2018 Mystery Writers Conference Event
Free & Open to the Public
Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. While her husband and their toddler held down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation -- performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy's two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines Flight 587.
An unvarnished portrait of the daily life of medical examiners -- complete with grisly anecdotes, chilling crime scenes, and a welcome dose of gallows humor -- Working Stiff offers a glimpse into the daily life of one of America's most arduous professions, and the unexpected challenges of shuttling between the domains of the living and the dead. The body never lies -- and through the murders, accidents, and suicides that land on her table, Dr. Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorized depictions of autopsy work on television to reveal the secret story of the real morgue. "Haunting and illuminating...the stories from her average workdays...transfix the reader with their demonstration that medical science can diagnose and console long after the heartbeat stops" (The New York Times).
Judy Melinek is a forensic pathologist and an associate clinical professor at UCSF Medical Center. She earned her college degree from Harvard and received her medical degree and pathology residency training at UCLA. Her coauthor and husband T.J. Mitchell graduated with an English degree from Harvard and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad in 2000. They have three children, and have lived in and worked in San Francisco since 2004.
The Education of a Coroner is an "entertaining" (Booklist) account of the mysterious, hair-raising, and heartbreaking cases handled by the coroner of Marin County, California throughout his four decades on the job -- from high-profile deaths and serial killers to inmate murders and Golden Gate Bridge suicides.
Marin County, California is a study in contradictions. Its natural beauty attracts celebrity residents and thousands of visitors every year, yet the county also is home to San Quentin Prison, one of the oldest and largest penitentiaries in the United States. Marin ranks in the top one percent of counties nationwide in terms of affluence and overall health, yet it is far above the norm in drug overdoses and alcoholism, not to mention the large percentage of suicides that occur on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Ken Holmes worked in the Marin County Coroner's Office for thirty-six years, starting as a death investigator and ending as the three-term, elected coroner. As he grew into the job -- one that is far different from the forensics we see on television -- Holmes learned a variety of skills, from finding hidden clues at death scenes, interviewing witnesses effectively, managing bystanders and reporters, and preparing testimony for court to how to notify families of a death with sensitivity and compassion. He also learned about different kinds of firearms, all types of drugs -- prescription and illegal -- and about certain unexpected and potentially fatal phenomena, such as autoeroticism.
Complete with poignant anecdotes, The Education of a Coroner from John Bateson is "riveting and complex...supremely entertaining reading material and...a fascinating and wildly informative dive into the mysterious world of death and decay" (Kirkus Reviews).