Working stiff

two years, 262 bodies, and the making of a medical examiner

258 pages

English language

Published July 29, 2014 by Scribner.

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5 stars (10 reviews)

"The fearless memoir of a young forensic pathologist's "rookie season" as a NYC medical examiner, and the cases--hair-raising and heartbreaking and impossibly complex--that shaped her as both a physician and a mother. 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 T.J. and their toddler Daniel holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation--performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy's two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines flight 587. Lively, action-packed, and loaded with mordant wit, Working Stiff offers a firsthand account of daily life in …

2 editions

Review of 'Working stiff' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Another of my demonstrated "likes" – science, and medicine, and some humanity, too. The book was a nice summing up of the experience as a forensic pathologist. It covered the 9/11 world trade center disaster, another airplane disaster, suicides and heart attacks, and the difficulties of determining natural death from accidental from downright homicide. Very interesting examination and exploration of determination. Definitely well within my realm of interest.

Review of 'Working stiff' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Ich mag das Genre "Leute erzählen mit vielen technischen Details von ihren interessanten Berufen", hier noch verschönert dadurch, dass es eine Geschichte von einfacher (jedenfalls werden hier keine Konflikte erwähnt) Vereinbarkeit von Beruf und Kinderhaben ist. Das gute Gleichgewicht von Verwesung und Einfühlung hängt vielleicht damit zusammen. Auf Deutsch hätten mich vielleicht ein paar Formulierungen gestört, auf Englisch war es kein Problem. Plan für die Zukunft, hier notiert, damit ich es nicht vergesse: Ich muss einfach mehr Bücher lesen, in denen Frauen Berufe haben. Es reicht jetzt mit dem 300-seitigen Nachdenken über den Ehestand.

Review of 'Working stiff' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

TIL I remember anatomy best when discussed in relation to autopsies. Dr. Melinek is a really fantastic writer--funny, informative, emotional, and heartwarming.

Seriously though... I learned more from this book than two semesters of A&P. If she ever offers an online class, I'd totally take it.


  • Medical examiners (Law)
  • Forensic pathologists
  • Biography


  • New York (State)
  • New York