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First Cut

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  126 ratings  ·  79 reviews
“Scalpel sharp.”—Karin Slaughter

A hard-nosed medical examiner. A suspicious case. An underworld plot only she saw coming.

San Francisco’s newest medical examiner, Dr. Jessie Teska, has made a chilling discovery. A suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister: a drug lord’s attempt at a murderous cover-up. But as Jessie digs deeper, she faces unexpected
Hardcover, 1st edition, 368 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Hanover Square Press
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  126 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you are fascinated by forensics this books for you! Judy Melinek wrote this enthralling book with her husband T. J. Mitchell. Melinek works as a medical examiner and that really gave an authentic realistic feel to the story. Dr. Jessie Teska just transferred from the LA Office of the medical examiner to its SF counterpart. She is surprise by the rundown state of the SF office especially after being spoiled by the sparkling new stainless steel LA office. But Jessie doesn’t have much time to ...more
DJ Sakata
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
Chris  C - A Midlife Wife
Totally different type of story. Got to love medical mysteries.
The story comes from a different view where the main character is a SF city medical examiner. In a city that big you know there are plenty of areas for intriguing investigations.

Jessie comes across a case that is extremely similar to another case that she had prior in another department. It nags her and bugs her so she decides to start digging a little bit deeper than a normal investigation. She runs across many
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was convinced after reading this book that medical examiners could solve the cases much better than the cops as the dead bodies spoke to them.

And Dr. Jessie Teska was one such doc who could find clues in the minute bruises on the body. And boy, was she a genius. This was the story from the POV of a medical examiner and how dead bodies and murders and examiners were all linked in multiple cases.

My first book by the author duo, I loved reading it. The writing had medical jargon interspersed, and
Are you fascinated by the intimate details of the job of medical examiner? If you are, try this novel. I was the wrong reader for this book--for me, it provided too much information about Jessie's job and, combined with lots of unlikable characters and a plot sideline dealing with startups and cryptocurrency, just didn't work for me. Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the ARC.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just zipped through this one and I truly hope it is the debut of a new series featuring Dr. Jessie Teska. It's a crime thriller whose protagonist is a spunky Polish medical examiner/forensic pathologist in the city of San Fransisco. The plot is complicated and the details are incredible as would be expected since the author is actually a medical examiner who wrote a memoir, "Working Stiff: Two Yeears, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner" along with her husband, T.J. Mitchell. I ...more
Susanne Gulde
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebooks, arc, fiction, netgalley
I received a digital review copy from the publisher through NetGalley for this book to be published January 2020.
I did not really enjoy this book, although I can see that others, including our library patrons, will like it.
I found the forensic scenes interesting and well done, but wasn't interested in Jessie's personal story. I didn't connect with her personality and found it annoying how many times she had to mention her Beemer. I had guessed why she left Los Angeles, which wasn't completely
Robin Loves Reading
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
Kimmery Martin
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm a sucker for any fiction that gives a realistic behind-the-scenes glimpse of a secretive, highly specialized world... and the office of a medical examiner definitely qualifies. This novel was gritty, enthralling, tightly plotted, and beautifully written. I highly recommend!
Amy Rogers
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing review: Good science, good plot, great character and setting: FIRST CUT is a must-read for fans of forensic fiction. The irresistible voice and fascinating true stories from these authors’ first book, the nonfiction forensic pathology memoir WORKING STIFF, now run through their debut novel of mystery and suspense. About the first half of FIRST CUT has loads of forensic pathology detail. What I particularly appreciate is how the science is absolutely necessary for the plot. ...more
Donna Hines
"Always go with your first impression." "The body never lies."
The dark net comes to light in this fabulous new thriller!
The content is clinically driven right from Dr. Jessie's morgue as she becomes enamored in catching a killer.
She's the new medical examiner whose been tasked with an opiod overdose that winds up opening the flood gates to a host of deaths.
Could these deaths be connected?
The plot thickens beautifully so don't be quick to judge as you'll miss the M.O.'s and the clues to each
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing

When a super-speed reader doesn't have a car for a month due to a predatory car insurance industry, you can get a LOT of reading done!!

I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do .

