Sunday, January 5, 2020

"First Cut" by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell


Wife and husband duo Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell first enthralled the book world with their runaway bestselling memoir Working Stiff—a fearless account of a young forensic pathologist’s “rookie season” as a NYC medical examiner. This winter, Dr. Melinek, now a prominent forensic pathologist in the Bay Area, once again joins forces with writer T.J. Mitchell to take their first stab at fiction.

The result: FIRST CUT (Hanover Square Press; Hardcover; January 7, 2020; $26.99)—a gritty and compelling crime debut about a hard-nosed San Francisco medical examiner who uncovers a dangerous conspiracy connecting the seedy underbelly of the city’s nefarious opioid traffickers and its ever-shifting terrain of tech startups.

Dr. Jessie Teska has made a chilling discovery. A suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister: a drug lord’s attempt at a murderous cover up. As more bodies land on her autopsy table, Jessie uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate network of powerful criminals—on both sides of the law—that will do anything to keep things buried. But autopsy means “see for yourself,” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she’s seen it all—even if it means the next corpse on the slab could be her own.

My review...

I’ve never read anything by this author, but the book blurb sounded like something I’d enjoy. I liked the medical facts throughout, as well as the fact that things were written in a manner that the average person could understand. I love TV shows that deal with forensics, and this book reminded me of them.

Dr. Jessie Teska is a new medical examiner in San Francisco. She's smart and sassy. The author's inside knowledge of the field adds to the realism and enjoyment of the story. The character development is solid and the mystery interesting to watch unfold. There were a few unexpected twists, that I enjoyed. The end did seem a bit abrupt, but perhaps it's a set-up for a sequel.

Fans of crime stories, mysteries, and police procedurals will enjoy the book.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I wasn't required to leave a positive review.


Judy Melinek was an assistant medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. She and T.J. Mitchell met as undergraduates at Harvard, after which she studied medicine and practiced pathology at UCLA. Her training in forensics at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner is the subject of their first book, the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner.

T.J. Mitchell is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad. He is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner with his wife, Judy Melinek.

Where you can find them online...
·        Judy: @drjudymelinek
·        TJ: @TJMitchellWS
·        Judy: @drjudymelinek

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