Gone Missin’ is the second installment in Peggy O’Neal Peden’s Nashville mystery series. While her debut, Your Killin’ Heart, centered on the city’s music scene, Gone Missin’ focuses on Nashville’s old money society. This is the world of mansions, private schools, nannies, country clubs, and charity balls — a world where regular people should never get a peek at what goes on behind closed doors.
Detective Sam Davis and travel agent Campbell Hale return in Gone Missin’, and as the title suggests, their challenge this time is a missing person: namely, Campbell’s longtime client Bitsy Carter. Bitsy is a woman of privilege, a debutante ball chair who “might look a bit more mature than the girls in white gowns this year, but no less perfect.”
Campbell, the book’s narrator, is not surprised when Bitsy decides to temporarily escape Nashville for sunny Mexico: “It was just like Bitsy to pack up and head for Zihuatanejo when Nashville went gray in February.” However, she is surprised that Bitsy didn’t follow her usual routine of making an appointment with Campbell and having lunch after arranging her itinerary. Instead, she just booked over the phone with another agent. Two weeks later, Campbell is even more surprised when the police show up to ask questions. No one has seen Bitsy since the day she checked in at the resort.
Everything is done to find Bitsy. Her family’s prominence makes sure the police give the case top priority, and her father hires a private investigator to go to Mexico. None of this prevents Campbell from mounting her own campaign; after all, she and Bitsy are friends. Campbell knows her children, has been to her house, and owns a piece of Bitsy’s artwork. She notices details the police miss, a fact that consistently annoys Sam Davis, as he and Campbell try to negotiate a possible romance. From Nashville to Mexico and back again, the duo face frustration after frustration as clues point in different directions.
Readers may also be frustrated with Campbell’s rash actions that can put her in danger, but she’s an entertaining character whose adventures will leave Peden’s fans hoping the author takes on further aspects of Nashville life.
Faye Jones, dean of learning resources at Nashville State Community College, writes the Jolly Librarian blog for the college’s Mayfield Library. She earned her doctorate in 19th-century literature at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
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