I didn’t read the first installment in Lida Sideris’s Southern California Mystery Series, Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters, and that may have influenced my experience of her second effort, Murder Gone Missing. I enjoy a well-told mystery, and, being a native Californian, I was intrigued by its Southland setting.
An entertainment attorney by training but private investigator by inclination and perhaps by genetic predisposition (her father was a renowned PI), sassy female protagonist Corrie Locke is drawn into a case when her best friend, Michael, becomes the prime suspect in the murder of his boss. The riddle begins when Corrie and Michael return to the scene of the crime and find the body missing. With this essential element in place, we follow Corrie as she sniffs out clues and tracks down leads with the help of her sidekick, Veera. Other characters enter the story, some with motives of their own, but the problem for me was that too many of these other characters felt one-dimensional. Corrie’s deceased father, a presence in the story if not an actual character, struck me as more interesting than Michael or Michael’s friend, James.
Ultimately, I found Murder Gone Missing disappointing because the writing is often clumsy, stalling the story’s momentum rather than propelling it forward; and with the exception of Corrie, the dialogue fails to reveal and individualize the characters. It’s never a good sign when I catch myself editing while I’m reading. Had the execution of this mystery been equal to its conception, Murder Gone Missing might have worked.