Past Imperfections: M.A.R. Unger
Within this world there are people who strive for perfection and must find a way to hide any flaws. Within this world some do this by getting plastic surgery, others hide it by not allowing others to see what makes them less than perfect. When someone finds themselves at a crossroads in their career and wants to create another life or pretend that they are no longer alive what happens is a series of events that spirals out of control and the end result will be more than tragic. The novel begins with an unusual encounter when a woman in disguise enters the office of the Foothill Canyon Detective Agency asking for the investigator on call to look into who might be trying to kill her. But, just who is this mysterious person and what are her real motives for wanting to hire our lead character?
Matti James is smart, clever, feisty and definitely impetus and will stop at nothing until she gets the answers she wants. The client that entered her office claimed to be the famous singer and actress Layla Bourne but in disguise. Thinking no one would know its her she entered the office, gave Matti her demands as to what she wants and left without a single thought to giving her anyway to contact her. Layla would not be on her top ten hit parade for clients and her attitude is one that most people would rather not deal with. Pompous, rude to a fault and thinking she is the most important person on this planet she left her mark but not in a positive way.
However, this arrangement would lead to danger, murder, intrigue and blackmail before all is said and done. However, there’s an extra-added flair to this novel as Matti has what you call a spirit or inbetweener who morphs at will and adds her spirit sense hoping to help Matti solve her cases and join in the fun. Things start to heat up real fast as one little boy that lives next store named Lucky loves to escape his home through a secret passage that has yet to be closed up and while he causes his own problems for Matti we will meet the rest of the staff of her P.I. firm starting with the CEO Linda. As Matti was telling Linda about their new client she burst her bubble by saying that Layla was reported dead in a plane crash and the news reported that it was definitely her remains.
Here is where it gets dicey when Matti’s ex-boyfriend Joe Chauncey shows up she has mixed feelings about him and his role in this case is one that he is not about to be open and honest about at this time. Trying to convince her to work with him and deal with his presence takes her back a few steps and the end result might not be what she hopes for. Just as things start to come to light Abby morphs adds some chaos and the police come into play. Tricia, Linda and Kate are the other members of the team as Sherry defected to another firm with a hot guy that she could not resist leaving them with an open spot. Sunridge Security is where a man named Buzz Metzer works and he is now protecting Paul Langford the husband of the victim. Background checks, alliances and the author reveals information about some shady characters that the husband is known to associate with and the bodies are about to begin to fall. Investigating Layla, Matti learns about a liaison she has with the man who services her plane and when he winds up dead well maybe it’s not wise to be around Layla.
Matti’s real job is as a forensic artist who can reconstruct a skull and bring the victim to life. When she learns that this jet was supposed to have five passengers but six are dead just what is going on and who is victim six? Two women’s bodies were recovered but badly charred. One is supposed to be Layla and the other the sixth and unknown person. Added in the police and Matti want to know why her husband did not go along with her on this trip and what he ha to gain as a result of her death.
As the author reveals more about Layla we begin to wonder just what her motives really are, just who she is working with and why Joe was so interested in helping her. Langford has some shady friends two that are thugs and with the help of co-worker Jack Wagner they uncovered a piece of jewelry from the plane and linked it to Layla. Eddie Bartolone is Paul’s backer so why does his number come up on her phone. When this person claiming to be Layla calls again things really get out of control and you begin to wonder just what she is really up to and why.
Someone wants Buzz out of the way and when he is attacked and another body is found things move in a different direction and we learn more about the crash, the fact that certain adjustments were made to the dashboard and the wrong color tape used plus the power wash cancelled what was the real agenda and why six deaths? Working with the police we meet a detective named Tom who seems attracted to Matti but that is not the main thrust of the story although he might be a better choice than Joe.
While investigating Layla we learn more about her past and another inbetweener comes into play a child named Tim Tim who Lucky the little boy from next store seems to be able to see. When her office is ransacked and broken into she has Mike Kearny to thank for her escape route and the danger in this case and to solve it is increased. Matti seems at home working with the police, making up new identities for her, Joe and others when trying to gain access into different places and with the help of Dr. Acosta the coroner information filters in and a startling revelation is revealed. Her office ransacked, scared and then thinking that the accident might have been sabotage or murder adds to the plot and Matti now realizes that she might become a target too. When the identities of the two pilots are revealed, the original . When the reconstructions begin and the face of the first is revealed just who does it belong to? Layla Bourne who is she really and why does someone refer to her by another name?
Detective Kip Edwards came to see her along with Detective Dave Friedman. Why did Layla leave her jag unattended? Why did she change cars and when Matti put a tracking device on the car why couldn’t they locate her. Realizing that something was wrong and getting a frantic call from her the events spiral out of control, Paul is arrested and the documents that he burned and in question reveal a news article that might bring it all together. Just what did her husband have on her? Why did he have a strong hold on her and why did Layla feel the urge to fool around with so many who wind up dead? Set ups, ambushed, lied to and a pilot who never saw it coming and the end result will take everyone back to where it all began and the truth behind Layla’s past. Just who winds up dead in the crash and why? What has she kept a secret all these years and when the links are in place and the truth one of the inbetweeners is told and the end result comes to pass you just won’t believe what happens to both Layla and Matti. Who makes it to the top? Who pays the ultimate price and whose Past Imperfections are revealed? Characters right out of a Jessica Fletcher episode or even Mystery Theater as the author creates suspense, intrigue and murder in a unique way. Will Abby remain as Matti’s conscience and guide? What ‘s next for her and what about her relationship with Joe or will she see someone right in front of her and clear away the fog and see him more clearly?
One interesting novel with humor, sarcasm, deceit, lies, betrayals and a client whose hidden agenda just might come back and haunt her in the present. Past Imperfections: We all have them just how well can we hide them from being seen.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine