Book Review: First Cut by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
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.