MISSING 411 presents itself as an examination of bizarre missing persons cases. More often than not, they’ve been overlooked for reasons ranging from a genuine lack of SAR (search and rescue) expertise and manpower, the National Parks Service intentionally covering up crimes, or the stories being so unbelievable that they’re dismissed outright by authorities. Each book in the series concentrates on a different geological location, with the content itself further divided into different “clusters” of similar cases. Most of the cases involve unexplained deaths or disappearances, but there are quite a few stories involving survivors, too.
Before writing MISSING 411, David Paulides was most well-known for trying to discover Sasquatch, and it shows in his writing. To his credit, he doesn’t try to push any one explanation for the varied disappearances without valid proof, and he spends far more time criticizing the NPS and SAR for bungling cases than anything else. Nonetheless, he’s thoroughly convinced that multi-generational predators are responsible for every death and disappearance in the wild, even if he doesn’t know who or what they are. Is it berry-fixated serial killers or is it Bigfoot? The world will never know!
Throughout the book, Paulides tries to connect primary evidence and firsthand accounts in each missing person “cluster” to undercover any similar patterns between them. It leads directly to the main problem in his writing: namely, Paulides’ conclusions are amateurish and bizarre. Each “cluster” is treated as if there’s one bad guy with a definitive modus operandi, similar to how urban abductions are sometimes investigated. He doesn’t understand how extreme exposure, disorientation, delirium, and fear can affect someone, especially in cases involving children. Case in point, Paulides looks at textbook descriptions of hypothermia at least ten times, only to come to the conclusion that the cases are incomprehensible. He then spends the rest of his time arguing schematics of official statements, such as the precise wording of a coroner, usually by asking dumb “but what REALLY happened?” -esque questions with no answers.
If the reader ignores Paulides’ personal conclusions and opinions, there’s little else to keep anyone’s interest. As a self-published venture, it’s not particularly well-written, organized, or edited. Most of the cases are variations of “someone wanders off a trail and isn’t found for a long time,” but a handful are genuinely baffling with interesting trivia sprinkled throughout. Someone interested in real life mysteries might gleam some enjoyment from the book, but I hardly recommend it.