Thursday, April 17, 2014

Working Stiff (Judy Melinek, M.D. and T.J. Mitchell)

Not for the faint of heart, Working Stiff is a fascinating account of Judy Melinek's daily life as a New York City medical examiner.  But beware -- she doesn't mince words or "dumb things down" for the reader.  So if gruesome details turn you off, this book isn't for you.  However, if you love to put the pieces of a puzzle together, you'll love reading how Melinek goes about that very thing...only during autopsies instead.

Dr. Melinek began training as a forensic pathologist in New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in July 2001.  Therefore, the most harrowing, heartbreaking account in Working Stiff is the chapter where she describes what it was like on September 11, one of the worst days ever in our country's history.  Most people can remember exactly where they were when they heard the news about the terrorist attacks, and many stories have been told about the heroic efforts of the police, firefighters, and other emergency workers.  However, on that angst-ridden day, the medical examiners were thrown into uncharted waters as well; I'm not going to get into the heart-pounding details Melinek writes about, but the chapter is absolutely gripping.

Ordinary doctors take care of you when you're alive; Melinek does the opposite, focusing on finding answers for heartbroken families.  Working Stiff is enthralling and will absorb you in a way that will make hours fly by.