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First Cut

(Jessie Teska #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  292 ratings  ·  113 reviews
A young rookie medical examiner. A suspicious case. An underworld plot only she saw coming.

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
Hardcover, 361 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Hanover Square Press
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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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 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
First Cut is the first book in an exciting new series featuring Dr. Jessie Teska (don't even ask what her first name really is!) She is brilliant, thorough and very flawed, exactly the type of character I love in books.

Dr. Teska has newly arrived in San Francisco where a drug epidemic seems to be washing through the city. A new, highly volatile version of heroin has hit the streets causing overdoses among the most hardened users. Dr. Teska begins to see a pattern, however, in those who are
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 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
YES YES YES! I absolutely LOVED this book! Co-written by Judy (a forensic pathologist) and her husband (a screenplay consultant), we see their professions SHINE throughout this read. As a debut novel in a medical examiner detective-fiction series, you best believe I'll be continuing on and keeping an eye out for the next one.

I will say though, that there is a lot of medical terminology and intimate details about the job of a medical examiner and if these things aren't your cup of tea, then this
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
Tiffany PSquared
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 my first blog review of 2020. I mean, I could have really picked a dud to start out the year, but instead, I happen upon
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
First Cut is the debut novel of wife/husband team Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell and the first installment in a new mystery series. I've never really read mysteries from the medical examiner point of view. It apparent that the authors have an extensive knowledge of the field - the terminology kind of went over my head a bit and some of the descriptions were a bit graphic. The writing is good and the story was good. This book will appeal to those who love medical procedurals.
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
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
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!
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
I received a free copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.

We meet Jessie Teska when she is starting her new job with the medical examiner’s office in San Francisco, having moved there from LA. The start Jessie’s story is really slow and 15% in I was wondering what the point of the story was and I was bored. I decided I probably wasting going to bother reading any further. But later the same day I decided I was being too hasty and gave the book a second go and I’m glad I did.

I took part in the Winter 2020 Mystery/Thriller blog tour for First Cut by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell from Harlequin Trade Publishing.!
See my blog tour post and read an excerpt from First Cut by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell here!
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
Linda Zagon
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “First Cut” by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell, Hanover Square Press, January 7, 2020

Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell have written a thrilling, intriguing, intense and edgy novel. The Genres for this novel are Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, and Fiction. The timeline for this story is set in the authors’ present and goes to the past when it pertains to the characters or events. The authors describe their characters as complex and complicated.

Dr. Jessie
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, for-review, 2020
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
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, drama
Started out kind of slow, with a lot of technical medical terms, but the second half of the book is very creative with great drama and mystery. Very good book for first-time authors.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I found this one a little too predictable. I was just waiting for a something to appear and when it did, the twist was simple. Was expecting more. Also wasnt overly fond of the main character
Avid Reader
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First Cut by Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell
4 stars
M/F Mystery
I was given this book for an honest review by Wicked Reads.

This is the first book that I've read by these authors. It resembled the Kay Scarpetta novels that I absolutely love, by Patricia Cornwell.

While this is a more procedural novel, with a lot of medical jargon, it didn't detract from the story for me.

I really enjoyed the twists and turns that this book took. It was well developed and you really want to pull for Jessie, the
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
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jessie Teska is a medical examiner who has just relocated from LA to San Francisco when she is faced with a seemingly uncomplicated death: Man steals laptop, man is chased by laptop owner and shot, man dies. Except things are not as they seem, and this case is only one in a complicated web of intertwined cases. Set against the backdrop of high-tech San Francisco, drug trafficking and abuse, and the snarly legal system of the San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco Medical Examiner, ...more
WycEd Reader

Check out our FIRST CUT post on Wicked Reads.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader –
M/F Mystery

This is the first book that I've read by these authors. It resembled the Kay Scarpetta novels that I absolutely love by Patricia Cornwell.

While this is a more procedural novel, with a lot of medical jargon, it didn't detract from the story for me.

I really enjoyed the twists and turns that this book took. It was well developed, and you really want to pull for Jessie, the newest medical
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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