Expendable (Matti James Mysteries #4)


Matti James is a facial reconstructionist in Las Vegas, Nevada, where there is never a boring day at the office.  She has more than enough drama going on in the coroner's office already when a skull is found with a spike through it.  The plot revolves around Matti in the modern day world of Las Vegas, but with murder, secret spies, a mob boss and some social awareness mixed in and nuclear disaster added for good measure. There are various characters that reappear here from previous installments in the Matti James Mysteries series; their sarcastic, witty banter gives relief from the more serious stuff happening in the book.  

Ms. Unger takes a huge bite of storyline for this book and delivers by performing a juggling act with the various threads running through the book, including raising awareness of social issues/protests, international politics, and the human story behind the events at Chernobyl, Ukraine.  The deep connection the story attempts to make between the disaster of Chernobyl and the generations of people it has affected skates right along the border of believable.  The many plots are interesting and deeply intertwined, forcing those page turns to get to the end to find the answers. The series of events taking place to provide the lessons got very convoluted, making it hard to read through.  The book takes on many relevant issues to impart wisdom, yet loses the impact due to the amount of subplots.  Without all that "busy-ness" Matti finds romance and solves the main mystery while shedding light on all other subplots in the novel. As far as mysteries go, this one is pretty good! 

Laura Dinsdale