A Justified Bitch

by H. G. McKinnis

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.

Author picture

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 glamorous 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.  Follow H.G. McKinnis on Facebook, or at A Justified Bitch.com

80 people attended the launch party at The Writer’s Block in downtown Las Vegas on August 8th.  A fabulous and fun after-party at the Kitchen at the Atomic was hosted by the staff and head chef of the restaurant.  Click here for the photos from the event.

 

“When a mentally ill woman is the only witness to a murder, her family rallies around her even though it means running all over Las Vegas in this hard-hitting but affectionate debut…Fast-paced, funny, and gritty—the perfect read for lounging by a casino pool.”— Kirkus Reviews

“I literally flew through the book’s 309 pages and the 4-hour 42-minute flight was just the perfect length of time to devour this insightful, delightful, madcap read. What fun! I hope we get more from this writer soon. The story is as much a look into the issues of mental illness as it is a mystery. But Helen, and how she tries to cope with her issues is, for me, the best part of the book. She is a terrific character and I was hooked right from the first chapter. I wanted to see what happened to Helen and hoped, as I was reading the book, that everything would work out for her.”—Marian Misters, SLEUTH of Baker Street, bookseller

“One of the most intriguing aspects of the book — besides its unexpected humor — is the thread of mental illness depicted…But it’s also about murder, how families work or don’t work and healing, all deftly woven into the fabric of an intriguing whole.”—John Przybys, Las Vegas Review-Journal

**** “I thoroughly enjoyed this part-time (25%) murder mystery, part-time (75%) novel on the personal and familial effects of mental illness. I also thoroughly enjoyed the narrative of their family relationships, estranged and renewed, as well as Helen’s narrative through mental illness. With about 2 pages left, I realized the the meaning behind the title and chuckled.”—Katherine Dickerson, Katherine’s Reviews

“The author describes dysfunctional, complex and complicated characters. Who is the killer? Is Helen involved? This is an intriguing, and enjoyable read with lots of action and adventure. I would recommend this entertaining book.”—Michelle Beckes, Tulsa, Oklahoma Librarian

“McKinnis really knows how to tell an story and she knows how to build full portraits of the people in her story. I loved the characters, the plot, the Old Las Vegas vibe, and the book’s message of recovery and redemption.”—Ruth Mormon, RoadTripAmerica.com

***** “I really loved this book! A great storyline and fast past read!” –Jessica Emert, Goodreads.com

***** “This book was such an unexpected delight! The dialog was so clever and the characters so engaging and likable. I appreciate the depiction of hoarding and mental illness. It was serious, yet humorous. If you want a book that’s fairly light yet keeps you on your toes, read this book. Highly recommended and I look forward to reading more from this author.” — Marsha Spencer, Goodreads.com

***** “I did not know what to expect from this book. It was different. Take one cat lady who talks to her dead husband, a hoarder and assorted other characters and a severed finger. What do you get? A book that is well written, interesting, and gives insight on mental illness. A very engrossing read” –V Nunez, Goodreads.com

“From its swap-meet beginning and its too-real emotions to its funky title, H.G. McKinnis’ debut novel is rooted in the real Las Vegas.”—Desiree Sheck, Desert Companion KNPR Magazine

“First of all, I love this cover. I love how the orange grabs your attention, and it just makes me want to start reading. I think it’s a very strong cover, and it was definitely the first thing that made me want to read this book. I loved how mental illness played a huge part in this book. As a nurse, I enjoy reading books where people aren’t all ‘normal’.”—Maureen, MaureensBooksBlog

**** “An easy page turner. Refreshing and different from most mysteries I’ve read lately with a lot of humor. Absolutely take a chance on this book and I look forward to the next book in the series.”—Chandra Claypool, WhereTheReaderGrows.com

“The true story here is one of a sister helping a sister, a mother-and-child-reunion, and a woman on the road to recovery…The novel captures Helen’s condition, and her dead-husband repartee, with a lightness that belies the real-life notion of a woman so far gone that police reel away from her body odor. This sets an early tone for a murder mystery full of chuckles and lovable characters, though the novel grows more serious as it progresses.”—Leia Menlove, Foreword Reviews

*****”A Justified Bitch is an engaging mystery with dark humor and witty repartee between characters.”
—Diane Taylor, Living-Las-Vegas.com

