Book Talk: First Cut: A Novel Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell
"Who better to deliver a genuinely compelling mystery than real-life medical examiners? Fans of CSI and Forensic Files will devour this well-plotted story."
— Karin Slaughter, New York Times bestselling author
About the Book
A young rookie medical examiner. A suspicious case. An underworld plot only she saw coming.
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.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“ If you love a fast-paced story with a true crime feel to it, waste no time hunting down the debut novel First Cut.…The husband and wife writing team merges the insider expertise of a career medical examiner who has dealt with every detail of deaths from city morgues (Melinek) and a writer who understands how to work nuanced characters with distinctive personalities into a well-paced narrative with surprising twists and turns.”
“ All the charm, gruesome detail and surprising empathy that made Working Stiff such a delight brought back in a novel. An impressive opener to a series that deserves to run and run.” —Alex Marwood, author of The Wicked Girls and The Killer Next Door
“ This is the best mystery I've read in quite some time. I found the detail of procedural information is fascinating, and well-balanced by the book's page-turning, twisting plot. Bravo to the authors: you managed to educate us while entertaining us.My only reservations: - 1. The quantity of Polish expressions seemed extraneous, and 2. - more significantly: (this my fervent plea to ALL recent fiction writers): please, please, leave out the EFF-word altogether.Unlike some editorial reviews, I hope First Cut is NOT intended as the first in an ongoing series. By all means, do keep writing: just give us a new medical examiner next time with a different personal history, and leave First Cut for what it is: a great stand-alone.” —Medina Molly, Amazon Readers' Review
“ I listened to First Cut by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell on a recent road trip, and I have to say the hours sped by. Amanda Dolan is superb in bringing the authors' work to life. Suspenseful, well written, Dr. Jesse Teska's move to San Francisco is far from smooth from the time she pulls into the San Francisco Medical Examiner's parking lot and has forgotten her badge. Jesse leaves baggage behind in LA and it soon follows her to her autopsy table. Filled with memorable characters, an episode of Quincy was never as exciting as this. Did a young woman with no signs of drug use overdose as San Francisco police and Jesse's supervisor suggest? Or is something more sinister at play? Fortunately Dr. Jesse is no shrinking violet and refuses to sign the death certificate until she knows for sure. Facing a caseload from hell, and medical doctors who usurp her at every turn, Jesse uncovers the truth with the help of her brother Tomash, a bail bondsman friend, and an intriguing potential love interest. I was hooked from page one! Looking forward to book two. —Pennydreadful Reader, Amazon Readers' Review
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Judy Melinek, M.D. & T.J. Mitchell are the New York Times bestselling co-authors of the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner (Scribner) and the novels First Cut and Cross Cut (Hanover Square). Dr. Melinek studied at Harvard and UCLA, was a medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. T.J. Mitchell, her husband, is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad to their children. First Cut, the debut novel in the Jessie Teska detective series, launches in hardcover on January 7, 2020. Cross Cut, its sequel, is coming in 2021.