You Owe Me by Kerry Costello is a crime thriller that asks you to hang out a bit while it prepares to get off the ground. At the 65% point, we meet Billy Ray and Valentina bound and gagged sitting in the back of a limousine going wherever the people who bound and gagged them wanted to go. From this point forward the story is interesting all the way to the conclusion with a few surprises on the way. So, does this mean the story is slow and boring before this point? Not really. There is a difficult to believe story beginning but once I accepted that, what follows are a couple of characters I took to be main characters disappear with a nonchalance that I found disturbing and surprising. Those two elements got me to Chapter Eight, the 13% point of the novel. To sum up, an enjoyable first part, a large interesting segment from Chapter Twenty-eight to the conclusion, and much wasteland to cover in between. The in-between story reads like a slow progression of logical events and therefore is completely predictable. I was happy to encounter Billy Ray and Valentina as (finally) captives.
Frankie Armstrong is our Main Character and, because we meet him as he is contemplating suicide, we are not sure if he will retain his status. Why is he thinking of suicide? (Nope, that would be a spoiler). It is not a spoiler, however, to note that he gets a call from a friend in the distant past asking for help in locating a missing nephew (Billy Ray, see above). This was a part I found hard to believe. Frankie is not a detective, a private investigator, or a retired cop. He is a businessman and partner in a security provider company, but he is an office man, not a trained field operative. This does not stop Frankie from terminating his impending and immediate suicide to agree that helping Joe is something he should do. After all, Joe had saved his life in the first Iraq War. Frankie, a Brit, abandons his life in England (which he was going to do anyway) grabs a minimal amount of clothing and no money, then departs for Florida. Friend Joe has bought tickets, arranged hotels, and will provide Frankie with any money needed. Once I accepted this unlikely beginning, I began a Google search to see if there were any available friends named Joe willing to do the same for me.
The reader next meets Joe and Frankie as the author sets up the mystery. Billy Ray is missing, and Joe wants to find him but is reluctant to tell Frankie the complete truth of the situation surrounding the disappearance. There are searches for sunken treasure and disappearances of several people. This is where to reveal too much would be a spoiler. Once the events in this part take place, we enter a wasteland until Chapter Twenty-eight. I was let down at this part because up to this point, the story promised a lot.
Readers can’t skip this in-between part, though. Later events wouldn’t make sense and the reader would spend time attempting to surmise the skipped over background material. So, while necessary, it wasn’t exciting. This novel is better than OK (Amazon 3 stars) but is not a four-star novel. It might be 3.8 but that kind of rating is unavailable so I will round up (grudgingly) to a four-star rating. It is available on Kindle Unlimited so I can’t complain about the price (free). This is almost a “cozy” mystery in that there is no offensive sexual or violent language used although some authors telling the story could justify its use.
For a comfortable weekend read, try this story while paying attention to the title, You Owe Me.