“A Justified Bitch is an amusing and funny mystery novel. It reminded me of some of the funnier and unique work by Janet Evanovich. The book contains a bit of everything that you would expect in a well-written novel; and some ingredients that you might not predict. I am familiar with the Las Vegas, where this takes place. However, until reading A Justified Bitch I was not cognizant of the subtle mental care aspects of Sin City.”—Steve Aberle, Goodreads reviewer

**** “A Justified Bitch is a light-hearted murder mystery, family relationship drama, and is easy-to-read and quite goofy. It is actually a bit outside the type of book that I normally read and feels like it is more on the “chick-lit” side than the gritty side of the mystery world. Nevertheless, the author knows how to spin a fairly good yarn and much of it makes for a compelling read. I think that the novel is at its best when it gives Helen’s point of view. Helen is a hoarder extraordinaire who has a running dialogue with her dead husband, Bobby, as if he were sitting on her shoulder. The confusion and distraction and misunderstandings that flow from Helen’s mental difficulties make this story.” —Dave Wildman, Goodreads

**** “I will say the title and cover of this book are what first attracted my attention, but what is on the inside was just as excellent. This is a great mystery novel and the title and cover shouldn’t dissuade you from reading it! Excellent author and I loved the story!”—Natalie Hardee, Goodreads

***** “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!”—Jessica Robins, Jessicamap Reviews!

**** “Loved it! The characters gave the story so much life. I absolutely loved them all. Sarcasm was sprinkled over everything. I found myself having to stop because I was laughing uncontrollably at times. I think this book was more of a comedy than a mystery… Would recommend for anyone who appreciates what being different is all about.”— Ilusha Bassue, Goodreads reviewer

“I did enjoy the fact that this book was pretty different and original and I admired that”— Angie Thomas-David, Goodreads reviewer,

***** “It’s a rare occasion that you come across an author with a style that flows so easily that you can’t put the book down. Happily, this was one of those occasions! I found it very hard to put this book down and read well into the night – way past my bedtime! The story gets you in from the start and keeps a hold of you until the end. The characters are likeable, the storyline solid, humorous and interesting and the author keeps you guessing until they deliver a satisfying ending. A great read, highly recommended.”— Leanne Tovo, Goodreads reviewer

***** “I would recommend this book for every fan of suspense and mystery – you definitely won’t be disappointed :)”— Matgorzata Durma, Goodreads reviewer

***** “This was a fantastic read involving mental health, love, acceptance and compassion. Really enjoyed this book on many different levels, and recommend it to those liking mysteries and warm endings.” — Laurie Peak, Goodreads reviewer

***** “A Justified Bitch is the perfect read for anyone who wants a book that will keep you entertained until the end!”
— Rebecca Guthrie, Goodreads reviewer

***** “This book was refreshingly different than most books i have read lately! It’s not the serious action packed thriller mystery you might be expecting. I was actually relieved when it turned out to be funny!”— Sarah Rife, Goodreads reviewer

**** “Helen is my kind of girl. After witnessing the death of her husband, she has literally gone off the deep end. Her sister is called in after Helen is potential witness to her neighbor’s murder. We learn the value of swap meet treasures, and unsavory jailbirds who can be your best friends in time of need. I absolutely loved this book. Characters are outstanding.”— Tara Kunkler, Goodreads reviewer

**** “I enjoyed it. I will get copies for family and friends” — Tannie Fan, Goodreads reviewer

***** “A Justified Bitch is a story of Mental Health illness, love, loyalty and family. I have never read anything like this book it was truly amazing at times I laughed so much tears were running down my cheeks.” — Gillian Petrie, Goodreads reviewer

***** “This is not my normal type of story, but I thoroughly enjoyed Helen and her struggles.” — Joyce Wright, Goodreads reviewer

***** “I really liked this book. For some reason this book was a murder mystery but it was written different. I liked it people should read it. ” — Judy Morris, NetGalley, reviewer

“Loved it! Kept me on my toes the entire time.” — Gretchen Vegas, Goodreads, reviewer

**** “This is a nice change from everyday mystery. It’s funny at times and can be a little sad also. I liked this book, it has a cast of interesting characters that seem to keep the book flowing. ” — Marybeth Taranow, NetGalley, reviewer

**** “Do NOT judge this book by it’s cover or title! It definitely is a murder mystery book and I’m not quite sure why this title and cover were chosen. I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery book. If you like a realistic murder mystery then this is the book for you. Without giving to much away Las Vegas was described well along with the characters. ” — Brianna Nemec, ABookandaLattee.com

