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

Judy Melinek
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Mar 3, 2015

In Working Stiff, Judy Melinek provides a fascinating look into the work of a New York City medical examiner. Never sensational, Melinek describes some of the more interesting autopsies she’s performed, how she dealt with the families of the deceased, and cases that landed her at crime scenes and in courtrooms—all surprising aspects of this occupation that I had never considered.

The grueling, heartbreaking, and necessary work of her office during and after 9/11 is undeniable. And Melinek shares her role in those events openly and honestly. While a successful medical examiner must hold her emotions in check at the morgue, Melinek’s narrative is most powerful when she allows her own humanity to seep through her professional veneer.

While I never found the medical terminology confusing or the content upsetting, some may find the situations disturbing.  If you’ve ever wondered how anyone could do this type of work, Working Stiff provides an answer.

Fans of Mary Roach’s Stiff will appreciate this more focused look at how people die and what happens after they do. 

Reviewed by Helen H.
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