Book Review: U Is For Undertow By Sue Grafton
Grafton fans can rejoice! The twenty-first volume in the Kinsey Milhone mystery series is terrific. Those who have been following all along since A Is For Alibi (published way back in 1982) will be thoroughly satisfied with this latest addition to the series. This time out a young man who seemingly can ill afford to hire a private detective engages Kinsey to check out an incident he has recently remembered from his childhood. The client recalls seeing two men burying what he believes was a child who had been abducted in a case that was never solved. Kinsey duly investigates and manages to get the police to dig in the area where the client believes he saw this burial take place. And the police dig up the remains of a dead dog.
From this inauspicious beginning, the case ends up leading to a long ago murder that several people have been concealing for more than twenty years. When I reviewed T Is For Trespass, I noted that Grafton had evolved from telling the story entirely in the first person from Kinsey’s point of view to alternating between Kinsey’s view and that of the major villain. This time out the perspective is even more varied with different chapters told from varying points of view. This change is very effective and gives the novel a much faster pace. It seems as though Ms. Grafton read my complaint about Kinsey’s decreasing humanity and unseemly hostility towards the poor; I was very pleased that there was no hint of that attitude in this volume. I also greatly enjoyed the revelations in Kinsey’s personal life this time out. It develops that the grandparents and other family Kinsey believed had abandoned her following her parents’ deaths had actually tried quite hard to be a part of her life, but were held off by her Aunt Virginia. If you are already a fan, U Is For Undertow is Highly Recommended. If you have not read the earlier books, I would recommend reading them in order (click here for the full list), although the novel can more than stand on its own.