Thursday, January 9, 2020

✱✱Book Review✱✱ Blog Tour: First Cut by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell

Author: Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell
ISBN: 9781335008305
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Hanover Square Press

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.


Momma Says: 3 stars⭐⭐⭐

First Cut is suitably named, and it goes into some pretty disturbing details about Jessie's job as a medical examiner. Normally, I'm not overly squeamish, but this gave me a little more than I bargained for, and parts of it did bother me. Given Melinek's background, I have no doubt that her attention to detail with this story is accurate, but there are just some things about the world of autopsy that I don't need to know. I think I'm probably not the target audience for this one, but I do recognize the talented writing, and the authors certainly know how to set a scene. The story does have a pretty good pace, and other than those somewhat gruesome details that I mentioned earlier, it held my interest. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a thriller, but it there is good suspense, and the characters, while not all likable, are interesting. In the end, First Cut may be a little more detailed on autopsies than I prefer, but it was worth the read.


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.

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