**** “A JUSTIFIED BITCH (ignore the cover) equals Great Fun in Las Vegas with a reunited family and a murderer too close for comfort!” — Carol Hancock, Goodreads, reviewer

**** “This book was a very interesting and fast read for me. VERY unexpected, but I really enjoyed it. I read this on a Saturday/Sunday and just flew through the book 100 pages at a time.” — Elizabeth Baker Goodreads, reviewer

*** “This book was a very interesting and fast read for me. VERY unexpected, but I really enjoyed it. I read this on a Saturday/Sunday and just flew through the book 100 pages at a time.” — Rocky Dutton The SplatterGeist

***** “This is an outstanding story on many levels. It includes a murder mystery, a family reconciled,emergence from grief, and coming of age.. The style of writing helps the story along with just the right level of description for the action being portrayed. Helen is a woman developed in so much depth she is like an old friend or as described “a wacky aunt.” The boys are true adolescents, with a developing relationship with their mother. So many wonderful vignettes provide smiles or frowns, but everything truly connects with the reader. This book is worth several reads.” — Jay WilliamsGoodreads, reviewer

**** “This is that true case for not judging a book by it’s cover. That cover and the title totally suck for this cute little book. It’s good. It deserves better.” — Shelby with Flying MonkeysGoodreads, reviewer

***** “I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is very realistic. The dialogue is believable, and the descriptions of the Las Vegas environment is accurate and colorful. ” — Richard Clemmons, educator

**** “Easy to read and get into I found this crime thriller interesting as it gave an account of what it’s like to be a native of Las Vegas. Helen’s eccentricities were a quirky hook in this story and the complexities in her family add another dimension to the thriller. This is quite an even paced read and the characters really grew on me” — Babus Ahmed,Ajoobacats.com

***** “Holy crap! What an amazing book. Gripping, well written and I could not put it down. Total page turner, edge of your seat tension and I am a new fan of this mad talented author!!!!” — Aisha Hashmi,Goodreads reviewer

**** “If you like good characters, an interesting mystery, and the loyalty and conflicts of siblings, you’ll enjoy A Justified Bitch. ” — Jan Resnick,Librarian

**** “I loved the pacing of this book. There were no dead pockets of story that felt like filler. The characters are relatable and sympathetic and personally likable although at the start when Helen is at her sickest she is not so visibly attractive. The story unravels until the end all and the time I was wondering the significance of the title which reveals itself at the very end – and it’s worth waiting for.
A great cosy thriller. It’s a wonderful way to spend a day.” — Courtney Stuart,Goodreads reviewer

**** “Who is the killer? Is Helen involved? This is an intriguing, and enjoyable read with lots of action and adventure. I would recommend this entertaining book.” — Linda Zagon,LindasBookObsession.blog

**** “Who is the killer? Is Helen involved? This is an intriguing, and enjoyable read with lots of action and adventure. I would recommend this entertaining book.” — Linda Zagon,LindasBookObsession.blog

***** “A great story line based in Las Vegas. Well written. Keeps you guessing right till the end.” — Peter Mulholland,Goodreads,reviewer

***** “This book was entertaining the whole way through! I read it in 3 nights. Keeps you turning the pages, and great ending.” — Deena Worm,Goodreads,reviewer

***** “This book is a wonderful look into the mind of the mentally ill, and the tension it can bring to family members. McKinnis delves into the confusion, fear, and apathy of a schizophrenic without overcomplicating the relationships between patient, family, law, and healthcare. The book has a surprisingly light tone, but does justice to the struggles of its characters.” — Karen Crissinger,Goodreads,reviewer

***** “I thought ‘this is going to be a weird one’. And it was delightfully so. I became completely absorb in the mystery of who killed Helen’s neighbour. The charachters were so alive and personable.” — Lindy Bezuidenhout,Goodreads,reviewer

**** “I think it is a brave author who makes a difficult character central to their story. I did enjoy the fact that this book was pretty different and original.” — Angie Thomas-Davis, Amazon.UK

**** “This is a story that covers Mental Health illness, love and family loyalty. Do not judge this book by its cover.” — Louise Wilson, Goodreadsreviewer

**** “I will say the title and cover of this book are what first attracted my attention, but what is on the inside was just as excellent. This is a great mystery novel and the title and cover shouldn’t dissuade you from reading it! Excellent author and I loved the story!” — Natalie Hardee, Goodreadsreviewer

**** “I will say the title and cover of this book are what first attracted my attention, but what is on the inside was just as excellent. This is a great mystery novel and the title and cover shouldn’t dissuade you from reading it! Excellent author and I loved the story!” — Natalie Hardee, Goodreadsreviewer

