First Cut: A Novel

First Cut: A Novel

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Overview

A Bustle Most Anticipated Book of January 2020

“Scalpel sharp.”—Kathy Reichs

A young rookie medical examiner. A suspicious case. An underworld plot only she saw coming.

From the New York Times bestselling authors of Working Stiff

For San Francisco’s newest medical examiner, Dr. Jessie Teska, it was supposed to be a fresh start. A new job in a new city. A way to escape her own dark past.

Instead she faces a chilling discovery when an opioid-overdose case contains hints of something more sinister. Jessie’s superiors urge her to close the case, but as more bodies land on her autopsy table, she uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate plot involving drug dealers and Bitcoin brokers.

Drawing on her real-life experiences as a forensics expert, Judy Melinek teams up with husband T.J. Mitchell to deliver the most exhilarating mystery of the year. Autopsy means “see for yourself,” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she has seen it all—even if it means that the next corpse on the table could be her own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781335008305
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Publication date: 01/07/2020
Edition description: Original
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 114,691
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

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First Cut: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous 20 days ago
I was fascinated by Melineks's first, non-fiction, book, Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, and so had great expectations from her first novel and she and Mitchell totally delivered. This high pace thriller keeps you guessing. Using her real life experience as a forensic pathologist the author sets the scene so well. I could feel myself walking the streets of SF along with Jessie Teska. I'm really looking forward to more in the series.
thicks 21 days ago
Being a little tired of the sex and romance genre this was a wonderful change along with a new author. There is plenty of mystery and intrigue around the new position she has when she stumbles on a body that reminds her of the reason she in here. What this autopsy leads to is a swirl of activity as she weaves her way through all of leads and twist these authors supply in this forensic read. Don't get me wrong there is some romance but no details. These authors take us places and have us wondering what could possibly happen next all the way to the abrupt ending. There is no chance to take a breath as one clue leads to another. Don't blink and trust no one because it's that first cut that will get you.
rlane 21 days ago
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!
Library_Jen 3 months ago
Dr. Jessie Teska, coroner, moved from LA to San Francisco to work for the city's Medical Examiner's office. hoping for a fresh start. However, what seems to be an accidental overdose, an open and shut case, turns into something much bigger when Jessie finds evidence of foul play. When more bodies show similar signs and her boss tells her to rule it an accident and move on, Jessie can't let it go, even when that puts her own life in danger. I am a fan of many crime dramas on TV, so I was excited to receive an ARC of this book. I was impressed with how accurate the science seemed to be and I enjoyed the character development. I wasn't a fan of the random Polish phrases thrown in, only about 80% of the time was their meaning obvious through context clues. The suspense felt real to me and the twists were unexpected. I didn't have the whole thing figured out halfway through, which is often the case. I wouldn't call this great literature, it certainly isn't high brow, it's gritty without being too dark. But it was fast-paced and entertaining. I was a little disappointed in the abruptness of the end, but that didn't keep me from enjoying the book. And it certainly won't keep me from reading a sequel (if there is one)! I recommend this to fans of police procedurals, crime dramas, mysteries, and strong female protagonists. I look forward to reading more from this author. Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Nanna51 3 months ago
First of all, I am very hopeful that this is the first of a new series that will view Patricia Cornwall and Kathy Reichs some competition! This book was a fascinating foray into the world of forensic science, with a lot of gritty and realistic details. For example, the main character is a medical examiner named Dr. Jessie Teska. After doing a particularly odious autopsy, she desperately needs a shower and can’t get one, so her odorous self is described in explicit and yucky detail. In fact, there are graphic descriptions throughout the book, so for that reason, it will not be for everyone. I would categorize the book as a thriller/mystery/suspense. Jessie is faced with the challenge of following the clues wherever they follow and ends up being blocked by the police, big tech and her own boss. Her determination and grit made me cheer her on and encouraged me to read faster. This was a quick-paced book with some really unexpected twists as well as a surprise ending. I really encourage fans of forensic science mysteries to read this book, and I applaud the tremendously entertaining plot with the quirky and humorous new medical examiner. Disclaimer Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”
