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U Is for Undertow (Kinsey Millhone Mysteries) [Hardcover]

Sue Grafton
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Dec 2009 Kinsey Millhone Mysteries

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.  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?

Moving effortlessly between the 1980s and the 1960s, and changing points of view as Kinsey pursues witnesses whose accounts often clash. Gradually, listeners come to see how everything connects in this twisting, complex, surprise-filled thriller. And as always, at the beating heart of her fiction is Kinsey Millhone, a sharp-tongued, observant loner who never forgets that under the thin veneer of civility is a roiling dark side to the soul.

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 403 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (1 Dec 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039915597X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399155970
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 20.3 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,792,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sue Grafton has become one of the most popular mystery writers, both here and in the US. Born in Kentucky in 1940, the daughter of the mystery writer C. W. Grafton, she began her career as a TV scriptwriter before Kinsey Millhone and the 'Alphabet' series took off. She lives and writes in Montecito, California, and Louisville, Kentucky.

Product Description


"Makes me wish there were more than 26 letters at her disposal." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

In 1960s Santa Teresa, California, a child is kidnapped and never returned . . . When the case is reopened after twenty years, a man - Michael Sutton - contacts private detective Kinsey Millhone for help. He claims to have recalled a strange and disturbing memory which just might provide the key to the mystery. He may have stumbled across the kidnappers burying Mary Claire Fitzhugh’s body . . . But Michael’s account is indistinct –he was only six years old at the time of the kidnapping; and even members of his family try to discredit his evidence. But Kinsey is certain there is something vital within Michael’s recollections. And even when what is eventually unearthed isn’t what anyone expected, she can’t quite let go of the case. As Kinsey gradually brings to light the stories of the protagonists involved in the tragedy, from Country Club parents to their free-living, hippy children, the truth finally begins to emerge. And while stepping back into the past, Kinsey discovers more about her own history too . . . --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars U Is for Unexpected Events in a Dazzling Plot 13 Dec 2009
"Let destruction come upon him unexpectedly,
And let his net that he has hidden catch himself;
Into that very destruction let him fall." -- Psalm 35:8

Masterful Sue Grafton deftly handles three timeframes in this story of love and betrayal. The "present" is 1988, the mystery's past is found in the 1963 through 1967 period. Her own family's history is revealed for the period of the mid to late 1950s. The artful Grafton moves smoothly from one time to another, much in the way that our attention can shift rapidly from observation to memory and back again. Rarely does she let the current day intrude into the earlier time periods with inadvertent missteps. It's impressive.

Were you ever fascinated by watching carefully lined-up dominoes be rapidly toppled, one after another, after the first one in the sequence is tipped over? If so, you'll love this story. The plot is built around that device. One action or event triggers another, and another, and so on until no more dominoes are standing. It's the most difficult kind of plot to develop in a credible way, and Ms. Grafton carries it off very well indeed.

As the book opens, the local police have sent Michael Sutton over with a story about having seen as a child two men burying a mysterious bundle about the time when a little girl had been kidnapped (who was never found, even though the ransom was paid). Sutton is convinced that the two events have something in common and is willing to pay for a day of Kinsey Millhone's time to check it out. A lot of what he wants Kinsey to do he could do himself, so he's holding something back. With her usual doggedness, Kinsey makes fast work of the case and helps Sutton locate the site of the burial. What will they find?
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Up to her usual standard 16 Feb 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is another great book in this series and well up to Sue Grafton's usual standard. As always, there are red herrings along the way, but the conclusion is completely satisfying. I like the way Kinsey is so tough on the outside but hidden depths are proving her to be softer on the inside than she would like to accept...
Buy it, read it, love it and let's hope Sue makes it to Z.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars U is for Undertow - worth waiting for 19 Jan 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was pleased to reconnect with my friend Kinsey Milhone in 'U for Undertow'. Sue Grafton has created a community of people in these books that is totally believable and likeable. Each novel is as good as the last; the quality of the writing and plotting is top notch. I would recommend a newcomer to these books to do themselves a favour, buy the lot, and enjoy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Kinsey" fan! 6 Jan 2010
I am half-way through the latest Sue Grafton (I own all the previous ones too) and am finding it hugely entertaining, as usual. It is amazing she should have reached "U", but still has a few left which I hope will be forthcoming. She seems to limit herself to one a year, which makes sense.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another great kinsey book 29 Mar 2010
This was another great book in the Kinsey Milhone series. The idea of solving an old child murder,was interesting. Kinsey finds out more information about her family and this is linked with the case. No mention of her relationship with Cheyney although there is interaction with all the other characters, especially Henry and Rosie. Thoroughly enjoyed the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a book club book and considering it is something like 22 in the Kinsey series, comes with good pedigree. And in the main Sue Grafton delivers on our expectations. This is a very well written book, the characters are brilliantly defined and the perspective of first person interspersed with third person narrative worked very well.

The trouble was the story. There was very little of it. Grafton spent so much time giving the characters flesh and bones but did very little with them. Nothing shocking happens, major story points are clearly signalled, you feel intentionally, and there is very little in the way of violence. In fact, considering the nature of the story, it feels like she veers away from it deliberately.

Which built the impression as I worked through the pages that Grafton's target audience is some way older than her main character's 38 years.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointed 28 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
very disappointed, i knew the outcome and who was responsible mid way through having read the book still have unanswered questions.

why was sutton accused of lying about when he saw these guys digging.... a lot of time was taken up proving him to be a liar and yet it seems that he did see it, so was it the date that was incorrect....
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back on form and moving the back-story on nicely 15 Jan 2010
By Schneehase VINE VOICE
At last, Sue Grafton is back on form with this latest in the Kinsey Millhone series. I've read them all from A - U (so far) and felt that 'T' was the weakest one with the author dodging the issue of Kinsey's background. It was good to see that 'U' is a much tighter story, well woven between the time-lines and that the back-story has finally moved on and in an unexpected direction.
Although you could read this story on its own, I would certainly suggest reading them all from 'A' first.
One thing some other people may be able to help me with - was Henry right about the dog? I read the book twice very carefully and couldn't see if that bit was ever resolved.
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