This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova
Official Summary: “What happens when The Firm meets Anita Blake? You get the Halls of Power—our modern world, but twisted. Law, finance, the military, and politics are under the sway of long-lived vampires, werewolves, and the elven Alfar. Humans make the best of rule by “the Spooks,” and contend among themselves to affiliate with the powers-that-be, in order to avoid becoming their prey. Very loyal humans are rewarded with power over other women and men. Very lucky humans are selected to join the vampires, werewolves, and elves—or, on occasion, to live at the Seelie Court.
Linnet Ellery is the offspring of an affluent Connecticut family dating back to Colonial times. Fresh out of law school, she’s beginning her career in a powerful New York “white fang” law firm. She has high hopes of eventually making partner.
But strange things keep happening to her. In a workplace where some humans will eventually achieve immense power and centuries of extra lifespan, office politics can be vicious beyond belief. After some initial missteps, she finds herself sidelined and assigned to unpromising cases. Then, for no reason she can see, she becomes the target of repeated, apparently random violent attacks, escaping injury each time through increasingly improbable circumstances. However, there’s apparently more to Linnet Ellery than a little old-money human privilege. More than even she knows. And as she comes to understand this, she’s going to shake up the system like you wouldn’t believe….”
This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova (a pen name for scifi author Melinda Snodgrass) is the first in a new urban fantasy series set at a law firm run by vampires. Unlike many fantasy series, this one takes place in a world where the Powers (vampires, werewolves and alfar, or elves) live openly and actually control key aspects of business and society. In this world, humans gain status and connections through their association with vampires. For some, these associations start young with human families sending their children to be fostered by vampires to improve their position in life. Others wait until they are in the workplace. Human males who work at the firms vie for the privilege of being made partner and turned into vampires, which go hand-in-hand. Women, on the other hand, are never turned into vampires and therefore hold a secondary spot at the firms, but nevertheless gain prestige by working at the so-called “White Fang” firms that are run by vampires.
This is the world that Linnet Ellery has always inhabited. As a child, she was sent to live as a foster child of a powerful vampire and now that she has finished law school, this vampire’s connections have landed her a job at a powerful firm and in the middle of a power struggle among the partners. Immediately assigned to a seemingly dead-end case, Linnet thinks she will be stuck slogging through boring work, but instead ends up attacked by a vampire who kills the other lawyer on the case. She quickly realizes that there is more to this seemingly pointless case than she first thought. And, despite her best intentions, she gets dragged further and further into the mystery surrounding it.
This Case is Gonna Kill Me will appeal to fans of urban fantasy series. It offers a familiar array of creatures cast in a different light by new and well-developed mythology that is unique to this world. Elements that could seem overdone are instead given a fresh twist that makes this world one that can easily support future novels in the series. Linnet is a relatable protagonist since she is an average human, albeit with good connections, struggling to find her place in this world separate from both her foster and biological families. Some of the side characters seem a bit cliched, but they make sense in the context of the story and are overshadowed by the fact that most of the characters are well-developed and unique.
The mystery itself is entertaining and gives rise to several exciting fight sequences that would be at home in an action movie. By the end of the book, the author has managed to both resolve the core mystery and leave a cliffhanger for future books, which will be sure to leave new fans eager for the next book. For those looking for a new take on the popular plot elements and characters typical in urban fantasies, This Case is Gonna Kill Me is a promising start to a new series.
Check it Out: This Case is Gonna Kill Me will be released on September 4th and is currently available for preorder.
Readalike: Those who enjoy this novel will want to try Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series (start with Some Girls Bite) or the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, which served as the inspiration for the HBO series True Blood (start with Dead Until Dark).
Note: Review based on ARC from publisher.