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Thursday, January 09, 2020

Debut Medical Mystery by Wife/Husband Duo Engrossing, But Otherwise Nothing Special

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

In need of a start-over, forensic pathologist Jessie Teska moves from L.A. to San Francisco.  The 31-year-old is not thrilled with the foggy city, her cramped converted cable car apartment, or the aging equipment in the dingy building where she's employed as an assistant medical examiner.  She needs to make it all work, though, even if she's feeling increasingly overworked and underpaid. 

When the body of a young Filipino nursing student, dead of an apparent heroin overdose, lands on Jessie's table, she's taken aback.  Especially when she notices several inconsistencies between the detectives' version of what happened to her and the story her corpse is telling.  Although she's told repeatedly to let it go, Jessie can't.  Something about the death doesn't compute.  With more and more bodies piling up on her table, she's convinced—there's more to these overdose deaths than meets the eye.  No one else seems to care, but Jessie won't rest until she figures out what's really going on.  Even if it means putting herself in the crosshairs of a killer's weapon.

First Cut is the debut novel of wife/husband team Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell and the first installment in a new mystery series.  A Harvard-educated forensic pathologist with many years of experience, Dr. Melinek clearly knows her stuff.  First Cut is filled with interesting, though graphic and gory, depictions of medical examiner life.  Storywise, the novel isn't anything mystery/thriller lovers haven't seen before.  The tale is predictable, the killer not all that surprising.  There's enough action to keep readers turning pages, though.  Jessie is a complex, admirable heroine, although she's impulsive and has questionable people-judging skills.  Overall, First Cut is an engrossing book, but one I didn't end up loving.  I doubt I'll continue with the series. 

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs)

Grade:



If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, blood/gore, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of First Cut from the generous folks at HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

6 comments:

  1. I was curious about this one , having read Melinek’s memoir Working Stiff. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hmmm...this is not one I'd heard about. Even if it didn't work so well for you, I'm intrigued. Might not buy it, but will likely see if the library has it or is getting it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. There's so many similar books to this one out there, they need to be really good if I'm going to continue on in the series. 'Cause life is short, and I already don't have enough time to read the books I want to read.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This sounds like it could be interesting but I'm not sure I want that level of gore and grimness. I burned out on the Temperance Brennan series a few books in.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can't think of a way much more likely to expose the cracks in your marriage than to write a novel with your spouse as co-author. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  6. Too bad this one isn't a winner because the premise is a good one. I've enjoyed the Patricia Cornwell books about a medical examiner, but I think she is probably the queen of the genre.

    ReplyDelete

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