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Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner | [Judy Melinek, MD, T. J. Mitchell]

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband and their toddler holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation-performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, and counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy's two years of training, taking listeners behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple.
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Publisher's Summary

Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband and their toddler holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation-performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, and counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy's two years of training, taking listeners behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple. Lively, action-packed, and loaded with mordant wit, Working Stiff offers a firsthand account of daily life in one of America's most arduous professions. The body never lies - and through the murders, accidents, and suicides that land on her table, Dr. Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorized depictions of autopsy work to reveal the secret story of the real morgue.

©2014 Dr. Judy Melinek and Thomas J. Mitchell (P)2014 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Far from the magic we see on TV, Working Stiff describes forensic pathology in the real world. The book is a compelling and absorbing read." ---Kathy Reichs, author of the Temperance Brennan 'Bones' series

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (746 )
5 star
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4.3 (663 )
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4.1 (669 )
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    R. Milam 08-20-14
    R. Milam 08-20-14 Member Since 2013

    Lifelong reader, with a strong preference for long, complex historicals and multi-book sagas (I've read, in their entirety, The Wheel of Time, all the currently available Diana Gabaldon, Naomi Novick, and Margaret George books, and love to draw comparisons from historic events to modern events.

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    "Great story - but not for the faint of heart!"
    If you could sum up Working Stiff in three words, what would they be?

    Gritty, scientific, heartwrenching.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The in depth look at a world I'll never be in - forensic pathology and autopsy.


    What about Tanya Eby’s performance did you like?

    Great voice, perfect for the story.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. It was a challenge. The details of the tragedies involved - Sept. 11 2001, the later air crash in the Rockaways, even the everyday deaths she investigated, were sometimes very tough to hear. I was glad to reach my destination sometimes, just so I could take a break.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is NOT for everyone - with vivid descriptions of the injuries of the fatalities from Sept. 11, the AA flight that crashed in the Rockaways a few months later, and some gruesome cases from routine crime in NYC, I'd advise anyone who is sensitive to death or squeamish to find something else. However, if you are of a scientific or medical bent, love to hear about specialties and jobs most people will never have, and want the true story, this is for you. It's very, very well done - but some of the phrases will haunt me for a while.

    38 of 39 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Houston, Texas, United States 08-26-14
    Sean Houston, Texas, United States 08-26-14 Member Since 2009

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Fascinating, though disturbing at times"

    Dr. Melinek has written a fascinating and compelling book, and does a good job at showing the human aspects to her job as a medical examiner. Some of the details of what happens in an autopsy will make your skin crawl, but let's be honest, that's partly why you buy this sort of book.

    The case histories are all interesting, if sometimes disturbing or heart-wrenching, but she comes across as a thoughtful professional who does a difficult job with dedication and compassion.

    The majority of this book is similar to what's found in Stiff, and the Poisoner's Handbook, and will very much appeal to fans of those books.

    But this book is more than that. Dr. Melinek was working for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York on 9/11/2001, and she offers a look into what happened out of the public's view in the weeks and months after the attacks.

    If you think you might be interested in forensic science, I cannot recommend this book any more highly.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Bragg Creek, AB, Canada 08-21-14
    Barbara Bragg Creek, AB, Canada 08-21-14 Member Since 2014
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    "An interesting glimpse"
    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    I found the narration to be good until she had to do male voices....it was frankly, grating.
    Really bad at male voices.


    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle a Coan Maryland 11-11-14
    Michelle a Coan Maryland 11-11-14 Member Since 2013
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    "One of the best medical books for audio!!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Would depend on the friend - it's not for the squeamish. I thought the reading was very easy to understand - I learned a lot about this subject.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Can't really name any specific character - I thought this was more of a documentary type of reading


    Have you listened to any of Tanya Eby’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I don't think I have heard of any other readings by her - but I thought she was excellent! Very succinct & easy to understand


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    If you were ever curious about what really goes on in a morgue - this is the movie to see!!


    Any additional comments?

