Saturday 24 February 2018

Book ~ "U is for Undertow" (2009) Sue Grafton

From Goodreads ~ It's April 1988, a month before Kinsey Millhone's thirty-eighth birthday, and she's alone in her office catching up on paperwork when a young man arrives unannounced. He has a preppy air about him and looks as if he'd be carded if he tried to buy a beer but Michael Sutton is twenty-seven, an unemployed college dropout. 

More than two decades ago, a four-year-old girl disappeared and a recent newspaper story about her kidnapping has triggered a flood of memories. Sutton now believes he stumbled on her lonely burial and could identify the killers if he saw them again. He wants Kinsey's help in locating the grave and finding the men. It's way more than a long shot but he's persistent and willing to pay cash up front. Reluctantly, Kinsey agrees to give him one day of her time.

But it isn't long before she discovers Sutton has an uneasy relationship with the truth. In essence, he's the boy who cried wolf. Is his story true or simply one more in a long line of fabrications?

It's April 1988 and Kinsey Millhone is a private detective in Santa Teresa, CA, who will soon be 38 years old.  She has been hired by Michael Sutton to investigate a memory that he claims to have recovered of two people burying a body in the woods in 1967 when he was six years old (they told him they were pirates looking for treasure).  Michael suspects it's has something to do with the famous unsolved kidnapping of a four-year-old named Mary Claire.  The kidnappers had requested a ransom but never picked up the money after police were called and she was never found.

Rain, the four-year-old granddaughter/adopted daughter of the couple who owned the land where Michael saw the "pirates", had also been kidnapped in a similar way just before Mary Claire.  She was returned unharmed, though, after her parents paid a ransom using marked bills, which never turned up.

Meanwhile as Kinsey is investigating Mary Claire's disappearance, her own past is becoming present for her.  Kinsey is invited to a family event and she doesn't want to go as she feels her family had abandoned her and her Aunt Gin after her parents had died when she was young.  She discovers, though, that this isn't the case and that her grandmother had actually tried to get custody of her at that time.

I enjoyed this story.  It bounces back and forth between 1988 and 1967.  It's written in first person perspective in Kinsey's voice but also in third person perspective in various voices depending on where the action was.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

This is the twenty-first in the "alphabet series" featuring Kinsey Millhone.  Though it is part of a series, it works as a stand alone.  I discovered this series in the mid-1990s and have read them all.  I started rereading them last year.  With the author's recent death, Y is for Yesterday will be the end of the series.

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