Tag Archives: sue grafton

Book Review: U IS FOR UNDERTOW

I’ve been reading Sue Grafton for a quarter century now, starting in high school when I found her books in the school library (I spent a lot of time there). I devoured the “A” through “C” Kinsey Millhone adventures like an ex-con having his first meal on the outside. Over the years, the books were uneven but I kept reading out of obligation, as if Kinsey had become an old friend whose imperfections I accepted. I listened to her tales even if she rambled a little.

I was thrilled, then, to find her latest adventure, U is for Undertow, utterly captivating. After only a few pages, I knew Kinsey was back on track and I could dive in out of pure pleasure.

The case begins when Kinsey is approached by a young man named Michael Sutton who suddenly remembers something that happened when he was six years old. At the time, Sutton attached no significance to the incident but, after reading a newspaper article about an unsolved 21-year-old kidnapping of a little girl, he believes what he saw were two people burying the child.

After Sutton hires Kinsey to investigate, the story moves back and forth between 1988 (Kinsey’s present) and 1967, when the kidnapping occurred. Grafton deftly juggles multiple POVs; besides Kinsey’s, the author doles out pieces of the puzzle from the perspectives of several characters who are directly and tangentially involved in the crime, painting a full-bodied portrait of each. The plot turns in unpredictable directions and though it might be obvious early on who did it, Grafton keeps you guessing about the why.

The case is complex enough to keep Kinsey busy, but she’s also grappling with personal issues after making startling discoveries about her past which destroy her long-held perceptions of certain family members. Because the books are told in first person and I’ve sided with Kinsey for years against the relatives who abandoned her as a child, these new revelations threw me for a loop as well. Kinsey won’t be able to change overnight but at the end of this book, she takes brave, hopeful steps towards what could be an extreme life makeover.

Nerd verdict: Strong Undertow will pull you in

Holidaze

Sonoma © Pop Culture Nerd

I was in Sonoma most of last week for Thanksgiving and went more or less unplugged, lazing about in a tryptophan stupor and elastic-waist pants, catching up on reading and pie-eating. (I also saw G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra but prefer not to talk about that.) If you celebrate Thanksgiving, hope you and yours had a brilliant one.

Just got home, plane was delayed, it’s late, so I’ll make a few bullet points and call it a night.

  • I’ll be taking entries for the Precious script giveaway contest until 5 p.m. PST today so leave a comment here if you haven’t already. You’ll want to read it if the movie isn’t showing near you or if you’re an aspiring screenwriter and want to see how it’s done. For those who have already left comments, thank you for sharing your incredible stories about the precious people in your life.
  • Coming up this week, I’ve got book reviews of The Lineup and Sue Grafton’s U is for Undertow, and a movie review of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones.
  • And a don’t-miss-post: an interview with Robert Crais and giveaway of an ARC of The First Rule, plus autographed postcards featuring locales from the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike books not available anywhere else!

Hope your week/post-pie-orgy diet is off to a good start and I’ll see you online soon.

Sonoma © Pop Culture Nerd