Monday, January 17, 2011

Read-alike Guides - U is for Undertow

If you liked U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton, you might enjoy one of these books:

Backhand by Liza Cody
For an English slant, try the Anna Lee Mysteries, featuring another loner P.I. and feminist. Ex-cop Lee, who works for a British security firm, is often involved in more violent cases than Millhone, Here, Lee zips from London to the Florida Keys in search of missing designer clothing, and she teams up with a handsome American at an exclusive tennis club to solve a murder.

Clean Break by Val McDermid
Kate Brannigan, English kick-boxer and Rudyard Kipling fan, is another tough yet funny detective who appears in fast-paced mysteries with snappy dialogue and relatable characters. In this outing, Brannigan chases down art thieves (with possible mob involvement) in Italy while unraveling a nasty case of product tampering in her homeland.

Death at the Wheel by Kate Flora
When smart, independent, sharp-tongued series detective Thea Kozak is introduced to a sweet young widow whose husband died in a horrific accident at a local race track, she becomes sucked into the accident-turned-murder investigation. Flora’s well-drawn characters, snappy dialogue, and breakneck pace will thrill Grafton fans.

Edwin of the Iron Shoes by Marcia Muller
Muller’s series featuring tough and resourceful but vulnerable P.I. Sharon McCone is a must read. They feature a similar hard edge, some humor, investigative details, and more recently, a romantic interest. In the first, Sharon is at odds with the San Francisco Police Dept. but is determined to stay on the case of a murdered small-time antique dealer.

Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky
Fans of gritty, urban detective stories may like Paretsky’s heroine, V. I. Warshawski, though be warned that she writes with a more feminist slant and graphic violence than Grafton does. On V.I.’s first outing, the job she is hired to do puts her up against the worst of Chicago's white-collar criminals in a fight to save an innocent young girl’s life.

Liberty Falling by Nevada Barr
Loner and National Park Service Ranger Anna Pigeon is posted to parks around the country. In addition to braving the dangers associated with her job, Pigeon must confront her own personal demons, and her tough exterior but inner vulnerability make her a good match for Millhone. In Liberty Falling, Pigeon visits her ill sister and investigates a murder on Ellis Island.

Lie Down with the Devil by Linda Barnes
In her latest outing, Boston private detective Carlotta Carlyle’s life is becoming complicated as she investigates a secret murder indictment against her fiancĂ©, Sam Gianelli, as well as the killing of her most recent client, a nervous bride-to-be. Carlotta is a smart, sassy, fearless witty woman.

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
Californian Chandler is the classic precursor to today’s hard-boiled mysteries. Here, series detective Philip Marlowe catches a case involving a war-scarred drunk and his nymphomaniac wife. A psychotic gangster's on his trail, he's in trouble with the cops, and corpses are piling up. This is an evocative look at the glamour and underside of 1950s LA.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
This series, although lighter in tone than Grafton’s, also features a sassy heroine known for her smart-mouth dialogue. In the first title, Stephanie Plum—out of work and money—becomes a bounty hunter, and her first assignment is to track down a former vice cop on the run for murder. Grafton fans will love the outstanding characters and riveting plot.

Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris
Lily Bard has a cleaning business in Shakespeare, Arkansas, One night she discovers the body of her landlord in a garbage bag. An unlikely detective, she sets out to clear her name when she becomes a suspect. Much of the darker tone in this series comes from Lily’s grim past. A colorful cast characters in the form of small town inhabitants should appeal to Grafton’s readers.

Also by Sue Grafton:

A is for Alibi
In the book that started it all, womanizing divorce lawyer Laurence Fife was poisoned and second wife Nikki was convicted. When Nikki gets out of jail, she hires private detective Kinsey Millhone to find the real killer. “A” is for Alibi provides a wonderful introduction to Kinsey, a great series heroine who is tough, funny but not too cute, and liberated but not too loud about it.

O is for Outlaw
More than halfway through the alphabet, Kinsey is haunted by her past when an encounter with her first husband and a mysterious undelivered letter reveal new information about an old unsolved murder. She soon finds herself investigating her ex-husband’s recent and “accidental” death. Grafton adds depth to this outing through unexpected details of Kinsey's past.

Writing Mysteries
In this handbook written by the Mystery Writers of America and edited by Sue Grafton, a veritable who’s who of the mystery writing elite contemplate every aspect of penning a mystery—research, outlines, vivid villains, creating a series hero, characterization, amateur sleuths, convincing dialogue, depiction of violence, specialty genres, overcoming writer’s block, and more!

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