What the Dead Know: Learning About Life as a New York City Death Investigator

S. & S. Audio. Jun. 2023. 9:47 hrs. ISBN 9781797155814. $19.99. MEMOIR
Butcher, who worked for over two decades as a medicolegal adviser for New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, offers a self-narrated memoir that addresses sobriety, true crime, and the intriguing but sometimes heartbreaking ins and outs of crime scene investigations. During her time with the department, Butcher investigated more than 5,500 death scenes (680 of which were homicides), including double homicides, suicides, natural deaths, accidentals, and assaults on underage victims. Butcher candidly shares her stories, describing her work as well as her journey from alcohol-use disorder through depression and recovery. While Butcher’s topic is unpleasant, grim, and often sad, she handles it with respect, honesty, and occasional humor. She narrates in an intimate, conversational tone that should resonate with those who appreciate both the scientific and the emotional aspects of true crime.
VERDICT Butcher provides a nonsensationalist glimpse into the real world of crime scene investigations, serving as a knowledgeable yet sensitive guide. This is a title that could well become required reading in the field; share with readers of Paul Holes’s Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases.
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