The Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating Death

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Simon and Schuster, Aug 15, 2017 - Biography & Autobiography - 368 pages
In the vein of Dr. Judy Melinek’s Working Stiff, an account of the hair-raising and heartbreaking cases handled by the coroner of Marin County, California throughout his four decades on the job—from high-profile deaths to serial killers, to Golden Gate Bridge suicides.

Marin County, California is a study in contradictions. Its natural beauty attracts thousands of visitors every year, yet the county also is home to San Quentin Prison, one of the oldest and largest penitentiaries in the country. Marin ranks in the top one percent of counties nationwide in terms of affluence and overall health, yet it is far above the norm in drug overdoses and alcoholism, and comprises a large percentage of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Ken Holmes worked in the Marin County Coroner’s Office for thirty-six years, starting as a death investigator and ending as the three-term, elected coroner. As he grew into the job—which is different from what is depicted on television—Holmes learned a variety of skills, from finding hidden clues at death scenes, interviewing witnesses effectively, managing bystanders and reporters, preparing testimony for court to notifying families of a death with sensitivity and compassion. He also learned about different kinds of firearms, all types of drugs—prescription and illegal—and about certain unexpected and potentially fatal phenomena such as autoeroticism.

Complete with poignant anecdotes, The Education of a Coroner provides a firsthand and fascinating glimpse into the daily life of a public servant whose work is dark and mysterious yet necessary for society to function.
 

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User Review  - Susan.Macura - LibraryThing

This is a fascinating look at a field I knew very little about. It is a mix of wonderful stories about famous, infamous and average people intertwined with background information on what a coroner is and does. I absolutely recommend it! Read full review

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User Review  - JanaRose1 - LibraryThing

Ken Holmes worked in the Marin County coroner's office for most of his professional career. Beginning as a death investigator, he worked his way up to coroner, an elected position. During his career ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
First Blush
7
Baptism by Fire
27
The Barbecue Murders
37
14K3 1049 1055
51
At the Scene
63
The Overdose That Wasnt
77
Investigating Homicides
89
Investigating the Unusual
173
Bones and a Frozen Infant
193
Investigating Abuse
203
Remembrances of October
215
Cases in the News
227
The Mitchell Brothers
245
Notes and Notifications
255
Power Struggles
277

The Trailside Killer
103
Inside San Quentin
115
An Unnecessary Death
129
Investigating Suicides
137
The Bridge
147
The German Tourist
163
A Supervisors Wrath
293
Ending and Beginning
303
Acknowledgments
319
Bibliography
321
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About the author (2017)

John Bateson was executive director of a nationally certified crisis intervention and suicide prevention center in the San Francisco Bay Area for sixteen years. He is the author of three previous books—The Last and Greatest Battle, The Final Leap, and Building Hope.

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