Nanna51 3 months ago
First of all, I am very hopeful that this is the first of a new series that will view Patricia Cornwall and Kathy Reichs some competition! This book was a fascinating foray into the world of forensic science, with a lot of gritty and realistic details. For example, the main character is a medical examiner named Dr. Jessie Teska. After doing a particularly odious autopsy, she desperately needs a shower and can’t get one, so her odorous self is described in explicit and yucky detail. In fact, there are graphic descriptions throughout the book, so for that reason, it will not be for everyone. I would categorize the book as a thriller/mystery/suspense. Jessie is faced with the challenge of following the clues wherever they follow and ends up being blocked by the police, big tech and her own boss. Her determination and grit made me cheer her on and encouraged me to read faster. This was a quick-paced book with some really unexpected twists as well as a surprise ending. I really encourage fans of forensic science mysteries to read this book, and I applaud the tremendously entertaining plot with the quirky and humorous new medical examiner. Disclaimer Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”
Anonymous 3 months ago
Dr. Jessie Teska is new to San Francisco but not new to her job as medical examiner. She is smart and down to earth, has a very vocal and kind of destructive dog, a murky family history and a very curious nature that just might lead her into trouble. Something about one of her first cases in her new department feels off and the more she pursues it, the worse it feels. When someone close to the case takes an interest, things quickly spiral in their own direction, leaving Jessie to follow along as her case becomes entangled in other recent cases. This book feels like the beginning of a series. I get essence of early Kay Scarpetta and early Temperence Brennan in here. There is just the right mix of professional story line with a sprinkle of her human side, her dog her brother, her dates and even a smattering of her past. A solid read. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.
McBook 3 months ago
Dr. Jessie Tesla has moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco to work in the Medical Examiner's office. San Francisco plays a huge role in the book: diverse characters (Jessie stands for the Polish name Czeslawa), computer technology such as bitcoins, and the fog. Jessie tells the similarities and differences between autopsies she performed on two women, one is LA and the other in SF. Both women are 12-weeks pregnant. Jessie runs into trouble with her bosses and with others who do not want her findings published. There are explicit descriptions of autopsies -- all the better because the co-author is a forensic pathologist and writes what she knows. Interesting readings, although some of the homicide and autopsy scenes made me queasy. Thanks to #Netgalley and Harlequin for permitting me to read this book!
BuckeyeAngel 3 months ago
This was an unexpected surprise. I am a true crime fan so I really got into the details in this book, especially since there are a few shows I watch that are from the MEs perspectives. I loved following Jessie around through this thriller. I had to keep reminding myself it was fiction! I can't wait for another book from these authors. I highly recommend.
rentinjen 3 months ago
This was a great read. I love a good medical thriller. I thought this was going to be something like Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series, but it was so much more. I loved it. I thought the premise might be a little far fetched with bit coin and drug dealers, but it worked. Thank you #NetGalley for an early copy of #FirstCut to review.
Jill-Elizabeth_dot_com 3 months ago
What a fabulous find this was! I'm fascinated by what forensics and forensic medical examiners are able to uncover based on the remains - no matter how degraded or diminished - of the human body... In this excellent story, Melinek and Mitchell have crafted a world that is sinister and scientific and full of secrets, and they've wrapped a messy but enthralling mystery inside of it. Add in a cast of characters that are complex, well-developed, and full of quirks and foibles and you have the making of a compelling story that I couldn't put down until I knew how it would all end... Jessie Teska is surrounded by lies and liars - everyone from the bodies she examines to her colleagues and superiors has a secret, and it seems to fall on her shoulders to decipher (or at least navigate) through the minefields that those secrets represent. She is a fantastic protagonist - complicated, snarky, and full of secrets of her own that (of course) complicate matters deviously. This was a great combination of medical mystery, crime, and revelatory thriller. The writing is fast-paced with just enough cringe-inducing descriptions of the process of medical examination to thrill and chill. Jessie's tale grabbed me from the first pages and never let go. I'm hoping this turns out to be a first-in-series. The characters are wonderful and there's great potential for continuation here... Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my obligation-free review copy.
