Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Morgue: A Life in Death” as Want to Read:
Morgue: A Life in Death
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Morgue: A Life in Death

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  2,023 ratings  ·  342 reviews
In this clear-eyed, gritty, and enthralling narrative, Dr. Vincent DiMaio and veteran crime writer Ron Franscell guide us behind the morgue doors to tell a fascinating life story through the cases that have made Di Maio famous-from the exhumation of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald to the complex issues in the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

Beginning with his street
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 17th 2016 by St. Martin's Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Morgue, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Morgue

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,023 ratings  ·  342 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Morgue: A Life in Death
This is a 10 star read. The author, one of the Grand Old Men of pathologists, medical examiners, in the US, deconstructs some famous (and not so well-known) cases without the front-page headlines designed to influence us emotionally into wanting a court to find guilt in a suspect just because they ought to be guilty!

The first case is Trayvon Martin. (view spoiler)
Diane S ☔
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love puzzles, it is the reason I read mysteries. Trying to put the clues together, see what fits, what doesn't, try to figure out the killer. Of course that is armchair detecting, the mysteries are often not real, plus I am notoriously bad at it.. The cases in this book are very real. DiMaio has worked on some of the biggest cases there are.

The Trayvon case is the first presented and of course it was all over the news. Lee Hare ey Oswald and the conspiracy theorists who insisted that Oswald wa
April Henry
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book is kind of a mishmash of cases, some famous, some not well known. I much preferred the book Working Stiff.

What really bothered me was the author's clear racial biases in writing about the Trayvon Martin case. "Martin's parents endorsed a petition on called for Zimmerman's arrest and it got 1.3 million "signatures"; Reverend Al Sharpton and the rest of the racial-grievance industrial complex showed up to stir the pot...." " President Barack Obama elevated the case to a presi
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Despite DiMaio's claims that being a forensic pathologist is nothing like we see on tv, this book is filled with some of the most sensational cases of his career, and read somewhat like a tv/movie script at times. The writing fits very much into the true crime genre, lurid and bloodily detailed. While the processes he reveals to us are undoubtedly also those applied to the everyday corpse, what the audience gets here are the ones that stand out. Child murders abound.

None of the above was critic
Within the first chapter I started disliking the author. His views as seen in different chapters are a bit outdated and his judgemental attitude to certain people just made it worse. The cases themselves were interesting but he gives you the very basics of the case and leaves out a lot of information. I really wanted to like this book but it was not for me.
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The renowned forensic pathologist, Dr. Vincent Di Maio and veteran crime writer, Ron Franscell take readers behind the morgue doors to offer eye-opening and compelling stories through a series of cases.

Medical examiners have an important job - to determine how and why a person died. In legal terms, the cause and manner of death. The cause is the disease or injury that killed the deceased—a hea
♥ Sandi ❣
Ten real life case studies from the personal files of one of the most infamous forensic pathologists. Called to revisit many cases, both old and new, Dr Vincent Di Maio, medical examiner, became an expert on gun shot wounds and has preformed over nine thousand autopsies. Told in 10 vignettes from Trayvon Martin to Lee Harvey Oswald to Vincent van Gogh, Dr Di Maio has played a part in detailing his findings, when at times his findings contradicted what law enforcement claimed and was unpopular wi ...more
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received this ARC in exchange for a truthful review of the book.
I have a natural interest in all things forensic, and found the subject matter to be compelling before I received the book.
The instant I began reading it (yesterday), I was loathe to put it down. I finished it in under 24 hours, and also managed to sleep and work part of that time ;).
It was utterly gripping! In addition to being a fascinating look into a world I can only imagine (and, in fact began imagining in childhood with Quin
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This pick was a bit outside my norm, as I don't venture too much into non-fiction areas for entertainment. But this is what I love about the Goodreads forum-through my friends I get to see who's reading what and expand my horizons into new territories!

I'm a huge fan of the show Forensic Files, I think I have watched every one that has ever been made. It's this love of the how and why of forensics that made me reach out to grab this book from NetGalley.

Vincent DiMaio is a renowned Forensics Path
Eve (Between The Bookends)
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was fascinating.

