Grafton is known for her mystery series featuring Kinsey Millhone, a private detective who works in the fictional town of Santa Teresa, which resembles Santa Barbara. Every year or two since the mid 1980s, Grafton has published another adventure of the 30-ish, tough, and vulnerable Kinsey. Some people call Grafton the alphabet mystery author. Her first book is called A is for Alibi, her second B is for Burglar, and so on. Four more titles and she'll be out of letters. I wonder if by letter Z that will be the end of Millhone. I hope not.
In U is for Undertow, a young man hires Kinsey to check out the truth of his memory. When he was six years old he came across two guys burying something in the woods. He thinks that what he saw was them burying the body of the four-year old neighborhood girl who had been kidnapped. The problem is that his family thinks he is unreliable. Grafton weaves the story back and forth between the past (mid 1960s) and the present (1988).
There is a secondary story going on and that is Kinsey's unweaving of her personal mystery. Kinsey was four or five when her parents were killed in a car crash. Raised by her mother's sister, Kinsey did not know she had any other relatives until a few years. Cousins, aunties, and a grandmother have been trying to reunite with her, but Kinsey has put up a wall. She is angry that they never tried to get in touch with until her 30s.
I haven't read a Kinsey tale since either N is for Noose or O is for Outlaw, which was about 10 years ago. Grafton is still a master storyteller, spinning her story tightly. You, the reader, are right there with Kinsey, as well as with the author, trying to make all the loose ends of the mystery fit. I like how Kinsey has matured since the last time I read her adventures. She's still the matter-of-fact gumshoe who is very thorough in her job; but she's become less brittle about life and more open at accepting the humanity of people, and essentially herself.
Reading U is for Undertow was a great way to spend a Sunday.