKS
After reading the 20 books in the Kinsey Milhone series that precede this one, I have to admit that I’d given up hope on my favorite 80s gumshoe. Miraculously, with her 21st installment, Grafton has pumped new life into Kinsey and into the series!
Using flashbacks, Sue Grafton skillfully weaves the past into Kinsey’s present. Michael Sutton comes to see private eye Kinsey Milhone with a hazy childhood memory that may have some bearing on an unsolved missing child case dating back 21 years to 1967 (the series is set in the 1980s in Santa Teresa, CA).
Sutton is almost immediately characterized as an unreliable source and everything he says is suspect. Did he really see two pirates burying treasure in the woods behind a friend’s house or was something more sinister afoot?
Kinsey manages to unravel the mystery with her tenacity, pulling on short threads of evidence until something gives. The flashbacks gave another dimension to the story and provided much needed back-story and narrative perspective.
At 416 pages, this isn’t a light read, but it was quick. Grafton foreshadows a good deal of the plot twists and there isn’t a huge reveal in the last few pages.
The last several installments of this series weren’t doing it for me and I almost skipped this one all together. I’m glad I didn’t–it’s interesting, cleverly told, and has a fresh storyline that I enjoyed. The regular cast of characters make appearances, including a family meeting with Kinsey’s grandmother!
I’ll be looking forward to V is for… sometime next year!