    I thought this book was one of the most informative medical books (for people not in this industry) to read! The whole book was read with clear descriptions & terms that anyone can understand. I wish Dr Melinek would write more autopsy books & Tanya Eby narrate! Very bummed when it was over - wanted more!!

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Halifax, NS, Canada 09-22-14
    Jennifer Halifax, NS, Canada 09-22-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Fascinating and Well-Read"

    This is a great book. Most people will probably be drawn to it superficially because of the 9/11 connection. However, the 9/11 information is probably the least interesting part of the book. Most of what Dr. Melinek had to work with were tiny pieces and fragments.

    The rest of the books is absolutely fascinating. There's just the right blend of clinical, interesting science, and riveting storyline.

    For anyone who is squeamish or easily offended by death and dead bodies, this is probably not a great listen. But for everyone else, it's a good book. There's a lot of blending of Dr. Melinek's personal history in with the work she was doing.

    At the end I was hoping she would write a follow-up about her experiences in California. To me that's the mark of a good book -- wanting another.

    Two thumbs up!

    18 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christy and Michael Nash 09-10-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Great story...HORRIBLE narration"
    What disappointed you about Working Stiff?

    The story is great...no problems whatsoever with the author's work.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story was simple, direct, disgusting, surprising, sometimes funny and always educational. If it wasn't for the reader's melodrama-saturated reading, this would be an excellent listen.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The story is great...so interesting, educational, surprising, even funny at times. However, the narration is almost impossible to listen to. The reader works SO hard to include two or three different voice inflections in every sentence - it sounds like she's doing a skit on Saturday Night Live. She reads sentences like, "Then I removed the top the skull and used my index finger to detach the brain stem from the...." with so much drama and voice inflection that she sounds like she's doing a stand up comic routine. The author's day to day duties and tasks are saturated with so much surprise, sarcasm, disgust, alarm, incredulity and any number of other random emotions that the writer is stripped of all professionalism and maturity. The narrator reads conversations between people who are discussing the mechanics of dealing with a corpse in the morgue like she's narrating two junior-high girls discussing their most recent drama-inducing break up. It's almost impossible to listen to this reader take this obviously intelligent writer's work memoir and reduce it to what sounds like a bad TV sitcom. And, if that wasn't bad enough...she reads much too fast.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Absolutely - the story itself is great. I wish I would have purchased the book as a hard copy.


    20 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Traci VERNON, NJ, United States 10-17-14
    Traci VERNON, NJ, United States 10-17-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Interesting listen"

    Many times I found myself not wanting to stop listening to this one. There are a series of shorter stories within this book which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was an interesting look into what causes death and she approaches the subject in great detail. It is somewhat clinical but very accessible to someone outside the medical field. If you have a morbid curiosity this is a good choice. I was never bored throughout this listen. In previous reviews there was mention of her change in tone for men and women, which didn't bother me much. The narrators chipper tone actually made more of the gruesome parts less dark. I would sample the audio before just in case.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen E. Stout 10-03-14

    Learning lover

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    "Picks up Speed"
    Where does Working Stiff rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Working Stiff is an average audiobook, in my opinion.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Judy Melinek, MD and T. J. Mitchell ? Why or why not?

    No. Insights are obvious. I'd like more challenge.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Tanya Eby’s performances?

    NO. I intensely disliked her imitation of voices, especially those of men. I almost stopped listening, it was so poorly done.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Not really.


    Any additional comments?

    The book starts slowly, and the annoyance of the reader imitating voices put me off. I will say, however, that the book picks up speed, and overall it was engaging enough for the drive home through traffic.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather 08-22-14
    Heather 08-22-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Fantastic Read!"
    What did you love best about Working Stiff?

    Dr. Melinek has a winner here. This is at the top of the list for my favorite books. I found myself reading slowly, because I didn't want the book to end. I will be waiting for future works from Dr. Melineck!


    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris 02-02-15
    Chris 02-02-15
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    "A window into a truly unique world."

    A window into a truly unique world. if your curious to learn a little about this unusual profession this book will provide just that. not for the faint heart. great narration.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
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