Honolulubelle 3 months ago
Favorite Quotes: Dr. Stone struck me as an overgrown nerd, brilliant and opinionated and completely unfiltered. I like nerds, and I’ve been told many times— many times— that I could use a stronger filter myself. He speaks Bengali like I speak Polish— fluent in curse words, proverbs, and food. People from happy families can’t comprehend what it’s like to live in a hostage situation with people who tell you they love you. We don’t work in a justice system, Jessie. It’s a legal system. We take what we can get. My Review: This multi-layered tale was cunningly plotted, cleverly complicated, and shrewdly paced. I suspected everyone, and for good reason, as each had their own hidden agendas and they were all actually up to something. While the storylines and characters were complex, I enjoyed the authors’ surprising wit and engaging and descriptive writing style. Their contributions meshed seamlessly and I never would have guessed it was a team effort. The book was written in the first person POV of a newly hired medical examiner in San Francisco, a place I’ve never been and a vocation that gives me the willies to contemplate, yet I was as intrigued by the story as much as the oddly compelling characters and I was truly fascinated by her delightfully unusual living accommodations in a cable car house.
Momma_Becky 4 months ago
First Cut is suitably named, and it goes into some pretty disturbing details about Jessie's job as a medical examiner. Normally, I'm not overly squeamish, but this gave me a little more than I bargained for, and parts of it did bother me. Given Melinek's background, I have no doubt that her attention to detail with this story is accurate, but there are just some things about the world of autopsy that I don't need to know. I think I'm probably not the target audience for this one, but I do recognize the talented writing, and the authors certainly know how to set a scene. The story does have a pretty good pace, and other than those somewhat gruesome details that I mentioned earlier, it held my interest. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a thriller, but it there is good suspense, and the characters, while not all likable, are interesting. In the end, First Cut may be a little more detailed on autopsies than I prefer, but it was worth the read.
Reader4102 4 months ago
There is a new medical examiner in town and her name is Dr. Jessie Teska and she is drowning under a mountain of school-loan debt. She left the LA Medical Examiner’s office under less than ideal circumstances and moved to the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office. The SFME is understaffed and underfunded and the tools of her trade are no way adequate while her 372-square-foot apartment is a converted cable car and costs $1900/month. She knows no one in town so she works. This is the debut novel, and first in a planned series, of former medical examiner Judy Melinek and it’s a good one. The author’s well-drawn main character is smart, knows and loves her job, and is a bit reckless. The author takes her time revealing the real plot of her novel and it’s worth the wait. Melinek’s descriptions of the what goes on during an autopsy are graphic and may be too much for some readers. While you may not have an interest in the graphic details of all the autopsies the author shares with us, the reader will undoubtedly learn more than she might have thought she needed to know. This was a hard book to put down because of the likability of the main character. Only once was I disturbed by what I was reading and that was when Jessie got into the car of a man she has only met once and ends up leaving the city with him to a destination he refuses to share even before she got in the car. If you’re fan of television shows, books, and films featuring medical examiners, then this is the book for you. If you're a fan of the early Cornwell books, this book is for you. It deserves to be near the top of your to-be-read list. My thanks to Harper and Edelweiss for an eARC.
Alix Maza 4 months ago
Love me a good medical drama! I've read A TON of police procedurals so it's refreshing to read a medical procedural. After ten months, thirty-one-year-old Dr. Czeslawa (Jessie) Teska leaves her position as a forensic pathologist in Los Angeles and is hired as an assistant medical examiner in San Francisco. Melinek's expertise as a Board Certified Forensic Pathologist is readily apparent. The author goes into great detail describing how Jessie conducts postmortems and meticulously records the results. The main character is quirky, smart and a great heroine! I can definitely see this as the start of a series. Jessie is a highly-qualified professional with a conscience. Her desire to tell it like it is instead of pleasing Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Howe, brings her into conflict not just with the big boss, but also with her immediate supervisor, Dr. Michael Stone. Melinek and her husband, Mitchell touch on corruption in the judicial system; financial malfeasance in the corporate world; and Jessie's complicated and disturbing past. There is even a dollop of romance to spice things up a bit. It turns out that relocating to San Francisco might not have been Jessie's smartest move. She lands in deep trouble when her passion for the truth places her career and her life in jeopardy. CSI, Grey's Anatomy and drug dealing bad gu