**** “This book has all of the elements I love… mystery, insanity, murder, and clever dialogue. I thought the characters all had a great dynamic and likeability to them. The mystery aspect made the story fun, although it was not a thriller page-turner it had an element of surprise and the characters won me over so efficiently I had an incredibly hard time putting the book down so I read it in 3 sittings.” — Sarah Simone, Goodreads reviewer

***** “In this brilliant tale of mental illness, murder, and families ties, H.G. McKinnis captures life on the side of Las Vegas tourists seldom see and throws light on the often misunderstood phenomenon of hoarding. Suspenseful, funny, moving, and inspiring, A Justified Bitch is well-crafted and engaging from beginning to end.”— Megan Edwards, author of Getting off on Frank Sinatra

Chapter One
Friday, July 2

The Las Vegas heat shimmered off the patched asphalt, giving an opaque and eerie quality to the air. Sitting on her porch,Helen stared into the afternoon sky, rocking and humming quietly. The corner lot gave her an exceptional view of the neighborhood. Through the wire-enclosed backyards, she had an unobstructed view of the cluttered expanse all the way to the next corner. In the opposite direction, long-abandoned treasures lay baking in the sun: old cars, worn-out furniture, and less defined objects—maybe toys, maybe tools—all of them showing signs of exposure to the harsh desert environment. Across the street, beyond a car tagged with an orange tow-away sticker, she tried to decipher the hieroglyphics of the new graffiti spray-painted across the front of the Sanchez house. No message there.

A bike jump had been set up behind the car, and two teenagers wearing nothing but cargo shorts were practicing kamikaze acrobatics on their skateboards. One kid, a short Latino with tattoos on both arms, flew off the ramp and landed on the sidewalk, pumping his fist in the air and laughing in triumph. No message there.

Next door, Lupe and Fuzzball were howling, the sound rising and falling with unceasing monotony. Not a message she wanted to hear.

Bobby plopped down beside her, wearing the same shorts,T-shirt, and hiking boots he had been wearing ten years earlier when he stepped off a sixty-foot cliff in the Ruby Mountains. Helen glanced toward Bebe’s house, afraid she had seen something horrific, but not sure. It could have been another hallucination, or a late-morning dream. “What do you think?”

Squinting, Bobby craned his neck toward the back fence, a sagging chain-link. Don’t really know.

From the corner of the yard, Stripes crept toward them. Wary, the cat crouched in the brown grass, ears up, pupils wide, something in her mouth. Her green eyes focused on Helen, as if trying to communicate telepathically. Connection made, she crept forward, her coloring a perfect match for the dry grass, her prize poking out the side of her mouth like a mini cigar, then she zipped forward and deposited her gift at Helen’s feet.

Helen stared at the offering, a woman’s finger, the fingernail sporting a French manicure with a tiny fake diamond at the tip. The opposite end looked as if it had been snipped off with pruning shears, the white of the bone even with the flesh. “How about that? Bebe must have lost her press-on finger.”

Bobby gave a disgusted snort. She wears press-on nails, not press-on fingers. Looks like she cut it off.

Helen’s stomach knotted in sympathy. “Why would she do that?”

The baying from the next yard took on a mechanical quality,then quickly mutated into the familiar sound of emergency vehicles. When a squad of police cars screeched to a halt in front of Bebe’s house, Helen realized she hadn’t imagined things—the flashing lights proved that.

Uniforms slammed out of the cars, swarming around the house like well-armed ants. A large uniform, consisting of khaki pants and a matching shirt, banged his fist against the door. “Metro! Open up!” When no one answered, the man waved another uniform forward.

Helen wondered if it would be worthwhile to sell used uniforms in her booth. The police sure seemed to need a lot of them.

The new man hoisted a hand-held battering ram, and at some unseen signal smashed open the door. A gang of uniforms raced inside, their voices echoing back through the opening.

“Watch it!”

“Christ Almighty!”

“It’s a damn slaughterhouse.”

“Don’t step on anything!”

“Check the hall!”

“Holy shit, wait for Crime Scene! Wait for Crime Scene!”

“Back out, goddamnit!”

Trade Paper:  $15.00 US / $20.50 CDN ISBN:  978-0997236958
ePub: $9.95 US / $13.60 CDN  ISBN: 978-01945501029
Audiobook: Unabridged $26.00 US / $35.53 CDN  ISBN:  978-0997236972

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