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Reviewed by Cecelia Hopkins for Readers' Favorite
It Had to Be You by Mike Owens begins as Phil succumbs to lawnmower envy and buys an extravagant machine. Dropping by the local bar on the way home, he accidentally jostles a charity collector. The woman explodes into action, leaving Phil charged with assault. Narrowly escaping jail, Phil purchases a motorhome and abandons his wife and step-daughter. Passing through Oklahoma, near the small town of Kingfisher, his aimless road trip is interrupted by a scantily clad hitchhiker. The mystery girl takes Phil to a campground and introduces him to her uncle. Phil ceases to drift and begins to fall in love. When Sy Birch is shot, he leaves Phil his property, but there is another unexplained death and Phil lands in jail, wondering whether Dani set him up. Finally, the conspirators overplay their hands, leaving the way open for a resolution.
It Had to Be You by Mike Owens combines wry humor with suspense as the bemused protagonist unleashes a chain of events that appear foreordained. I was attracted to the story by the hint of the paranormal and continued to read because of the mystery and suspense. I enjoyed the way the author kept the reader guessing whether the small town and bequest were for real, and who the main character could really trust. The narrative helped me really identify with Phil and experience something similar to his confusion as events unfolded. I recommend It Had to Be You by Mike Owens to readers of cozy mysteries because it successfully delivers a shiver as it progresses toward a satisfactory ending.