Monday, June 28, 2010

Sue Grafton: U is for Undertow

Wasn't I lucky last library visit, getting so many olden goldie favourites that I hadn't read? Janet Evanovich, Kathy Reichs, and now Sue Grafton. This one has the story set in both the present, in a first person Kinsey narrative, and in the past, from different third person views. Grafton has started to do this more frequently in the recent books. It does work well, making for more varied reading, the opportunity to delve deeper into fringe characters, and just generally breaking that specific writing mold that I suppose it's all too easy to fall into, if your heroine is a single loner who solves cases by following up leads, one at a time.

Kinsey is approached by a young man who thinks that he, as a child, witnessed the burial of a little girl who was kidnapped a short while before. He's only just remembered the incident. Kinsey starts picking at the oh-so-few leads that there are, and the mere act of picking of course makes the original perpetrators nervous, and their stupidity solves the case in the end. The kidnapping takes place in 1968 and a lot of the story is about the conflicts between the new hippies and the old establishment so to speak, but surprisingly it's rather focused on the hippies being slackers, druggies and losers, with little sympathy for them. It could be that just these particular hippies are repulsive, but it does come across rather as being the whole movement. Perhaps it's an attempt to scale it down, to focus on the small town's reactions when they just get a drop of the whole idea. Although the fact that the old-fashioned fuddy-duddies are lovely people, especially compared to the dirty, rude, immoral hippies. Who aren't even good parents. A leetle bit odd.

I did like this book, but it could definitely have been neater. I liked how the ending was totally anti-climactic (I still have bad memories of the one that ended in a battle between Kinsey and someone else in heavy machinery - diggers? anyway, it was not good). Would have been nice to see what a great and ruthless editor could have done, plus less pressure to come up with a product. Hm.

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