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Great read with a nice balance of developing real characters and thrilling action with lots of forensics thrown in. Not shying away from the details the authors still managed to not gross me out too much, a fine balance indeed in a forensic mystery. Touches of humour and a strong female character won me over to becoming a fan. Look forward to the next one.
I received a free copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.
We meet Jessie Teska when she is starting her new job with the medical examiner’s office in San Francisco, having moved there from LA. The start Jessie’s story is really slow and 15% in I was wondering what the point of the story was and I was bored. I decided I probably wasting going to bother reading any further. But later the same day I decided I was being too hasty and gave the book a second go and I’m glad I did.
It still took me to more than a third of the way in to First Cut to get really involved with the story, for me to see how that different cases, people and things in Jessie’s new life weren’t entirely random. I liked the way all of the parts of the story came together and there were a few good suspenseful action scenes that got my blood pumping. Ultimately First Cut was good reading, it just had a slow start. At the conclusion to the story I got the impression that maybe there would be more books featuring Jessie. I hope here will be.
Written by a husband and wife team, First Cut is a fictional story of a medical examiner starting a career in a new city (San Francisco) and finding herself in at the deep end, with underworld figures determined to see that what she’s found is never used to bring them to justice. Dr. Jessie Teska is a fascinating and very realistic and relatable character, with her working-class Polish-Boston background, her massive student debts to pay off and her not-terrific taste in men.
Judy Melinek is a real-life medical examiner and brings a wealth of knowledge to the plot, making it feel extremely realistic - far more so than any given episode of CSI, for example, where DNA results come back in a day. The terminology does occasionally get a bit technically dense, not just in medical stuff but sometimes in computer terminology as well as a bitcoin-laundering side plot pops up, but I think it’s actually handled very well, with Jessie demanding her techie brother who she uses as a source break down the computerese for her and Jessie herself explaining her pathology findings to medical students and homicide detectives as a vehicle for the reader to understand.
If you enjoy TV shows like CSI, Silent Witness or Crossing Jordan, I think you’ll really like First Cut. It’s a complex story with plot twists and turns you won’t see coming. If forensic detail and the inner workings of a medical examiner’s office aren’t your thing - you will want a fairly strong stomach as there’s quite a lot of gruesome detail which the main character just takes in her stride - you might want to give this a miss, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to see it as the first of a series about Jessie and the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office. Five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.
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.
I picked this book up with great expectations, that were not met. The development of the story was hit and miss, the characters were less than inspiring, and there was far too much information about the process of doing an autopsy than I really cared to hear. The use of Polish expressions could be removed from the book and, if anything,, improve the quality. They served no purpose.
I pre-ordered First Cut after reading Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell’s first book: Working Stiff. That book was excellent too!
First Cut was as riveting and full of wit; I felt the characters were well developed and interesting. The authors wrote the book in a way one could visualize what is going on. The main character, Dr. Jessie Teska, transfers from the L.A. Coroner’s office to S. F. and is immediately brought into an overdose case. Jessie is very shrewd and notices that there are possibly other drug-related cases. The plot ramps up from here with twists and turns. What I love and appreciate is that when they talk about forensics and autopsies, you know the details come from a real-life medical examiner and forensic pathologist. There are a lot of details in the book, and the authors have Dr Teska investigate and put together facts in a way that were intriguing and made me want to keep reading. I couldn’t put this book down and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it . If you have read books with protagonists like Temperance Brennan and Kay Scarpetta you will like this one too! I can’t wait for their next book!!
As an emergency physician, I never realized how exciting the meticulous field of forensic pathology could be. This novel, co-authored by a forensic pathologist and her writer husband, shows the breadth and depth of this medical field in gutsy, graphic detail. Add a page-turning plot with tightening-spiral twists, a tough-as-nails yet vulnerable heroine, a complex cast of trustworthy (or not) supporters, plus cynical villains for whom no act is too heinous, and the hook is set all the way to the end. Readers who enjoyed Patricia Cornwell's earlier works will relish this book.