The title is terrible and the cover art is daft, but This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova is a fun read in an over-saturated urban fantasy market.
I swear to god, I am over vampires and werewolves and fairies. The muscles in my face are constantly cramped from the overly dramatic eye-rolls I’m forced to perform every time I see another book with sexy vampires/weres/fairies and conflicted heroine who just can’t decide. Which is like every day for me.
Originally, I wasn’t even going to read This Case is Gonna Kill Me. There seemed to be, however, just enough different about it that I did pick it up from the pile of review copies.
And, damn, it was fun.
There is a lot that’s recognizable about Bornikova’s paranormal species. Vampires are still beautiful and wealthy and interested in power. Fairies are still beautiful and irresistible. Werewolves are still scrappy rage monsters at the mercy of their emotions. Humanity is still caught in the middle, either wanting to be part of that paranormal world themselves, or being resentful of it. The cultures built around these paranormal species, though, are tweaked just enough to be new.
Our heroine, Linnet, is a human raised by a vampire. A brand new attorney, she reluctantly exploits her vampire-family ties to get a position at a vampire-run law firm. She’s assigned to a pointless, dead-end case which, naturally, becomes more than she bargained for, as is frequently the way with urban fantasy.
Linnet is really what makes the novel work. She isn’t physically threatening, nor is she a great beauty. What she is, is smart and scrappy in a mouthy, Mary Tyler Moore sort of way; she actually wins because she’s smart and works hard at her job. Paranormal assistance just helps keep her alive long enough to do it. Linnet does her fighting with her head and doesn’t get overwhelmed by romance.
On a side note, after years of oversexed vampires who insist on going for 11 hours straight (sorry, but there’s not enough lube in the world for that), Bornikova’s single vampire-sex scene is refreshingly awkward and appropriately unsexy (just like sex with a dead guy should be!).
This Case is Gonna Kill Me is a more of a paranormal legal drama than action-packed urban fantasy, and that’s a nice change in the landscape.
Cheese Rating Scale: Pepperoni Cheddar. It didn’t look like much when I saw it in the cheese case at L. Halteman at Reading Terminal Market, but it was surprisingly tasty. Not something I want all the time, though.
Twihard Rehabilitation Factor: Medium. Linnet is young enough that Bella fans won’t find her to be one of the Dreaded Olds. Linnet also makes stupid decisions, but it comes from a place of trying to do the right thing, rather than trying to get a guy to love her.
Review copy provided by Tor.