‘A Justified Bitch’ by H.G. McKinnis: Book Review

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rated 3 out of 5

When a severed finger turns up on Helen Taylor’s doorstep, the police must try to find out if she saw what happened to her recently deceased (and dismembered) neighbour. But Helen has trouble remembering things, and her dead husband, Bobby, talking over her shoulder isn’t helping. So the police call in her sister, Pat, to see if she can make any sense of what Helen says.

Pat hasn’t seen her sister in years and is shocked at how bad her life has become. Since Bobby’s death ten years before, she has become a hoarder of what she refers to as her ‘inventory’ for her swap-meet stall, and Pat knows she has to stay to help Helen sort herself out.

But as the police delve deeper into the murder, they start to wonder if the reason Helen isn’t saying anything is because, not only did she see what happened, but she was involved.

Helen is a great character, she’s the best thing about this book. She’s funny and, even though she’s not quite all there, she’s relatable. I wish we were given more of an insight into her life before Bobby died. We’re told she was a successful teacher and loved hiking, but not much else. But I loved her regardless. Although I can understand Pat’s aggravation towards her, it’s still funny when she just doesn’t get why Pat gets mad at her.

I also loved Bobby, even if he was just a figment of Helen’s imagination. His sense of humour and jealousy when he thinks one of the policemen is flirting with Helen was a great comedic moment.

Pat’s son, Jordan, however, is nowhere near as likeable. I spent most of the book just wanting to smack him severely about the face. He doesn’t seem to get that his aunt is mentally unwell. She is a hoarder, complete with twenty-odd cats, she speaks to her dead husband, and she’s forgotten that she has a son. Yet Jordan constantly ignores and disagrees with his mother when she says that Helen needs help and doesn’t seem to see the danger of her roaming Las Vegas on her own. I understand that Jordan is trying to help Helen in his own way, by helping out with the swap meet, but I just don’t think he gets that she is mentally unstable. She has full-on conversations with her dead husband and he’s not batting an eyelid.

In fact, Pat is the only person who actually seems to think that Helen needs help, and she’s constantly made to feel guilty about it, which seems baffling to me.

The title confused me as well. I’m not entirely sure who the ‘bitch’ in A Justified Bitch is supposed to be. Is it Helen? Because I’m not sure what she’s meant to be justified for, and why she’s a bitch? I can only assume that the author and/or publisher wanted to grab people’s attention and thought this was the way to do it, but it seems a little cheap to me.

Despite all of this, the book is enjoyable. Reading it was kind of like watching an episode of CSI. It was fun, inoffensive, with a relatively satisfying ending. If you’re looking for an easy read with a bit of a mystery at its core, then this is the book for you.

A Justified Bitch is available from August 2017

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