RobinLovesReading 4 months ago
Dr. Jessie Teska's newest case as a medical examiner, and a new job at that, has her realizing that what was first thought to be an overdose was actually something much more - murder. She wants to push things. To investigate. Instead she faces the obstacle of going against her supervisor. She is told to wrap things up, but Jessie just can't let it go. What is more is her work environment, now in San Francisco. She is completely nonplussed. At her previous job in Los Angeles, everything was shiny and clean. She also had technology at her disposal. Now, things are grimy, rather old school. Adding in the suspicions about the body on her slab, how can Jessie even work? Meanwhile, more deaths abound. Jessie takes no time to connect it with the first case. Shockingly she discovers that there is an opiod crisis..Can Jessie get to the bottom of things, and stay safe in the meantime? I love how Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell wrote this book. I felt like I was there with Jessie, asking questions and demanding answers. I also enjoyed that it was not too technical, even though it was gruesome at times. The fact that Melinek is a forensic psychologist helped to give Jessie's character a sense of authenticity. First Cut proved to be a job well-done, so much so that I do hope we get to see Jessie again. Many thanks to Hanover Square Press and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
diane92345 4 months ago
First a thief is killed after stealing a laptop and the laptop is taken back by the shooter. Then a prostitute is killed for the drugs hidden in her digestive system. But when a nurse with no history of drug use is found dead of an overdose, new medical examiner Jessie Teska becomes suspicious. Are these deaths related? The answer is in First Cut, the first fiction book from the Working Stiff writing team. With a real medical examiner as one of the authors, this book is brutally authentic. I mean that in a good way. In fact, that is my favorite part of the book. Gory, but realistic, details of what happens to humans when they die are fully immersed in this amateur detective procedural. Who knew that animal scavengers eat their human victim’s eyes and lips first. Other details also seem genuine like thieves using a spark plug to break car windows. Another detail is the fact that Jessie and Tommy, her brother, are both deep into Polish culture and I don’t recall any other thrillers that I have read that address that culture. Jessie does have a love interest, or two. Overall, if you like medical thrillers, you will love First Cut too. I adored the graphic details. If that is not your taste, I would suggest skipping this book. For me, it is definitely worth 4 stars and I’m looking forward to the next in the series! Thanks to Hanover Square Press, Harlequin Books, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
TeeP2 4 months ago
When a book has a certain formula that captures my attention, I get a little giddy; and this one fits the bill. It has a flawed, but relatable, main character, love interests to the left and right of her, several mysteries to solve with villains in abundance, and diverse characters that keep the plot moving along at a rapid, engaging pace. I am so satisfied that First Cut is one of my first reads for 2020. I mean, I could have really picked a dud to start out the year, but instead, I happen upon this gem of a mystery/thriller!
KrisAnderson_TAR 4 months ago
First Cut by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell has Dr. Jessie Teska starting over in San Francisco. Jessie along with her beagle pup, Bea rent a converted cable car. She then dives into her job as assistant medical examiner. Jessie notices an alarming number of drug related deaths that are similar. It starts her investigating that takes her down a dangerous path. Readers who enjoy forensics will be thrilled with First Cut. The authors experience shines through in First Cut. The story is well-written and the story proceeds at a thoughtful pace. I did find First Cut to be a slow starter, but it soon becomes engrossing. I thought the characters were realistic and developed. I liked Jessie with her Polish background, cute little dog named Bea, and her quirky abode. I thought she was spunky. She leaves a job with her mentor along with state of the art facilities behind in Los Angeles to get a fresh start. We do not find out why right away. Clues are dropped with the full story emerging later in the book. The descriptions are detailed allowing readers to visualize the scenes which brings the story alive. Be prepared to handle the gory details related to the autopsies (the sounds, smells and what the medical examiner sees during the examination). There is one corpse that was truly repulsive courtesy to the explosion of fluids. The mystery is complex and multifaceted. I enjoyed following Jessie as she delved into the case searching for the truth. It is a modern case that involves more than drugs (I do not want to spoil it for you). You will be amazed at how it all plays out in the end. First Cut is a story that will you keep you guessing.
