Regular price: $29.65

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

This is a tale of two tragedies.

At the heart of the first is Dr. Steven Hayne, a doctor the State of Mississippi employed as its de facto medical examiner for two decades. Beginning in the late 1980s, he performed anywhere from 1,200 to 1,800 autopsies per year, five times more than is recommended, performed at night in the basement of a local funeral home. Autopsy reports claimed organs had been observed and weighed when, in reality, they had been surgically removed from the body years before. But Hayne was the only game in town. He also often brought in local dentist and self-styled "bite mark specialist" Dr. Michael West, who would discover marks on victim's bodies, at times invisible to the naked eye, and then match those marks - "indeed and without doubt" - to law enforcement's lead suspect.

This leads to the second tragic tale: that of Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, two black men each convicted in separate cases of the brutal rape and murder of young girls. Dr. Hayne's autopsy and Dr. West's bite-mark matching formed the bases for the convictions. Combined, the two men served over 30 years in Mississippi's notorious penitentiary - Parchman Farm - before being exonerated in 2008. Brooks' and Brewer's wrongful convictions lie at the intersection of both the most pressing problem facing this country's criminal justice system - structural injustice built on the historic foundation of race and class as well as with the much more contemporary but equally egregious problem of invalid forensic science. The old problem is inextricably bound up with and exacerbates the new.

In The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist, Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington write a true story of Southern Gothic horror - of two innocent men wrongly convicted of vicious crimes and the legally condoned failures that allowed it to happen. Balko and Carrington will shine a light on the institutional and professional failures that allowed this tragic, astonishing story to happen, identify where it may have happened elsewhere, and show how to prevent it from happening again.

©2017 Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington (P)2017 Hachette Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    218
  • 4 Stars
    74
  • 3 Stars
    34
  • 2 Stars
    14
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    219
  • 4 Stars
    62
  • 3 Stars
    28
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    4

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    206
  • 4 Stars
    60
  • 3 Stars
    30
  • 2 Stars
    16
  • 1 Stars
    7
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 03-01-18

Gothic Horror-Show, With A Few Digressions

If you've read the Publisher's Summary, you'll know what this book is about in its entirety.
Personally, I was hoping for a bit more about the "cadaver king" and the "country dentist" because when the authors write about them, it's a horror-show, period. Their behavior, their actions, their absolute lack of conscience, are astounding. Their misdeeds are breathtaking in scope. All of it will have you on the edge of your seat, madder 'n a wet hen.
But then the book is also about structural biases, how justice can be miscarried, a plethora of bite-sized examples which, don't get me wrong, are fascinating, but they rather wander here and there some of the time, and my mind rather wandered here and there with them. And then we go back to the meat of the story, and it's "indeed and without a doubt" a gripping listen.
Absolutely worth the time; absolutely worth the credit! Not since Bryan Stevenson's "Just Mercy" have I pondered the justice system so much.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Native Mississippian - 5 Stars

I highly anticipated the release of this book and was not disappointed. As a native of Mississippi I believe the story is told with honest and intelligent research. A must for Nonfilction listeners!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

riveting

the best part was how the authors put the situation in perspective. framing the story as part of Mississippi s history of racism and using the legal system to uphold and enforce social norms. truth, science, and justice are not priorities

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Two little men, big cogs of institutional racism

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely. It may be the best example of the nuts and bolts of institutional racism in the legal system. To be fair, it goes well beyond race, but racist motivation is clearly the most prominent aspect of the criminal abuse of power that these men perpetrated.

Two wretched men, and their bands of enablers, were able to bamboozle a state's judicial system, because they were able to give convenient answers that the people wanted to hear, and kept politicians and judges elected and appointed. And in their minds, who would be harmed really, anyway? It turns out, all of us were.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The inherent religious bias, such as a prerequisite for state jobs, including the coroner's office, being a declaration of a belief in a (presumably Christian) god, might be expected in the deep South. What was more distressing was that the junk testimony presented by these charlatans, ends up besmirching the good name of honest, objective science. It's already an uphill battle getting Americans to trust science, and the damage these men did was enormous. Science, honestly and objectively conducted, seeks truth, whether one likes the results, or not. These fake scientists, unqualified and unchallenged, did not.

What does Robert Fass bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Good solid reading. No complaints.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I kept having to stop and realize over and over again that this is from the not-too-distant past. I wanted to think this was of a long bygone era, from generations past. Of course there were the over-arching stories of Emmett Till and Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner which reached back to the ghastly era of Mississippi of the 60's. But the story of Hayne and West ran well into the '90s and '00s. That made it all the more infuriating.

Any additional comments?

This is a great book to recommend to anyone who questions the notion of white privilege, and fails to recognize the injustice which has led to movements like Black Lives Matter. As mentioned earlier, it is bigger than just race, it could happen to anyone who is on the "wrong" side of a political system. This was not science. This was not justice.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Stunning! A must listen.

This is an amazing book that shines a light on a subject that has long been hidden. It is eye-opening, shameful, sad, and hopeful when exposing some of the problems of the legal system in Mississippi. These problems unfortunately are not limited to Mississippi. It is unfortunate that the legal system is rarely after truth but rather politically motivated results. You won’t regret listening to this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I have never yelled back at a book before!

I listened over a long drive, and kept yelling "No", and "You're kidding" and a bunch of expletives I won't detail here. The stories are frustrating. The author is very thorough. And the reader is perfect. What's missing is a call to action. I want to do something, but the author doesn't suggest solutions.

But listen anyway.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

fantastic book, very well researched.

wonderful listen on my 17 hour drive over spring break. several times I had to pinch myself just to remind myself that what I was reading was actually true. my wife looked at me numerous times as I was listening to it with headphones on and was very surprised by my facial reactions or laughing out loud at the shear utter ridiculousness of what was actually going on by the Mississippi powers to be. recommend to everyone

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book - sheds light on horrific injustice

Would you listen to The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist again? Why?

I don't know that I'd listen to it again, it's not that kind of a book, but it's an excellent book and CLEARLY documents the fallacies and injustices in both Missouri and the larger US legal system.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist?

The end - tying it all together, showing how the legal system votes in their favor with scientific evidence, but votes against defendants consistently. This book exposes just how evil Steven Hayne, Michael West, Jim Hood (still attorney General of Alabama!), & Forrest Allgood (DA) are. How their desire to not look bad has kept innocent men in Jail, how they have said one thing to the press and actually taken actions that repudiate what they just stated. Horrific that we as a society allow this to happen in the US. If you have read this book and not been shocked or disturbed, you've failed to understand its implications.

What does Robert Fass bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Mr. Fass has a good clear voice that is easy to listen to and added to the book

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Mostly cry - it's horrific what happened to these people and how the State of Mississippi has constantly sought to obfuscate or deny justice.

Any additional comments?

If you have an interest in criminal justice reform, read this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

very interesting, but long and repetitive

i found the book full of important information regarding our four system. it was disappointing to know that many of these practices continue to this day.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jane
  • Estevan, SK, Canada
  • 09-16-18

Wow.

This is an amazing and deep dive into the coroner system and pseudo forensics. I couldn't shut it off. If you love true crime and care about social justice, you'll love this.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Stu
  • 03-21-18

Interesting, but a hard listen

This book is very fact and figures heavy.

It is worth a listen, conversely though it isn’t a page turner. With most books I download I can’t put them down, this was not particularly captivating.

That being said, it is totally shocking that what’s reported in the book actually did happen.