First Cut: A Novel

· A Dr. Jessie Teska Mystery Book 1 · Sold by Harlequin
14 reviews

About this ebook

A Bustle Most Anticipated Book of January 2020

“Scalpel sharp.”—Kathy Reichs

A young rookie medical examiner. A suspicious case. An underworld plot only she saw coming.

From the New York Times bestselling authors of Working Stiff

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 superiors urge her to close the case, but as more bodies land on her autopsy table, she uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate plot involving drug dealers and Bitcoin brokers.

Drawing on her real-life experiences as a forensics expert, Judy Melinek teams up with husband T.J. Mitchell to deliver the most exhilarating mystery of the year. Autopsy means “see for yourself,” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she has seen it all—even if it means that the next corpse on the table could be her own.

Ratings and reviews

14 reviews
Kristina Anderson
January 7, 2020
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 well-written and the story proceeds at a thoughtful pace. I did find First Cut to be a slow starter, but it soon becomes engrossing. I thought the characters were realistic and developed. I liked Jessie with her Polish background, cute little dog named Bea, and her quirky abode. I thought she was spunky. She leaves a job with her mentor along with state of the art facilities behind in Los Angeles to get a fresh start. We do not find out why right away. Clues are dropped with the full story emerging later in the book. The descriptions are detailed allowing readers to visualize the scenes which brings the story alive. Be prepared to handle the gory details related to the autopsies (the sounds, smells and what the medical examiner sees during the examination). There is one corpse that was truly repulsive courtesy to the explosion of fluids. The mystery is complex and multifaceted. I enjoyed following Jessie as she delved into the case searching for the truth. It is a modern case that involves more than drugs (I do not want to spoil it for you). You will be amazed at how it all plays out in the end. First Cut is a story that will you keep you guessing.
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Becky Baldridge
January 9, 2020
First Cut is suitably named, and it goes into some pretty disturbing details about Jessie's job as a medical examiner. Normally, I'm not overly squeamish, but this gave me a little more than I bargained for, and parts of it did bother me. Given Melinek's background, I have no doubt that her attention to detail with this story is accurate, but there are just some things about the world of autopsy that I don't need to know. I think I'm probably not the target audience for this one, but I do recognize the talented writing, and the authors certainly know how to set a scene. The story does have a pretty good pace, and other than those somewhat gruesome details that I mentioned earlier, it held my interest. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a thriller, but it there is good suspense, and the characters, while not all likable, are interesting. In the end, First Cut may be a little more detailed on autopsies than I prefer, but it was worth the read.
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DJ Sakata
January 13, 2020
This multi-layered tale was cunningly plotted, cleverly complicated, and shrewdly paced. I suspected everyone, and for good reason, as each had their own hidden agendas and they were all actually up to something. While the storylines and characters were complex, I enjoyed the authors’ surprising wit and engaging and descriptive writing style. Their contributions meshed seamlessly and I never would have guessed it was a team effort. The book was written in the first person POV of a newly hired medical examiner in San Francisco, a place I’ve never been and a vocation that gives me the willies to contemplate, yet I was as intrigued by the story as much as the oddly compelling characters and I was truly fascinated by her delightfully unusual living accommodations in a cable car house.
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