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Coroner's Journal: Stalking Death in Louisiana

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  488 ratings  ·  55 reviews
The frank and unvarnished memoir of a life spent stalking death in the Deep South.

Baton Rouge is a little town with big-city problems. Rich with Creole history, colorful locals, and a strong sense of community, it's also the home of Napoleonic codes, stubborn cops, and a sometimes-troubled leadership. Baton Rouge-which literally means "Red Stick"-lives up to its bloody n
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 16th 2006 by Putnam Adult
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Hi, here I am again, Ms. Morbid. This time, I've read a book written by a coroner. And I loved it.

I've actually owned this book for several years without reading it. I'm sure glad that I finally did. The title of the book says it all. Louis Cataldie was the coroner of East Baton Rouge parish for a number of years. During that time, he kept a daily journal. The end result is this book, where he has compiled his journal notes into a more cohesive, readable format.

I thought the book was organized v
This could have been a very interesting book, but Cataldie frequently leaves out the tidbits true crime readers want and instead engages in annoying navel gazing.

Patricia Cornwell encouraged him to write the book, but must have forgotten to tell him what it takes to keep a reader's attention. It took me a month and a half to get through the book, and it's not particularly long. Two thumbs down.

I have to say, I really should be more careful about the order of my reading material. This wasn't the best book to read almost directly after Dead Man Walking. It's hard to maintain deep thoughts regarding whether the death penalty is right or wrong when I'm reading about the horrendous murders Cataldie has witnessed in his career.

This is a wonderfully written book. It reminds me of Ann Rule's true crime books, where she has four or five stories in one novel. My biggest complaint about true cri

I cannot review this book without personal bias, as I am lucky enough to have met the book's author. He is a truly wonderful human being and a testament to all those who go to work and do the best job that they can, then get up the next morning and ask if they can do their best job better.

For all your hard work and dedication, which continues to this day in other capacities benefiting the state of Louisiana, we thank you.

have read many forensics books- this was not as compelling or scientifically satisfying.
Lyn Ehley
Amazing to still see bodies as people in such despair.
Lauren (strangled)
Jun 28, 2013 Lauren (strangled) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Lauren (strangled) by: goodreads
Shelves: 2013
Empathetic, understanding, and compassionate. Dr. Cataldie has a wonderful way with words, which places him in the category of someone who should write a memoir.. unfortunately, life-story telling has become so popular that it seems anyone who can put an interesting spin on their childhood or comedic career writes one these days, whether or not they actually have the skill to write. He is exactly the type of man, with a sound and careful attitude, who you'd want to handle your handle your deceas ...more
Confession time: I really enjoy reading medical biographies. I also enjoy reading stuff about crime, dead bodies, and coroners. Hence, my enjoyment of the (early) Kay Scarpetta books, among others

I was primed to read this book: Cataldie is currently the Louisiana state medical examiner. This book deals with his career as the coroner in Baton Rouge, a post he held for over a decade, I believe.

It's a fascinating book, but not nearly as fully formed as I would have hoped. There are a lot of signs
It was hard to put the book down. It is memoir of Dr. Louis Cataldie who was East Baton Rouge's coroner. He was compassionate and honorable person who had to investigate deaths. I enjoyed his stories although they were not in depth but again I was familiar with most of them since I live nearby. He explained some of the legal process and duties as a coroner. He was blatant about his views of the political process but wrote well.

