Swap Meets and Mystery: An H.G. McKinnis Book Review

“It takes a guilty bastard to make a justified bitch.”

Helen Taylor hasn’t been the same since her husband, Bobby, died. She seems to be getting on just fine, as she still sees and has full-blown conversations with Bobby, but her life isn’t what it once was. After being deemed a potential witness of the murder of her next door neighbor, her estranged sister and teenage sons travel to Las Vegas to help her and the police.

H.G. McKinnis’ A Justified Bitch: A Las Vegas Mystery is her debut novel and discusses several major plot points interwoven into crime and drama. Additionally, it touches on several major themes.
The main character, Helen Taylor, suffers from an undiagnosed mental illness that stemmed from the loss of her husband. She still sees Bobby and carries on conversations with him, something her friends and family choose to ignore rather than address. She has also taken up a hobby of selling at swap-meets, becoming so engrossed in them that her home has been turned into a hoarder’s dream.

The look into mental illness shows not just what Helen is going through, but how it affects her family, friends, the medical profession and the community. When her next door neighbor, Bebe Small, is murdered and a part of her body is found on Helen’s lawn, Helen is brought in as a witness. After the detective and psychiatric doctor evaluate her, her sister, Pat Henderson, is called in for assistance. The novel offers a third-person perspective of how each character is affected by Helen’s illness and delves into the realness of loving someone with a mental illness.

In the crime aspect of the novel, characters are introduced throughout that can all potentially be the killer. It’s almost a game of Clue, revealing backstories and conversations that could all be used as motive. Does Helen not remember if the voice of her husband inside of her head drove her to kill Bebe? Was Bebe murdered as part of her profession as a call girl? Does Detective Madison know more than he’s leading on to believe?

The blend of crime, drama and emotional disorders sounds like it could be a recipe for disaster but instead gives the reader the chance to connect with each character and understand their points of view. If this is what a debut novel looks like, more mysteries from Las Vegas and H.G. McKinnis are sure to be published in the near future.