Hats off to anyone that can do this work and not go crazy. I enjoyed this book immensely. Each chapter is a different case Dr. Vincent Di Maio has worked on or helped out with. Most (if not all) are high profile ones. Trayvon Martin, Lee Harvey Oswald , West Memphis Three, Phil Spector, and even Vincent Van Go. There are a few that involve babies and kids, so be warned if you plan on reading this one.

My only complaint, and it's a small one. I would have liked a bit mor
Apr 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Morgue is a collection of true crime stories told by experienced medical examiner Vincent DiMaio. Every story involves real lives and a real death, but often seem as if ripped from a mystery novel. The truth really is stranger than fiction. Did you know that coroners are elected to their position and don't necessarily have medical training? That bullets don't propel a human body backwards-- that's just the stuff of movies?

The author seems to have a strange preoccupation with race and a thinly ve
Apr 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
By the end of the first chapter, the author, a white male forensic pathologist, dismisses the entire Black Lives Matter movement. As if the systemic profiling of black people by the police is just a figment of our imaginations. It's infuriating. And with George Zimmerman trying to auction off the gun he used to shoot Trayvon Martin, the last thing I want to hear is that forensic findings cancel out racial bias.
Paula  Phillips
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it

On the lunchbreaks at work, you can often find people reading and every now and again one of their books might catch your eye. A work colleague of mine was reading Morgue: A Life if Death and it sounded interesting especially since lately I have been back on a death buzz as such after reading a few more mysteries and a non-fiction book written by a ME called Do My Cats Eat my Eyeballs ? which was questions about death. I have always been fascinated with the forensics side of death and always tho
Kathleen Minde
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked up copy of Morgue: A Life in Death by Dr. Vincent DiMaio on the recommendation of a friend who has a few of his books in her collection of creepy murder mysteries and true-crime novels. Written in collaboration with novelist and true-crime writer Ron Franscell, Morgue details the history of modern-day pathology and forensics. Covering topics from the forensic crime shows that solve the mystery within an hour to the little-known politics of forensics to some of DiMaio’s most famous cases ...more
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Forensic evidence is the bedrock of justice. It doesn't change its story or misremember what it saw. It doesn't cower when a mob gathers on the courthouse steps. It doesn't run away or go silent out of fear. It tells us honestly and candidly what we need to know, even when we want it to say something else."

What a truly engrossing in depth look into forensic pathology. Some of the cases covered are very troubling, but its comforting to know that skilled professionals can help serve justice. High
Emily Duchon
I don't know why I read these books--I always think I'll find them informative, but they usually just have the same case stories and just make me really paranoid. You'll like it if you're into this stuff and read every book on the subject that comes out. I found it pedantic and it made me wonder why medical examiners seemingly have such large egos?

Regardless, a few of the case stories were interesting and I did read it through in one evening.

Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is written by a forensic pathologist who has worked on some high profile cases in his career. I'm not sure I would have started by saying I was the one who got Zimmerman off in the Trayvon Martin case, though. He explains that he says it like he sees it and people often don't like it, especially if people feel a murder is racially motivated. This, then, is my introduction to Vincent Di Maio. His expert opinion on some of these high profile cases will go against the grain - many times.

Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Being an Medical Examiner sounds like a cool job. Digging around in dead folks always sounded interesting to me. But I bet there's a lot of paperwork. Morgue: A Life in Death is about DiMaio's fascinating career as an ME (don't worry, he doesn't talk about the paperwork).
DiMaio's career was sounds like it's from one of those crime fiction novel serials that, some how, always find our lead in some high-profile case. And by book 20 in the series you can't help but think "Come on, no one's career
Ashley DiNorcia
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating look into the world of forensic pathology and the role it plays (or doesn't play) in our justice system. I found it particularly interesting that we have only about 500 forensic pathologists working in the US. Even more so that the incredibly outdated "coroner" system (an elected position in which you require zero medical background or training) is still running rampant.

