Book Review: U Is For Undertow by Sue Grafton

Book Review: U Is For Undertow by Sue Grafton

Crystal Lake : IL : USA | Jun 21, 2010 at 8:55 PM PDT
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The latest installment in the alphabet mystery series takes us back and forth in time, trying to solve a couple decades old mystery. Flower children, free love, and family issues lie at the heart of this exploration of the family dynamic and the fragileness of truth versus point of view.

It all starts with a young man named Michael Sutton. A victim of a predatory child therapist when he was younger, Michael is now on a self-imposed mission to atone for the past by alerting the authorities of memories that surfaced when he read an article on the anniversary of a kidnapped child who was never found. Something in the article strikes a chord within Michael, and he swears to anyone that will listen that he may have seen the kidnappers when he was six.

Michael goes to the police with his story, and the sympathetic officer he speaks to tells him that unless he can come up with some hard evidence, they cannot begin to reopen this cold case. Cheney, the officer Michael speaks with, passes him along to Kinsey, hoping that at least she will find out if there is any validity to his story.

Kinsey’s search for the truth on Michael’s behalf leads her on a twisting tale that jumps back to the 1960s, following the twisted memories of a child into the privileged world of the nouveau riche. Michael helps Kinsey find the burial site of his memories, where he met some “pirates” burying treasure when he was six. He now believes that he had seen them burying the kidnapped girl.

At the same time, Kinsey is going through a little retrospective of her own, starting with an invitation to a family celebration. She has not had much of a connection to her blood kin on her mom’s side, being raised after her parents’ death by a maiden aunt that didn’t always see eye to eye with her own mother. Kinsey’s trip into her own past holds more revelations than she might have thought existed.

I, for one, am going to be very sorry to see this series end, even if it is down the road just a bit. The artistry that Grafton weaves into her stories grants the reader not only a very visual interpretation of the tale, but also a very deep connection to the characters, and that is very hard to come by these days with so many cheaply manufactured tales competing for the readers’ attention. Grafton is a mistress of her craft, hands down, and Undertow is no exception.

KateYork is based in Elgin, Illinois, United States of America, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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