Ever lose a day to something you totally shouldn’t have done and not regret it at all? Yeah, I thought so. In this case it’s NOT MY FAULT. I totally blame Alexi and Melinda.
Just so you know, Alexi is a crazy Spaniard (Andalusian, actually) from Queens. If you attend many Comic-Cons you’ve probably seen him stalking the dealer hall floor looking for victims. He’s the compact mustachioed d’Artagnan who hands you a book with a twinkle in his eye and a “You’re going to love this.”
Seriously, he’s the owner of Bards Tower, a traveling bookstore that follows the cons to get authors in front of their fans and introduce them to new ones, and he loves every sci-fi/fantasy genre there is. Except vampires, which is ironic. He’s the reason you’ve seen me in places like Hartford and Pensacola, and despite the fact that I didn’t see him at the seven cons that just didn’t happen this year, we’ve kept in touch; among other things we both love analyzing What Went Wrong with certain popular franchises. That and talking superheroes.
And he’s still introducing unsuspecting people to great books. Yesterday he reached out to me with a “You know, Melinda just re-released a fantastic book of hers, This Case is Gonna Kill Me. Heard of it?”
Yes, re-released. It may shock you to hear that books don’t just explode or disappear on their merits; publisher decisions (covers, titles, series names, amount of marketing, etc.) have a huge effect on how well a book will sell. Sometimes a fantastic piece of writing appears with poor packaging and thin marketing, and rises to the heights it deserves because enough readers love it enough to do what Alexi does–push it to an unsuspecting friend with a “You’re going to love this.” But there are so many good books out there, and more often than not, a good or even great book that’s poorly marketed will just disappear.
This Case is Gonna Kill Me was originally published under the pen-name of Phillipa Bornikova (because apparently a New York Times best-selling sci-fi writer writing fantasy is . . . bad?), with a deceptive cover (the protagonist isn’t a blonde action-girl, she’s a tiny new-minted attorney with midnight hair) and a crappy series name (yes, our little lawyer’s name is Linnet Ellery, but does The Linnet Ellery Series grab you?).
So the series didn’t find its wings. Shocker. But Melinda, and that’s Melinda Snodgrass of Wild Cards fame (also a writer for Star Trek: TNG back in the day), got the publication rights to the series back and found a new small publisher that knew a good story when it saw it and knew what to do with it. So, re-published under her own name, with a new and descriptive cover, and a catchy new series name. Also some minor scene rewrites here and there, because every author that ever published regrets that one scene or that one line of dialogue once they’ve given their baby into the hands of the publishing house.
And Alexi pushed it at me with a twinkle in his eye. “You should recommend this to your Artemis fans.”
I was skeptical. It was a vampire book. Yes, I’ve written a vampire book, but I wrote it as a writer who doesn’t like most vampire fiction. Just read Bite Me’s opening line. (Mind you I don’t hate vampires, per se, I just hate how most fang-fiction stories handle them.) But Alexi knew this, and I trusted Alexi. I said “I’ll check it out, pass it along if I think it’s worth it.” Not that Melinda ever writes anything bad, just, you know, it was a vampire book. I half-expected to read the first few chapters and put it down. Well, I put it down.
When I hit The End after midnight.
Linnet is not a vampire. She’s a lawyer, which on some days she thinks might arguably be worse. There is no vampire love-interest. Vampires are bastards.
There are also werewolves and fay. They’re bastards, too.
Warning: I give the book an R rating; it’s not full of sex and violence, but what there is is fairly graphic (I seem to recall the word viscera used once), so, FYI.
If you’re okay with that, I’ll just say it reads like a John Grisham story in the world of Supernatural. You’re going to love this.