So excited to kick off the blog tour for H.G. McKinnis’ A JUSTIFIED BITCH.
It takes a guilty bastard to make a justified bitch.
When a severed finger shows up on her doorstep in a seedy section of Las Vegas, Helen Taylor does not freak out. She’s already crazy, as evidenced by her junk-stuffed house and its ever-growing population of cats. There’s also Bobby, her long-dead husband. Helen talks to him regularly, and Bobby talks back.
The finger and the brutal murder it reveals are more than a hoarding cat lady with a phantom husband can ignore. Helen’s a suspect, and she ends up in jail. Summoned by the detective on the case, Helen’s sister Pat arrives from Phoenix with two teen-age boys in tow.
While Helen is AWOL from a mental facility, another gruesome murder is discovered. Pat, the boys, and the detective struggle to separate fact from insanity, but it takes power beyond the ordinary to bring the truth to light.
My Thoughts: 4.5/5 stars!
First of all, a big thanks to Imbrifex and Smith Publicity for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. Also, for the blog spot to kick off the tour!
A JUSTIFIED BITCH by H.G. McKinnis definitely grabbed my attention for two reasons: the title (how can you ignore that?) and the tagline – it takes a guilty bastard to make a justified bitch. Consider me instantly intrigued. I will say, this is a classic example of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. It does not do the book justice.
It all starts with a severed finger is found just a few feet away from the doorstep to Helen Taylor. Most people would panic, not Helen. How come? Well, Helen is already considered crazy – from her hoarder lifestlye, her growing number of cats, and her conversations with her husband. Only thing is that her husband, Bobby, has been dead for years. We find out that the finger is connected to the gruesome murder of her neighbor, Bebe.
The police bring Helen in for questioning because they believe she could be a witness to the crime, or a possible suspect. While in custody, the detective calls up her sister, Pat, who currently lives down in Phoenix. She comes to her sister’s aid with her two teenage sons. Upon her arrival to the police station, detectives convince her to have Helen brought into a mental facility to be evaluated. After seeing the conditions her sister was living in, she felt she had no choice and that its what was best for her.
Helen goes AWOL from the facility, and shortly after she escapes another gruesome murder occurs. Will the detectives, Pat, and her sons be able to solve the case and find Helen? In order to do so, they need to find the truth in the insanity.
This book definitely surprised me! I wasn’t expecting such a gripping mystery (based on the title). I was anticipating more of a journey of revenge (again, based on the title). The characters were so well-developed and diving into the mind of Helen was quite the ride! The hoarding, the cats, and her dealing with the grief of her husband’s death 10 years prior. I was drawn in from the start and McKinnis didn’t let go until the very end – I’m excited and hoping for a book two in the Las Vegas Mysteries series!
If you want a great murder mystery with a character that makes you feel almost as insane as she is, then this is the one for you!
About the Author/Q&A:
A life-long resident of Las Vegas and alumna of the University of Nevada, H.G. McKinnis knows her city as only a local can. By night she fluffs feathers and attaches rhinestones to the exotic wardrobes of the most glamourous venues on the strip, by day McKinnis writes about the often hardscrabble lives of her fellow desert denizens and the unlikely city they inhabit. A Justified Bitch, a twisted tale of insanity, murder, and redemption, is her first novel.
Q: You live in Las Vegas, and that’s also where your book is set. Why do you think this city provides such a rich backdrop for storytelling.
A: For starters, Las Vegas is a 24-hour town. Where else can you golf or go bowling at two in the morning and follow it up with a meal at a nice restaurant before sunrise? Another amazing feature is that, as a resident, I don’t really have to travel. The whole world comes here – not only to gamble and drop inhibitions, but to conduct business, get married, and go to school. For a relatively young city, Las Vegas has a rich, fascinating history. Who would have thought that a tiny Mormon fort surrounded by desert would grow into a metropolis of two million in just over a century? Add in mobsters, showgirls, and nuclear physicists testing bombs, and you get a history that’s any novelist’s dream. I’ll never run out of stories.
Q: Without giving too much away, what would you say is the main conflict in A Justified Bitch?
A: Helen’s overabundance of cats and ever-increasing hoard have reached critical levels, but her family—out of town and busy with their lives—are unaware of the growing complexities of her situation. When Helen is entangled in a murder investigation, the family can no longer look the other way. As they struggle to rescue Helen, they must reexamine their own relationships and identities.
Q: Most books that really connect with readers speak to some universal truths. What universal truths are illustrated or discussed in your book.
A: Siblings are a pain in the ass!
Seriously, familial relationships are complex and demanding. They also shape our identities.
Q: Can you tell readers how your personal background and experience informed your writing for A Justified Bitch.
A:I’ve lived in Las Vegas all my life and have answered the siren call of swap meets and thrift stores since I was a teenager. Because Las Vegas has a diverse and transient population, treasure hunting at bargain venues is always extra-rewarding.
Losing my husband has given me insight into the mental gymnastics needed to keep the pain at bay. I’m no Helen, but I have no trouble understanding how hoarding helped her cope with her loss.
Q: Why did you choose to write about a hoarder.
A: I’ve met a number of hoarders in my life. I noticed early on that they all had interesting and complex back stories. Many people are unaware of the hoarders in their own lives. Ashamed, hoarders hide their condition to avoid embarrassment.
Q: Is it possible to have a normal life in Las Vegas?
A: You’re asking a fish to describe water! I’ve lived here most of my life. I feel comfortable, productive, and… normal. And so do all the other nude dressers I’ve worked with!
Q: In A Justified Bitch, we notice the characters going through financial hardship and the toll it takes on them. In your opinion, how does the economy affect the lives of everyday people?
A: An entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to work hard are hallmarks of many Las Vegans. The glamor of the city is a show we put on for tourists, and it takes legions of committed and diligent people to produce the experience visitors expect. When the economy sours and jobs dry up, we all have a choice: double down or leave town. It makes me proud that the prevailing attitude among true Las Vegans is: work harder.
Thanks to Imbrifex and Smith Publicity for the advanced copy and blog tour spot in exchange for my honest review!