Friday, December 24, 2010

Oh No, Sue Grafton is Getting to the End of the Alphabet!

Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone is a character that I feel like I actually know. I've read all of her alphabet series except for "T" so when I saw "U" at a book sale, I grabbed it - right out from under the nose of my friend who is also a Grafton fan. Of course, now that I've read it, I'll give it to her.

U is for Undertow is a little different than the rest. At first it's confusing to say the least. We're introduced to a family, then someone else, then someone else, and we can't see how all these people could possibly interconnect. From there the story gets more and more mystifying until slowly, gradually we begin to realize, son of a gun, these people are all somewhat involved in the same crime - some victims, some innocent bystanders, some bad guys - and it's a lot of fun figuring how just how this is all sorted out.

As usual Kinsey meets an assortment of almost recognizable characters, people like you run into in your own town. I think that's why I'm so comfortable with this series. Hardly anyone is really outlandish; they're people you can relate to or at least are a little familiar. My favorites, and probably yours too, are her landlord Henry who is now (1988) in his late 80s and Rosie the Hungarian restaurant owner who tells Kinsey what to eat. Although Kinsey is such a loner, I don't know what she'd do without Henry and Rosie.

Kinsey also learns more about her family in this book. Since she never knew she had family until four years earlier and is not at all sure she wants to know about them, this presents the usual trauma.

Since the story is set in 1988, Kinsey does her research in the library and by knocking on doors, and people aren't carrying cell phones and laptops. I like that facet of these stories. She is an old-fashioned detective which makes her work a little more instinctive and more difficult. She uses her people skills to the max digging up a cold case.

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