A Bustle Most Anticipated Book of January 2020
“Scalpel sharp.”—Kathy Reichs
A young rookie medical examiner. A suspicious case. An underworld plot only she saw coming.
From the New York Times bestselling authors of Working Stiff
For San Francisco’s newest medical examiner, Dr. Jessie Teska, it was supposed to be a fresh start. A new job in a new city. A way to escape her own dark past.
Instead she faces a chilling discovery when an opioid-overdose case contains hints of something more sinister. Jessie’s superiors urge her to close the case, but as more bodies land on her autopsy table, she uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate plot involving drug dealers and Bitcoin brokers.
Drawing on her real-life experiences as a forensics expert, Judy Melinek teams up with husband T.J. Mitchell to deliver the most exhilarating mystery of the year. Autopsy means “see for yourself,” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she has seen it all—even if it means that the next corpse on the table could be her own.
Forensic pathologist Melinek and husband Mitchell (Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner) make their fiction debut with a strong series launch. The case load of San Francisco medical examiner Jessie Teska, who recently relocated from L.A. after a complicated breakup with her police detective boyfriend, includes a woman who died of an apparent heroin overdose. Under pressure from her superiors to quickly close the case, Jessie sees signs that the death may be a homicide. The issue becomes even more problematic after Jessie discovers that not only was the dead woman pregnant, she was also the deputy chief medical examiner's former nanny. While Jessie's gutsy personality will endear her to readers, it's the meticulous detail that distinguishes this novel; the authors nail the (oftentimes ghastly) mundanities of life as a medical examiner ("I had spent nearly an hour sloshing through a fetid soup of decomposition fluid and liquefied organs on the autopsy table"). Fans of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta will be pleased.
A complex mystery that will keep you guessing
First Cut by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell has Dr. Jessie Teska starting over in San Francisco. Jessie along with her beagle pup, Bea rent a converted cable car. She then dives into her job as assistant medical examiner. Jessie notices an alarming number of drug related deaths that are similar. It starts her investigating that takes her down a dangerous path. Readers who enjoy forensics will be thrilled with First Cut. The authors experience shines through in First Cut. The story is well-written and the story proceeds at a thoughtful pace. I did find First Cut to be a slow starter, but it soon becomes engrossing. I thought the characters were realistic and developed. I liked Jessie with her Polish background, cute little dog named Bea, and her quirky abode. I thought she was spunky. She leaves a job with her mentor along with state of the art facilities behind in Los Angeles to get a fresh start. We do not find out why right away. Clues are dropped with the full story emerging later in the book. The descriptions are detailed allowing readers to visualize the scenes which brings the story alive. Be prepared to handle the gory details related to the autopsies (the sounds, smells and what the medical examiner sees during the examination). There is one corpse that was truly repulsive courtesy to the explosion of fluids. The mystery is complex and multifaceted. I enjoyed following Jessie as she delved into the case searching for the truth. It is a modern case that involves more than drugs (I do not want to spoil it for you). You will be amazed at how it all plays out in the end. First Cut is a story that will you keep you guessing.