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Coroner's Journal: Stalking Death in Louisiana

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  600 Ratings  ·  63 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,012)
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Jul 02, 2012 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Oct 04, 2011 Bunny rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 28, 2009 Catten rated it did not like it
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.

Mar 27, 2012 Adrienne rated it really liked it

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.

Oct 01, 2008 Nicole rated it liked it
have read many forensics books- this was not as compelling or scientifically satisfying.
Lyn Ehley
Jun 26, 2009 Lyn Ehley rated it really liked it
Amazing to still see bodies as people in such despair.
Jan 23, 2016 Fishface rated it really liked it
This was a great read. The author keeps it real at all times, confronting you as well as he can in print with the sights, sounds, smells and emotional outrages of his work as a parish coroner. He focuses always on the victims anf how their situations affect him and other responders at crime, accident and other disaster scenes. My one quibble is the way they start out saying this will be a book about post-Katrina cleanup, then it turns into an autobiography for the first quarter opf the book, and ...more
Dec 27, 2015 Danielle rated it it was amazing
This was a quick read for me. Although 'morbid', I found it a realistic and heartfelt account of a very difficult job. Cataldie did a great job of balancing 'regular' cases with accounts about serial killers. This made it a down to earth telling of the wide array of deaths that occur. I feel like he could write several more books on his unpleasant profession and all the terrors he has seen. As a screenwriter, I found this to be a great resource as well for future stories. Author gave honest acco ...more
Lauren (strangled)
Jun 28, 2013 Lauren (strangled) rated it really liked it
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
Jul 05, 2015 Cat. rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
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
Jan 27, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2015
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.

Jan 14, 2016 Amy rated it liked it
This is a well written book, written in a conversational/journal manner, it was an easy read. The Louisiana coroner recalls some of his most interesting and alarming cases, including the time spent in the aftermath of Katrina and a serial killer that was terrorizing the area around the LSU campus. Not for the faint of heart or easily disturbed - but great for those of us who are already disturbed : )
Hallie Gaffney
Jun 14, 2016 Hallie Gaffney rated it really liked it
This book was not what I originally expected. Dr. Cataldie is a coroner who expresses his own human emotions about some of his most memorable cases. As someone who is familiar with medicolegal death investigation, this was a refreshing take on the daily tasks that these careers must face. Very professional, but with a empathetic twist. Good read!
Feb 04, 2015 Tracy rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 13, 2014 Susan Reed rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 18, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can't complain it delivered exactly what it promised. Very engaging and honest in the detachment one needs to use just to get the toughest job done. I work in an ER so seeing the troubling situations on a daily basis can take a toll and does. Thankfully you learn to take a step back and do the job needed to help the person in need. Highly recommend!
Apr 03, 2009 Diane rated it liked it
"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
Jan 15, 2016 SouthWestZippy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Very open and honest look into the life of a chief coroner and his duties. Does not go overboard in details but does give you a very real look into death. Made up of short stories of different types of death and how each one affected him in a different way.
Aug 04, 2015 Roxanne rated it really liked it
This book is not for the faint of heart and I had trouble for that reason. The subject matter of dead people and looking for a serial killer was a little heavy for me. I am sure this is an excellent book for those that enjoy this type of book.
Minty McBunny
Nov 06, 2014 Minty McBunny rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, november-2014
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
Mar 11, 2015 Mandi Martin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Jul 08, 2011 Karyl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Apr 24, 2011 Veronica Noechel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary Waters
Jul 04, 2012 Mary Waters rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 26, 2015 Shannon Johnson rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 03, 2014 Nikki rated it it was ok
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."
Jan 19, 2016 Deborah rated it really liked it
Such a good book - so well written that the gore isn't as noticeable as the humanity the author brings to the autopy table etc
Mar 14, 2015 Heidi rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 08, 2014 Azra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Taken from the author's journals, this was hard to put down.
Nov 19, 2014 Kayla rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014, memoir
Fascinating stories, mediocre writing.
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