FINALITIES, A Mattie James mystery, published, copyright and written by M. A. R. Unger.

The story opens with Matti arriving at London’s Gatwick Airport accompanied by Joe Chauncey, her occasional love interest and former CIA operative with many clandestine operations in his past. She, as a forensic facial reconstruction expert of some reputation working from the coroner’s office in Las Vegas, has been assigned along with another from England, to attempt to discover the identities of 3 soldiers found recently in an unusual shallow grave in Oxfordshire near an old Roman site. The three are believed to be American soldiers from the 1940’s when Americans were there preparing for the invasion of France. Unfortunately, only some dog tags eventually were discovered and these were bundled together shoved down the throat of one corpse. For undisclosed but supposedly cogent reasons both countries’ defense departments desired all activity to be performed with as little attention as possible. Matti, in her apparently usual manner, digs deeper into the mystery beyond doing her assigned job and becomes an object to be destroyed because desperate family members must keep unsavory activity from being revealed. Action shifts between Oxsfordshire and Las Vegas, USA where members of the family now are wealthy film makers with few scruples and with connections to a powerful mob boss of Matti’s acquaintance now have become active players. Other prominent characters include a retired army major, Gregory Reynolds, along with Matti’s assumedly long-standing wealthy friend Linda and her ‘inbetweener’ friend Abby – the spirit of a dead person still not having left earth for the beyond. The plot eventually terminates in a satisfactory manner.

Discussion/Summary: This sixth book in this mystery series is a well-written, interesting story with a quite unusual plot and provision of details of some lesser known forensic investigative techniques. Helpful bits of information also are gained at most appropriate times from Matti’s ‘inbetweener’ friend Abby. Parenthetically, Abby’s help amusingly brings to mind an inclusion many years ago in a science journal that often included cartoons and other amusing bits. One was of a young researcher had placed a long complicated formula on the blackboard as solution to a difficult scientific problem. An older mentor, points to a section in parentheses that had been included in the center of the formula and says “I believe we need a little further explanation here.” The section pointed to read “here a miracle happens”.

5* Interesting and often amusing mystery suspense thriller.

The Seventh Guard: Destiny Expires

The Seventh Guard – Destiny Expires. This version of Paperback ISBN: 9781732450400 Copyright and written by Francis A. Halpin presents a fantasy sci/fi alien suspense tale in an e-book version.

The story centers around, Robert Lowden, who has only acquired his GED but appears to be extremely bright especially with computers. The only job he seems able to get is as a computer repairman at a local store selling electronics. He is able to retain the position as long as he does NOT converse with any of the store’s shoppers. He is rude to them completely lacking in social sense, never seems to be fully engaged but instead appears to live on the edge of reality. He has one friend, David, a well-educated individual on his way up the usual ladder to success and Jennifer, his similarly situated girlfriend, both of whom ‘see something of almost compelling interest’ in him. Robert becomes involved in numerous unusual and humorous as well as dangerous situations not the least of which is deciding a flashing light bulb in the store’s rest room is providing an alien code. He involves David with disastrous, but simultaneously rather amusing, results and the story gathers steam to advance to a most unusual, but logical conclusion.

Discussion: Entry into the story begins with a quote from Albert Einstein along with another by Stephen Hawking. Einstein: “Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect, as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” Hawking: “I have noticed that even those who assert that everything is predestined and that we can change nothing about it still look both ways before they cross the street.” Combined they very nicely set the tone of the book. It is thought producing, yet humorous in many contrasting ways. It is a suspenseful alien thriller/mystery, yet provides slow moving areas that editing could correct. In all, the author has provided a fascinating tale of secret codes existing in commonly occurring phenomena surrounding us that should provide thoughtful moments for the alien theory devotee. Definitely a 4*- 5* for such readers and probably for computer addicts. Regrettably somewhat less for others.

4-5* for alien theory devotees, computer addicts; somewhat less for others.