Tuesday, February 16, 2010

U is for Undertow (by Sue Grafton)*

I used to read the alphabet novels religiously and repeatedly, but I skipped a couple that looked dumb and got bad reviews. I decided to read this one because the reviews were pretty good, and I thought I'd take a chance on the audiobook.

The book itself, I did like. I would rather stick with Kinsey's point of view for the whole book rather than jumping around, but the other sections were well done and even when I didn't know how they were going to connect with the final mystery, were interesting on their own. Vaguely annoying: Grafton always uses at least one name that starts with whatever letter the book is. In this case, a family had the last name of Unruh. That name was so unlikely as to be annoying! A nitpick, I know. But the mystery itself was good, and Kinsey as the heroine continues to satisfy.

(I do have to say that there is quite a bit of filler, and some random sidebars that didn't really seem to fit in. But it was entertaining enough for the most part.)

My big complaint? I didn't like the narrator, Judy Kaye. She sounded like a really bitter Ellen Degeneres. The real problem was that every phrase seemed to be dripping with sarcasm. Even innocuous phrases like "Chapter 17." So it made Kinsey (and many of the other characters) less likeable than they should have been. I had to keep reminding myself, Kinsey isn't being bitchy and sarcastic to everyone she meets; it's the narrator's tone! So I was kind of sorry I hadn't just waited for the paperback.

Also on audiobook, you notice how unlikely some of the dialogue is. Like three characters use "net" as a verb, even though in real life, I don't think I've ever heard anyone use it. One character says "my proverbial ass is grass" in the middle of an argument. "My proverbial ass"! Someone else says, "I don't think the admonition applies if there's a serious crime involved.." and someone else constructs a sentence that starts something like: "Your plan, we can implement when..." On audio, you really notice clunky dialogue that probably would read fine on the page.

Anyway, these are nitpicks. Like I said, I don't recommend the audiobook, but the mystery itself was a fine return to form for Grafton.


Blogger Kymm said...

I actually have a friend named John Unruh! So it's not as unlikely as you might think!

9:18 PM  

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