This book delves into some high profile and highly disturbing cases, and I feel like I should mention there are a f
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Di Maio offers a unique glimpse into a dying profession: forensic pathologist. He discusses his career and some of the high-profile cases he has worked on. From testifying in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial, to exhuming Lee Harvey Oswald, he’s been involved in some of the most controversial forensic mysteries of our time. Since he is a specialist in gunshot wounds, he is called upon to consult in many unusual cases, including the murder trial of Phil Spector and even the historical ...more
May 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
There is no way in hell I can finish this book. The very first chapter is about Trayvon Martin and leaves a sour taste and icky feeling in my soul. We get very few details on the case but most of the chapter is shit-talking and blaming everyone from the victim himself to former president Obama for fanning the flames. And ingratiating of himself as an expert. God give me the confidence of a (mediocre) white man.

The next chapter begins with a family tree of doctors and I just can’t after the emot
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a very gritty and unforgettable book about examining death. The cases such as Travon Martin,and Lee Harvey Oswald was captivating. The authors tone is this book was very haunting and chilling. From the reader's perspective,you can tell that they tried to remain as unbiased as possible. It was a very hard book to get through.

Honestly,I could not have the career that these people did. Too many personal opinions will clash with my profession. Unfathomable,and unparalleled,this book would t
I think I would have liked this more if he focused on his worst or most interesting cases instead of name dropping all the "famous" cases he was involved in. This includes testifying for the defense in the Trevyon Martin case. Yes, I know he only did it because his investigation of the materials fit with what the defense was wanting to prove. I think he was trying to be edgy and it drastically failed.
Bruce Gargoyle
I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley.

Ten Second Synopsis:
An in-depth look at forensic medicine in the context of the justice system. The author details his involvement in some high profile cases in which forensic evidence could be disputed.

There are a number of highly absorbing cases discussed in Morgue, both high profile, such as the death of Trayvon Martin, and otherwise. The interesting thing about this book in particular is that it addresses issues of fore
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Well written, fascinating. And also it bugs me when someone says they do not have political views or an agenda when they so clearly do.
Jul 17, 2016 added it
Shelves: quit
I'm writing this review only because of the distaste I experienced reading this arrogant egomaniac's biased and judgemental tone, at times resorting to conjecture, in relaying the unfortunate histories of some of the subjects in this book. Yes, these are murderers. They should obviously be held responsible for their heinous behavior and not be let loose in society. However, this man blames them for their childhood circumstances, judges them based on their parents' behaviors, and mocks personalit ...more
Amanda Kramp
Apr 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
Racist trash.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, true-crime
This is probably one of the best true crime books I've read to date. It's fascinating to look at crime through the eyes of a coroner, most especially because DiMaio is a doctor. I already knew that many coroners were not doctors, but I didn't think that was very common. Apparently I was wrong. That's unfortunate. DiMaio's training and perspective made this all the more interesting and credible. Perhaps I'm a snob, but I think trained physicians should be performing this kind of work. Period.

As f
Sue Smith
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
D. Vincent DiMaio definitely has led a very interesting life but he can't tell a story to save his life. As interesting as the cases were that he showcases for us, his narrative is as dry as toast. Thank goodness he includes some pictures!!! (Nothing too racy, but definitely informative to the cases he puts in his book).
Louise Victoria
Jul 29, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It could be an amazing book, maybe my favorite, but I couldn't ignore the racism in the first chapters.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Obsessed with Tru...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Morgue: A Life in Death by Vincent DiMaio 1 3 Jul 29, 2016 10:35AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World's Most Terrifying Murderers
  • The Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating Death
  • Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner
  • Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls & Other Creepy Collectibles
  • Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist
  • Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History
  • Bom Dia, Verônica
  • Serial Killers - Made in Brazil
  • Casos de Família
  • Suicidas
  • Arquivos Serial Killers: Limited Edition
  • The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine
  • The Damned
  • Down Among the Dead Men: A Year in the Life of a Mortuary Technician
  • O sorriso da hiena
  • Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead Do Tell Tales
  • Ed & Lorraine Warren: Demonologistas: Arquivos sobrenaturais
  • Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession
See similar books…

Related Articles

The prolific and beloved author John Grisham, known for his courtroom thrillers, is back this month with a new pageturner, A Time for Mercy,...
32 likes · 5 comments