Friday, January 3, 2020

Review: First Cut by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell

Publication Date: January 7th 2020 by Hanover Square Press
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher

About the book:

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—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.

My Thoughts:
Dr. Jessie Teska, a medical examiner, takes a job in San Francisco’s office to get away from a case/situation that rattled her and then some. This fresh start isn’t as clean as she’d like when she’s discouraged from digging deeper into a couple of cases by upper management.  Unable to let things go, Jessie forges ahead when her gut urges her to get justice for her victims, putting her in danger as she tries to uncover the truth. 

Jessie tackles these two main mysteries, but there are also other cases that come through that she investigates, little mini mysteries that are solved along the way. There’s also a little bit of romance, Jessie’s personal life overlaps with her work life, and I found the mix a compelling and fascinating combination.   

I think fans of Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell would enjoy this story. I feel like the story was maybe a little less dramatic. I’m saying that in a positive way since I found all the dramas with Kay and her posse at bit tiresome at times. I think this is more a happy balance of Dr. G (the real-life medical examiner TV show), and Kay Scarpetta; a more clinical, matter-of-fact approach to autopsy. If you enjoy true crime shows, medical examiner mysteries, with a bit of the Dr’s personal life thrown in, then First Cut is for you.  I read the authors are working on another Jessie Teska book, and I’m looking forward to it!

4 Suns

About the authors:
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.
Connect with Judy Melinek.:

Connect with T.J. Mitchell:


  1. I love that it's a husband/wife duo that wrote this book, and it sounds really good! Thanks for sharing.


    p.s. Yes, I want your broccoli casserole recipe. :)