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U IS FOR UNDERTOW
by Sue Grafton
Macmillan, January 2010
403 pages
16.99 GBP
ISBN: 023070932X


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The book opens with Kinsey acquiring a new client, one Michael Sutton. He comes obviously from the upper crust, and cites his prep school background, which tends to confirm Kinsey's opinion of him. He has a strange tale to tell. When he was a young child, he watched two men, whom he describes as 'pirates', dig a largish hole. Only very recently has he linked the date to that of his sixth birthday and realised that it was two days after the kidnapping of a young girl, Mary Claire Fitzhugh. Now he feels that the two men must have been burying her body. Sutton has already been to the police, who have forwarded him on to Kinsey. Kinsey decides she can spare a day to investigate.

On her family front, Kinsey has received an invitation to a family do. She is still not comfortable with the people she feels ignored her for most of her life. She doesn't really know them and doesn't feel impelled to get to know them better.

The action moves from 1988 to 1963, where Deborah Unruh is attempting to come to grips with the fact that her son, Greg, has taken up with a pregnant woman named Shelly. Deborah feels she cannot, in all conscience, throw the little family out before the child is born. Shelly also has a son named Shawn, the identity of whose father she claims not to know. When the baby, a little girl named Rain, is born, Shelly happily discards the child, leaving her with Deborah and her husband Patrick, where Rain enjoys a far better upbringing than she would with her natural (or unnatural) mother.

I've always enjoyed Sue Grafton's work and this volume is no exception to the rule. I found the plotting of the murder to be quite credible as well as involving. Kinsey's personal and family history is also very interesting. She is something of an abrasive character, but understandably so. The villains of the piece, greedy and ruthless, are all too credible and Michael Sutton, while perhaps not quite the translucently good creature he first appears to be, still doesn't deserve the reward that is meted out to him.

Grafton is coming perilously close to the end of the alphabet, although there are still a few good years perhaps waiting for Kinsey to solve mysteries. I just hope they will all be as good as the remainder of the alphabet has proved to be.

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, December 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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