This Case is Gonna Kill Me – Phillipa Bornikova

About the book

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….

320 pages (paperback)
Published on September 4, 2012
Published by Tor

This book was sent to me to review by the publisher.

You can purchase this book by clicking on the following link:  This Case Is Gonna Kill Me


To the people who say that covers don’t matter, I say that you are in denial. Example: This Case is Gonna Kill Me.  When I got it in the mail, I looked at the title and thought something along the lines of “meh.” Then, I saw the cover and I started reading it right away. Why, might you be asking? Because it’s obviously urban fantasy, written by an author of the female gender, with a woman on the cover wearing business attire. There are no obvious signs of magic, lower back tattoos, stomachs, weapons or vampires present. This fact alone made me read the book right away. I had to know how a fully dressed woman managed to appear on the cover of an urban fantasy book. Point proved: Covers matter (or something).

This Case is Gonna Kill Me is both different and the same as many other urban fantasy books I’ve read. It’s different in the fact that the main character, Linnet, isn’t a super badass on some I-am-so-hardcore-look-at-my-badassness kick due to some dark, disturbed and screwed-by-men past. Linnet is an educated woman who was raised in an upper-class family that goes back to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It’s a refreshing twist that Linnet owns who she is. She’s smart and she knows it, and she’s fit and pretty and she knows it. She’s not cocky about it, but she also doesn’t act completely surprised or ignorant of the (insert impressive number here) of men who trail after her in some love-sick state. They don’t exist. In Linnet’s firm, she’s the underdog fighting for respect and much of the book focuses on her desire to be recognized as a formidable lawyer in a law firm ran by ancient vampires rather than lusting after numerous men and being completely oblivious of her sexual appeal (hmm… one might thing I have some urban fantasy pet peeves…)

In this respect, This Case is Gonna Kill Me was a nice change of pace, and Linnet was a unique and engaging protagonist in a genre that seems to struggle with believability issues. The plot moves quickly and soon Linnet finds herself in the middle of a complex legal case complete with murders. It’s interesting to see how the protagonist handles all of this in a law firm where she is very much the under dog. She struggles both with her professional position as well as with the case which ends up being much more important than she first thought. Perhaps where this book struggles is with the plot.

While the plot is quick moving and the world is interesting, things have a way of working out for Linnet that made me roll my eyes a few times. I have a hard time believing that anyone has that kind of luck. This doesn’t really become obvious until the book starts winding down and things start to fall like perfect dominos around Linnet. Another small issue was with the (thankfully) understated romance. While attraction was mentioned earlier in the book, when the romance takes off it seems forced and feels rather awkwardly placed in the book.

The world that Linnet lives in is fascinating, and New York City is vibrant and well realized and Linnet eats at several restaurants that make me very hungry. Bornikova’s love of the city really shows in This Case is Gonna Kill Me. New York is loud, dingy, ethnic and exciting. It’s everything New York City should be, and it’s one of the highlights of this book. Perhaps where Bornikova slacks off a little is describing the Powers (the vampires, werewolves and Alfar and all other not-quite-humans). These Powers are fascinating, and having recently come out of hiding and properly entered society. I felt that Bornikova could have perhaps expanded a bit more on social struggles, or perhaps class issues and whatever else. While these aspects of the Powers are mentioned occasionally, and Linnet being fostered by vampires really brought vampire culture to life, I felt that somehow the Powers just didn’t match the zeal and realism that New York City offered.

This Case is Gonna Kill Me is one of those urban fantasy books that is a lot of fun on one hand, and kind of lacking a bit on the substance on the other. However, while I usually complain about that, minus a few small issues here and there, this book really stands on its own feet. This Case is Gonna Kill Me features a believable and engaging protagonist struggling through a prominent law firm. This isn’t a cheap urban fantasy thrill; rather it’s a cut above the rest. With an ending nicely tying up plot points, and setting up for book two, fans of urban fantasy will be begging for the next installment in this mature and unique series.

3.5/5 stars

(Odd factoid: The book I was given has a blonde woman on the cover, while throughout the book Linnet is described as having black hair. I found it odd that a blonde was on the cover. I looked this book up on Goodreads and the cover features a black haired woman. I’m assuming that’s the correct version, and thus the version I’m using for this review.)

4 Responses

  • I’m adding all the UF books you don’t destroy to me reading pile.

    • BookwormBlues


      That made me just about fall off my chair.

  • Cool, I’ll look out for this one.

  • Hi Sarah, found your blog via Goodreads.

    I’m trying to read outside my comfort zone and this looks interesting – have never really read any urban fantasy, but like the idea of combining fantastical elements with a fairly staid genre – the legal thriller. Thx for the review – nice blog!

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