Title: MURDER GONE MISSING, #2 in A Southern California Mystery series
Author: Lida Sideris
Newly minted lawyer Corrie Locke has taken a vow of abstinence. From PI work, that is. Until her best friend Michael finds his bully of a boss stabbed in the back after confronting him earlier that day. Michael panics, accidentally tampering with the crime scene...which could lead the cops to Michael instead of the real culprit. He turns to Corrie to track down the killer. She doesn't need much coaxing. Her late great PI dad taught her the ropes...and left her his cache of illegal weaponry. They return to the scene of the crime, but the body's missing. Racing against time, Corrie dredges a prestigious Los Angeles college in pursuit of clues. All she finds are false leads. Armed with attitude and romantic feelings toward Michael, Corrie dives into a school of suspects to find the slippery fugitive. Will she clear Michael's name before he's arrested for murder?
A light tapping sound, faint at first, grew louder. Closer. Footsteps. Someone was on the driveway. My mind fumbled over excuses for being on the balcony this time of night, but I didn’t need any. The taps faded.
Before I could stand, they grew loud again. And faster. They stopped close by. I held my breath. The gate to the trash enclosure creaked open. Months had gone by without my doing anything remotely resembling PI work…until tonight. What were the odds a burglar would strike and use my means of entry?
I heard mumblings, and a male voice spitting out a rush of words. “Pick up, pick up. Where are you?” A whisper rattled my side of the night. Who was he calling? A cohort? I lifted my eyes. I spied the intruder’s head and shoulders in the enclosure. Dark waves of hair bristled in random directions. The light of his smart phone made his profile glow. I recognized the ski-slopey nose and jumped to my feet.
“Michael,” I whispered.
He turned abruptly, dropped his phone, and stumbled, sending a trashcan crashing to the ground. The light turned on in the house next door. A window slid open. Michael ducked and so did I. A moment later, meows howled from the trash area, breaking the silence. I stifled a snicker. Michael did a fine impression of a soulful cat. Throaty meows grew louder, followed by a final meow at a higher pitch. The window slammed shut and the room went dark. We got to our feet at the same time.
“Don’t you want to finish your song?” I asked.
“I can’t remember the rest of the words.” He stared at me, hazel eyes open wide. His breath escaped in short bursts. “I’ve been calling you all day, Corrie. Why are you sneaking around your mom’s house?”
“I could ask you the same.” In my case, it kept my breaking and entering skills from getting rusty. And she had something I needed. Something she didn’t need to know about. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you. Everywhere. I went to your place. Called your office. Your cell. You didn’t answer.”
“It’s on mute,” I said.
We spoke in fast whispers, playing catch-up to make sense of this odd rendezvous. Michael and I had been best friends since junior high. We’d spent a lot of quality time together lately, solving a homicide, but I hadn’t heard from him in days.
“Don’t you ever keep the ringer on? What if there’s an emergency? Like now.”
“You okay?” I asked him.
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Lida Sideris’ first stint after law school was a newbie lawyer’s dream: working as an entertainment attorney for a film studio…kind of like heroine, Corrie Locke. Unlike Corrie, Lida has never been blackmailed, never investigated a suspicious death, an alien encounter, a catnapping, a missing corpse or been involved in a low-speed car chase. Lida lives in the northern tip of Southern California with her family, her rescue dogs and a flock of uppity chickens. She was one of two national winners of the Helen McCloy/Mystery Writers of America scholarship award for her first book.
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