Sunday, January 24, 2010

U is for Undertow: Doggedly determined

In this, the 21st installment of the alphabetically organized case histories of Kinsey Milhone, much depends on a dog.  The plot is kicked off when a young man, Michael Sutton, claims to have a memory that may indicate the burial place of a young girl who had disappeared in 1967, about 20 years before the time of the novel, which takes place in 1988.  Later, there will prove to be significant questions about his reliability, one of the things (and there are more than one) that will throw Kinsey off the scent.

The novel shifts back and forth between the current time and the events of the 60s that led to the tragedy that is the core of the novel.  There are some vivid characters, including 60s hippies and a vengeful sister.  Generally, the "U" of Grafton's alphabetical series is an enjoyable read.  My only concern about the plot is that at one point, the mystery of what Michael Sutton saw seems to have been (rather innocuously) resolved, and it is only Kinsey's refusal to let go that moves the plot to the next point.  Of course, this tenaciousness is not out of character; readers of the series know that Kinsey Milhone is nothing if not methodical and tenacious.  The best and most interesting thing about the book, in addition to some of the more colorful characters, is the inclusion of history that affects the outcome of the mystery.  Despite my one question about the plot, I found U is for Undertow to be an interesting mystery and well worth reading.  It is obviously a must-read for anyone keeping up with Sue Grafton's remarkable achievement of writing one novel for each letter of the alphabet.

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