Early Review: This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova

This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova
Tor/Sept. 4th, 2012
Urban Fantasy
Kind thanks to Tor and NetGalley for providing a review copy

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….

When Linnet Ellery begins working at the White-Fang (yep, vampires) law firm of Ishmael, McGillary, and Gold, she realizes rather quickly that her professional life may be a bit boring for a while. Taken under the wing of lawyer Chip Westin, she’s recruited to help out on a case that’s been in litigation for many years. Stagnation seems inevitable, until a werewolf invades the law firm one evening, brutally murdering Chip, and nearly killing Linnet. Who would have wanted to kill the gentle,kindly Chip? And why?

I really enjoyed this fun, unusual urban fantasy! The alternate world the author created is just to the left of ours, and vampires, werewolves, and the fae (the Alfar) have revealed themselves and are collectively thought of as the Powers. It’s a boy’s club, however, at least when it comes to vamps and werewolves. You see, they’re not allowed to turn women, under any circumstance, under the penalty of death. Linnet was, in fact, fostered by a vampire liege from the age of eight, with whom she’s still very close to, so she’s sensitive to the discrimination that they sometimes face. Working at a White-Fang law firm doesn’t intimidate her, but knowing that she, and the rest of the women in the office, will never make partner, can be bothersome. As she follows the clues to find out who killed Chip, with the help of handsome PI (and Alfar) John O’Shea, she finds herself in danger more than a few times over, but she’s determined to get to the bottom of it. A shadowy firm called Securitech and its head werewolf, Deegan, seem to have something to do with his death, but she’s not quite sure what. She does know that Deegan is perfectly capable of tearing her limb from limb.

This book is described as Anita Blake meets The Firm, but I’d describe it more like Stephanie Plum meets The Firm. Linnet has the charm of Plum, but is plenty capable in her job, and I loved how the author actually gives her a life in between the werewolf attacks and law office politics (of which there are plenty). Linnet is an accomplished horsewoman, and I loved the passages that involved the ins and outs of competitive riding. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the action, but woven in with traditional urban fantasy themes are explorations of gender equality, and a rather sweet romance. It also wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the author is very fond of New York City, since it’s almost a character unto itself. I highly enjoyed This Case is Gonna Kill Me and I’ll be crossing my fingers for more adventures with Linnet!

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