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  • Writer's pictureCaitlyn Lynch

Book Review: Aftershock by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

You don’t need to have read First Cut, the first in this series about medical examiner Dr. Jessie Teska, to enjoy Aftershock. It’s set several months after First Cut, when Jessie has settled into her life in San Francisco and her relationship with lawyer boyfriend Anup. Called to an apparent construction site accident where a prominent architect has been killed, Jessie soon realises things don’t quite add up about the scene, and that she’s looking at a murder, not an accident.

One of the authors is a medical examiner and it really shines through; there are no same-day DNA results (I’m looking at you, Hawaii 5-0) more like, chasing down microscope slides two weeks later. A serious earthquake in the city leaves Jessie with the morgue’s cool room stacked high with body bags and far too much work to follow up every thread on the case, and the chronically understaffed morgue with regular equipment failures also felt very realistic.

What did feel unreal to me was the building contractor who apparently had the job of doing maintenance on the HVAC on the morgue and was concrete pour supervisor at a multimillion dollar skyscraper project. These are two very different skillsets and vastly disparate budgets - one of them is a 3-4 figure job and the other a 5-6 figure job, so to me it didn’t really add up that it would be the same person within a short window of time. Unfortunately the author hung a major plot point on it, which had me wincing; it felt clunky, contrived and fake, which was a real shame because the rest of the book is so good and I like Jessie a lot - she feels so very real.

I’ll give this four stars, and I’d definitely like to keep reading in the series (hoping Anup sees the light sooner rather than later, too!) but I hope the villain in the next one is less clunkily telegraphed.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.

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