Friday, January 22, 2010

Review: U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton

U is for Undertow (Kinsey Millhone Mystery)

First of all, I must say that I've been a fan of Sue Grafton's alphabet series since the early 90's when a coworker recommended them. I caught up quickly and I enjoyed most of the books in the series. I followed the series, reading every book and even met Sue Grafton at a book signing. Let's face it, it has to be tough to write a series of books and to be consistent and keep things interesting for every reader. Some books are going to be better than others and I have found that I enjoyed the earlier books in the series more than the recent ones.

In U is for Undertow, Kinsey Milhone, the main character, is a private investigator who is investigating a cold case in 1988. The case that she is investigating relates to the death of a child that occured in the 1960's. The chapters alternate between the present and the past and it is told in different viewpoints which was confusing for me at first. It felt choppy and the story didn't flow smoothly. It was hard to follow but then as I continued to read on I adjusted to the style as I got familiar with the characters. I just didn't find the story that interesting and the ending was a bit too predictable.

There was a tie in to Kinsey's family and past history which was interesting but it took the story down another path that seemed to oversaturate the story. I just wasn't pulled into the story as I have been in past books and I wanted to be pulled into the comfort of Kinsey's world. She lives in the late 80's without the technology we have cell phones, computers, GPS, caller i.d., no electronic devices except access to a fax machine at another office. She would mainly use microfiche and reverse directories  to do research. This just isn't holding my interest as much as it has in the past. It almost seems that the series is in slow motion and I'd like to see Kinsey speed up closer to the present. I don't think that is Sue Grafton's intention so I doubt that will happen and it is the style of the series. It's just not working so well for me anymore. I hate to admit this, it's sad as I have a soft spot in my heart for this series and the author. I haven't given up, my heart just isn't into the series as it was before. I am on Sue's personal mailing list and I look forward to her Christmas photo card yearly and promotional material about the next book coming out. Sue has been very creative over the years in sending out promotional material that relates to the books in the series.  I have saved all of the cards and promotional items for each book and should post about the collection that I have..someday. Is anyone  interested?

Check out Sue Grafton's Website, here.

You can read an excerpt from U is for Undertow, here.

Disclosure: Library copy. I am an Amazon Associate.


  1. I discovered this series when we lived in France and have been a devoted fan ever since. I'm sorry to see this one didn't live up to the others.

  2. I have not read any of this series, but I've had plenty of experience with a favorite series losing steam. Hopefully the next one will be back to form.

  3. I can't remember which one I stopped reading...but I do know that I loved them and gobbled them up as fast as she could write them!! Yes, I'm interested in seeing the cards you received from her!!!

  4. I love Sue Grafton. I am really hoping the best for this one. I do agree and enjoyed her earlier work more than the most recent, but I just love Kinsey. Thanks for your review.

  5. I think the earlier ones in this series were much better, too. It's the not the setting that's paled on me--I was at the peak of my career in the 80s and life (and business) were that non-automated (although we certainly didn't think so at the time, just we don't now - and will look back in 20 years and shake our heads at how technologically backward we were). It was more the edge that Kinsey developed. Tougher. Darker.

    BUT - I'd love to see your collection. Sue Grafton is still an amazing author & contributor to modern mystery lit.

  6. I'm not a big series reader to begin with but I don't think I'd enjoy a series this long. I would get sick of the style fast. Even the series that I do read, I space out the books by months or even years.


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