This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova

This Case Is Gonna Kill Me (Linnet Ellery)
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(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“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….”

Oddly enough, this is one of two books with a supernatural legal theme that I started reading simultaneously.  I got interested in this book when I saw that the author has worked in a legal firm and therefore has a good grasp on the ins and outs of how things work.  Obviously, this has the potential to be boring, as a lot of law work involves hours of research and writing reports.  This book is far from boring, though.

I really, really liked Linnet.  She’s a strong character who faces what frightens her, be that an attacking werewolf or the scorn of her co-workers.  Of course, the story does have a couple of the requisite instances of her foolishly going off on her own, but other than that, I was impressed with her.  What I especially liked was her reaction to some, shall we say, interoffice hazing that involved some humiliating circumstances.  Rather than brooding about it and succeeding despite the pain and embarrassment, she takes control of the situation and exposes some really dark social politics at play among the office’s women.  It doesn’t solve all of her co-worker issues, but it does go a long way towards making things more bearable.

I was also interested in one of her vampire co-workers, David Sullivan.  He’s a bit of an enigma, helping Linnet even though he clearly doesn’t like her all that much.  He does keep an eye out for our heroine, though, and doesn’t throw her to the wolves (figuratively or literally) when things get tough.  He’s definitely in it for some advantage in the vampire power structure, as we see by book’s end, but I still liked him.  He wasn’t the usual type of character, and the fact that his role was played straight with no hint of romance or double-dealing made me want to see more of him.

The plot incorporated a lot of the realities of working in a legal firm with the unique issues that could crop up if vampires and werewolves were real.  In this case, it’s the issue of property transfer: should a man’s genetic children have precedence over one that was supernaturally sired?  Things do boil down to a will, but questions like this are prominent through the story.  There are some minor plot threads running through the narrative involving Linnet and her problems, as well as some hints of how the supernatural world intersects with the human world, and I hope these are explored more in the next book.

When I finished this book, I found myself looking forward to Box Office Poison, which comes out in August.  Linnet is a no-nonsense lady that I’d like to read about more, and this supernatural law firm seems to be a great story setting.  This Case is Gonna Kill Me was a smart and fast-paced dip into the murky legalities of living with the not-quite-human.  I can’t wait until I can read more about Linnet and her cases!

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on June 17, 2013.

Series: Linnet Ellery
ISBN: 9780765333896
Publisher: Tor
Page Count: 320
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Acquired: Borrowed from the Yolo County Public Library, Davis branch
Read an excerpt