About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

“U” is for Undertow by Sue Grafton

53. – 613.) “U” is for Undertow by Sue Grafton – Kinsey Milhone is having a quiet spring when Michael Sutton walks through the door and wants her to investigate what he believes was the burial of a young girl, Mary Claire Fitzhugh, who was kidnapped 21 years earlier in the summer of 1967.

Without any pressing commitments Kinsey takes on the investigation and seeks out information to identify the alleged location of the burial. She is far from confident of the information given by her client who has recalled the incident as a repressed memory.

Patiently she assembles facts and eventually, with her help, Sutton comes up with a specific location. The police descend upon the site in the words of a wealthy neighbourhood. When the body of a dog is found police interest ceases.

Kinsey, one of the most dogged sleuths in crime fiction, refuses to close the file. She follows slender threads of information. Who else would work diligently to identify the buried dog?

The book has three interlocking stories. Foremost is Kinsey’s investigation. Second is the history of the events of 1967. Third is the story of the contemporary lives of the killers. Grafton does an excellent job of tying together the plot.

In her personal life Kinsey continues her wary re-connection with Grand, the matriarch, and other members of the Kinsey family.

While well plotted the book never took off for me. The investigation is a steady slog to the solution. I suspect I was influenced by a collection of characters who are unlikeable. Kinsey’s personal life had little sparkle. It is long series with “U” being the 21st book. The last really great book in the series for me was “P”. I will read “V” but it will mainly be because I have read the whole series. Paperback. (Oct. 1/11)


  1. Bill - Thanks for this thoughtful review. I'm sorry to hear that U is for Undertow didn't really sparkle for you. You make an interesting point that unlikeable characters can really affect whether a reader becomes absorbed in a novel. I hope you'll find "V" more engaging.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Because of all the good books in the series I remain hopeful for "V".

  3. Teena: Thanks for commenting. I am glad you enjoyed the book. I have liked the series for 20 years.

  4. I rather liked this one compared with the previous two (I've been reading the whole series as it comes out, it has had its ups and downs but is pretty reliable on the whole). However, I can't remember all the details now but I think the solution to the mystery did not in the end hang together properly - so in that sense it was not great for me but I did like those hippy retrospectives!

  5. Maxine: Thanks for commenting. I found the solution satisfactory. The inevitability of the conclusion did not strengthen the plot. I was far far away from a hippy in the 1960's