nfam 4 months ago
A Medical Examiner Connects a Series of Mysterious Deaths Dr. Jessie Teska is hoping for a fresh start in the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office. She had to leave her job in LA because of personal problems. However, the new job has some drawbacks. The LA facility was gleaming state-of-the-art. The morgue in San Francisco is dingy and understaffed. Still, it’s a job and Jessie wants to make a good impression. Jessie’s first case takes her to the Tenderloin with her new boss, Dr. Michael Stone. The body of a man has been shot three times while trying to steal a computer. Jessie finds a piece of the computer’s serial number embedded in the man’s tissue. This is the first mysterious death, and it appears to be tied to the next two. Her boss wants the cases closed, but Jessie needs to find out what’s going on, and steps into a complex criminal conspiracy. This is a gritty medical mystery told from the point of the medical examiner. I like Jessie’s character. She’s smart and in spite of the difficult working and living conditions she wants to succeed in her new job. The background of San Francisco is perfect for the story. The author did a good job describing the setting. It added significantly to the plot. I enjoyed this book. The mystery is good and the ending satisfying. However, if you’re squeamish about blood, this may not be your book. I received this book from Harlequin for this review.
BarbTRC 4 months ago
First Cut by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell is a standalone novel. We meet our heroine, Jessie Teska, immediately as she arrives for her first day as an assistant medical examiner in San Francisco. Jessie left her old job in Los Angeles because she needed to be on her own, and not close to the man she had fallen in love with. We will learn a bit more about that relationship and why she left nearer to the end, but he technically has nothing to do with this story line. Jessie is immediately bombarded with a number of cases, with one being an overdose that is considered an accident. As Jessie takes control of the case, she discovers some other deaths being similar, causing her to delve deeper in to the overdose case. Her superiors want her to close the case as an accident, putting pressure on her, despite her belief that something was wrong. Jessie begins to suspect her boss as knowing more than he is letting on, trying to push her off the case. In a short time, with bodies showing up in the lab, Jessie begins see that this could be a murder and drug case, which now puts her own life in danger. Despite no help from her superiors, Jessie does work closely with some of the detectives to try and find the truth. What follows is an intense, gritty, exciting story line about the world of medical examiners, with a lot of detailed descriptions. Melinek is a forensic pathologist in real life, and uses much of her knowledge in detailing everything throughout the book. First Cut is a complex and fast paced story that kept our attention from start to finish, also giving me a feel similar to Patricia Cornwall. I enjoy mysteries and thrillers, which this was, but there was so much detail and explicitly gory scenes as they dissect on the human body, which gave me mixed feelings about how much I needed to know. Lol However, this was a good compelling mystery and very well written.
Fredreeca2001 4 months ago
Jessie is starting a new job in a new city. She is also running from her past. She is hoping this change of scenery helps. But, this too backfires as she finds herself in the middle of murders, drug dealers and other elaborate schemes. Jessie is doing an autopsy on a young woman. There is just something not right. She can’t quite figure it out. The further she investigates the more hinky (yes that is a word) this death becomes. And boy, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive! This book starts off with a bang. I had a hard time putting it down. But, as the story unfolded, I figured out most of the mystery….bummer. I hate when a story does that to me. I like to be kept guessing till the end. I still enjoyed this novel. It is intriguing and completely captivating. This tale also has some pretty graphic scenes. So, it might not be for everyone. However, it has a great setting of San Francisco and I thoroughly enjoyed Jessie. She has some hang ups. But she is not dumb! That is a huge plus in my book. This is a wild ride indeed! I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.