You Owe Me a Murder
17-year-old Kim never expected to plot a murder. But that was before her boyfriend dumped her for another girl. Now, Kim’s stuck on a class trip to London with him and his new soulmate and she can’t help wishing he was a little bit dead, even if she’d never really do that.
But when Kim meets Nicki, a stranger on the plane who’s more than willing to listen to Kim’s woes, things start to look up. Nicki's got a great sense of humor, and when she jokes about swapping murders, Kim plays along—that is, until Kim’s ex-boyfriend mysteriously dies.
Blackmailed by Nicki to fulfill her end of the deal, Kim will have to commit a murder or take the fall for one.
*Alex has light brown skin
*Tasha is Black
Warning: graphic descriptions of both human and animal corpses.
WHAT I LOVED:
Our main character Kim is a little bit obsessive and a little bit of a liar. Both those qualities are why she's going on a two-week study abroad trip that includes her ex Connor. He's the kind of guy who circulates revenge porn of his exes and treated Kim as a hookup partner when she thought she was his girlfriend, so he's not a great guy. A list she makes while drunk with a charismatic British girl named Nicki becomes the catalyst for everything: Connor's death by train, Nicki's demand that Kim return the favor by murdering someone of Nicki's choice, and the many lies Kim tells out of fear of the truth's consequences.
Kim is a fascinating character with layered psychology, so it's no wonder Nicki targeted her in Kim's moment of vulnerability. You could write an entire character study on how her mom being a well-known mommy blogger for longer than Kim has been alive relates to Kim's struggle to tell the truth. Agency, being able to tell your own story--there's so much material here! Girl even tries to lie to herself and say poison is an easy way to go. This coming from a girl who knows science and chemistry very well.
WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
Though Kim's attempt to cover up Connor's murder with lies and then cover those with more lies makes sense when you think about who she is, it may not ease readers' frustrations at how long it takes Kim to try solutions readers think of much earlier than she does. Nicki's own lies become obvious when Kim stakes out her target's home, but she's so worked up about being blackmailed she doesn't pick up on any of the inconsistencies. You might just pull out your hair.
As the book goes on and Nicki appears more often to instruct Kim on murdering Nicki's mother, it seems Nicki and Kim are more alike than Kim wants to think about. The big difference between them these scorned, insistent liars? Kim has morals and boundaries. Nicki does not.
I prefer Cook's other thriller's With Malice and The Hanging Girl (recently re-published as One Lie Too Many), but You Owe Me a Murder is an undeniably engaging thriller even if it isn't my favorite of the author's sizable body of work.