A hard-nosed San Francisco medical examiner uncovers an underworld plot in this fiction debut by the New York Times
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, 2020, for-review
3.5 stars

I read Working Stiff back in 2015 and really enjoyed Dr. Melinek's account of her time as a medical examiner in New York City. So, I was eager to check out this author duo's first foray into fiction, First Cut. For the most part, I enjoyed the book. I really liked the main character, Jessie. She felt authentic to me. She is someone I would love to see in another mystery in the future. I'm not sure if this will be a series or not. I appreciated all of the detail that that author was able
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it
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. Unlike her state-of-the-art workplace in L. A., with its "stainless-steel surgical stations," Jessie's current office is understaffed and poorly equipped. Dr. Judy Melinek's "First Cut," written with her husband, T. J. Mitchell, takes us into the morgue with Jessie and her colleagues. There, Jessie and her ...more
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Thank you Hanover Square Press for sending me an ARC of this book.
I’ve read Dr. Melinek’s memoir (Working Stiff) a few years ago and adored it! That book actually got me interested in reading memoirs.
She then wrote this novel (again, with her husband T.J. Mitchell) about a young medical examiner who quits her job in LA because of the traumatic event that happened at work and moves to San Francisco. But her troubles don’t stop; she gets a case that her boss pushes her to close as an accident, but
Barb Lie
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Check out all of my reviews at:

FIRST CUT by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell is a medical thriller/mystery that is the start of a new series featuring San Francisco’s newest medical examiner, Dr. Jessica Teska.

Dr. Jessica Teska is hoping for a new start in San Francisco after leaving Los Angeles wondering if she would ever work as a medical examiner again. She is determined to do her best and prove she is worth this second chance.

When a suspected overdose case
Isabel Draves
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Look sharp, Kay Scarpetta! There's a new medical examiner in town, and Jessie Teska has an appetite for more than salad and pasta. By turns racy, intellectual, cryptic and clinical, this new entry into the mystery thriller genre proves Patricia Cornwall has finally met her match. Inspired by a real-life forensic pathologist (the female half of this author couple), this novel starts off slowly as Jessie explores the ins and outs of her new job in San Francisco. But something smells fishy in the ...more
Infinity's  Bookshelf
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs, ebook
I had such a good time with First Cut. I loved the medical sections and how detailed the descriptions became. This book was gory! It didn’t shy away from making me uncomfortable and I love it for that. The story starts with lots of questions. Who is the suicide victim? Why does the main character act like that? Those questions are not answered until very far into the novel, instead solving lots of tiny mysteries. If you read my review yesterday of Run Away by Harlan Coben you would find that I ...more
Caitlyn Lynch
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
Written by a husband and wife team, First Cut is a fictional story of a medical examiner starting a career in a new city (San Francisco) and finding herself in at the deep end, with underworld figures determined to see that what she’s found is never used to bring them to justice. Dr. Jessie Teska is a fascinating and very realistic and relatable character, with her working-class Polish-Boston background, her massive student debts to pay off and her not-terrific taste in men.

Judy Melinek is a
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love a good forensic mystery, and this one pulled me right in. In First Cut, Dr. Jessie Teska has just started her new job at the San Francisco medical examiner’s office. She’s got to jump right in, because the caseload is slammed and the office is, to put it kindly, decrepit. Her first case is described as a slam dunk, a probable overdose. Shortly after, she picks up a homicide. What she doesn’t yet know is how these two cases will overlap and intertwine, and what her investigation will ...more
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a new medical examiner in town and her name is Dr. Jessie Teska. 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,
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Was this book sponsored by BMW???? If you are interested in reading a book that is about a Medical Examiner that drives a BMW and keeps a focus throughout on that BMW, then you have come to the right place. This might have been a really good mystery/thriller, but I was most definitely distracted by the constant mention of the ME's BMW:
"Sitting in my growling BMW 235i at the bottleneck left turn off of Stanyan Street..."
"I swung out of the loading dock and swooped my Beemer into the space as she
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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, ...more
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to the publisher for the free copy in exchange for my honest review

I had heard great things about WORKING STIFFS and even have it sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. After reading FIRST CUT, I’ll be picking it up sooner than I anticipated! Going into this one, it’s good knowing that it is very detailed and technical when it comes to the autopsy portions of the book. Having been written by a former Medical Examiner we get the expertise we might not normally get in fiction. The author’s
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noir
I am thankful to have been given an advanced reader copy of this book. I am a mystery lover, and have a special place in my heart for female detectives. While Jessie isn't technically a detective in this novel (she is a forensic pathologist,) she assumes the role in trying to solve a murder.

I had read Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell, and I wanted to see how they took their writing style into the world of fiction. I was
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There is nothing like a great story that keeps you interested and entertained as well as guessing! This detective story is all that and more! If you are fond of the CSI type dramas, you will definitely enjoy this first novel by Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell. Judy is a forensic pathologist so her novel contains a lot of detail when it comes to investigating a crime scene and the autopsy process. At first I thought that I had everything figured out by page 138 so I thought maybe it was all a bit ...more
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Judy Melinek, M.D. is a graduate of Harvard University. She trained at UCLA in medicine and pathology, graduating in 1996. Her training at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York is the subject of her memoir, Working Stiff, which she co-wrote with her husband, T.J. Mitchell. Currently, Dr. Melinek is CEO of PathologyExpert Inc., & works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland, ...more
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