I love the different perspective that this book provided. This is the first one I have read that gave me insight into the mental and emotional process that a professional goes through to help bring justice to families and society. I know forensic professionals are to stay objective, Dr Cataldie gives us a look at how he accomplishes this. It was a great read.
Susan Reed
Wonderful description not only of cases but of politics and small town life in the American South.
How you view this one will depend on what you bring to it in terms of scientific knowledge and curiosity as well as exposure to and feelings about the institution that is the American South with all its political foibles.
"And after more than ten years as a deputy coroner and then as its chief coroner, Louis Cataldie has seen his fair share of unusual and disturbing cases. They range from the bizarre to the heartbreaking: an LSU professor killed by a barn door; the bones of a young woman found scattered in a churchyard; and as many as three serial killers loose at one time under Cataldie's watch. He has worked the scene of one of the Malvo/ Muhammad Beltway Sniper shootings and had a hand in bringing to justice s ...more
Minty McBunny
This was an interesting, grim & downright disturbing book. The writing style was jagged and unpolished, but I get it, he's a coroner, not a writer. I did get a good sense if the dignity & humanity Catalde brings to his job & admire him for that.
Mandi Martin
couldn't read it fast enough.
I was surprised at the emotion and honesty the author had. I expected the book to have a more sterile feel than it did. There was an incredible amount of sympathy for his...uhm....clients? I am always fascinated by serial killers and the coroner's perspective gave it a new twist. One part that stood out for me was him explaining the need for humor in jobs so morbid. He tells a story of joking with paramedics at a gruesome crime scene. The idea of having to remain det
This book is an amazing memoir written by a former coroner of Louisiana. Yes, the book can be graphic, but not in a gratuitous way. Cataldie gives details of some of the murders in order to engender more sympathy for a murderer's victims, or for the mental anguish a person must be in to take his or her own life. The main thread of this book is simply compassion. There is no sniggering behind the scenes when a man's sexual fantasies goes wrong, and no holier-than-thou judgment because a victim ha ...more
Veronica Noechel
I picked this one up on impulse. I'm a fan on forensic science, I'm very fond of reading about the Louisiana bayou and its outskirts, and love a good true crime novel, so it looked promising, but the writing was rough in the beginning and only got worse from there. The narrator offered a lot of opinions without creating enough of a personal rapport with the reader, so he comes off as bossy and unlikable. The only things we really end up knowing about him, on a personal level, are the names of hi ...more
Not very well written. In the introductory chapters, especially, Cataldie tends to veer off topic in the middle of paragraphs, and it gets hard to follow his writing. A pretty interesting lead, nevertheless.
Mary Waters
This book was written in a rather unusual style; pure stream of consciousness just as in a true journal. He jumps around a bit but that is how stream of thought works. He gives an amazing amount of detail so be prepared. If you are at all adverse to reading about descriptions of murders this may not be a book for you. If you can get passed the more gory details and see the story for what it is; a man trying to understand why people do what they do to each other, this is a great read. On amazon.c ...more
Shannon Johnson
very vivid wording,my heart broke for all the victims,but maybe the most for the baby abandoned in the garbage.And the 12 year old girl killed by her step father,both made me cry.
A bit repetitive, and a bit too simple. Cataldie misses opportunities to discuss difficult subjects with depth, but instead repeats platitudes about how "death is hard."
Real accounts with real emotions. I had to read another book at the same time to get through all the sad, horrific deaths the author wrote about. Especially the child deaths.
Taken from the author's journals, this was hard to put down.
Fascinating stories, mediocre writing.
Jan 21, 2015 Karen added it
Pretty interesting stuff !
This book isn't the most exciting, and it is not the "cliff-hanger" type. However, I loved this book! The author offered great insight as to why bad things happen in the world. And I valued his perspective behind other's motives, both good and evil. I think I read this book at the perfect time, just when I was feeling he most hopeless about society. It gave me a new outlook on my own profession as a social worker who works in mental health. Overall, it was a great read!!!
Nick Rohlfes
This book was a very suspensful book to read from cover to cover. As each chilling story unfolds, it is hard to stop reading. I found it very interesting to hear about how coroners go about their work and reading about the different crimes that happened while cataldie was a coroner in Louisiana. This book is very graphic, and very sad at times, but is a good read if you can handle it.
Lisa Eirene
This book had the potential to be really good and interesting. The beginning part about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was good and enthralling. But the bulk of the book was about other stories in his career as coroner. My only problem with the book was that it was written in journal form--which I don't like. I felt like it could have been written better.
Kathy  Petersen
I'm a big fan of CSI, Bones, et al; but I am well aware that the shows are fiction. Therefore I enjoyed this memoir from a Louisiana coroner, which was rather like listening to a pleasant if graphic monologue over a couple of beers. Cataldie does take the opportunity to ride a few of his hobbyhorses, but, hey, why not? It's his book.
Miranda Boyer
This book was intense at times but worth every page. I have my BA in Criminal Justice, and for the first time in a long time I found myself remembering why I had chose that degree. Miles from that now, but was super appreciative of Cataldie and all his work, but more for sharing very intimate thoughts an memories of a Coroner and deputy.
Wasn't bowled over by the information delivered, although there were a few bits of interesting material. Nothing for me to really complain about, but it just felt bland, if that is a criticism.
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