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Deadhouse: Life in a Coroner's Office [Paperback]

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Item description for Deadhouse: Life in a Coroner's Office by John Temple...

Deadhouse: Life in a Coroner's Office chronicles the exploits of a diverse team of investigators at a coroner's office in Pittsburgh. Ed Strimlan is a doctor who never got to practice medicine. Instead he discovers how people died. Mike Chichwak is a stolid ex-paramedic, respected around the office for his compassion and doggedness. Tiffani Hunt is twenty-one, a single mother who questions whether she wants to spend her nights around dead bodies.

All three deputy coroners share one trait: a compulsive curiosity. A good thing too, because any observation at a death scene can prove meaningful. A bag of groceries standing on a kitchen counter, the milk turning sour. A broken lamp lying on the carpet of an otherwise tidy living room. When they approach a corpse, the investigators consider everything. Is the victim face-up or down? How stiff are the limbs? Are the hands dirty or clean? By the time they bag the body and load it into the coroner's wagon, Tiffani, Ed, and Mike have often unearthed intimate details that are unknown even to the victim's family and friends.

The intrigues of investigating death help make up for the bad parts of the job. There are plenty of burdens?grief-stricken families, decomposed bodies, tangled local politics, and gore. And maybe worst of all, the ever-present reminder of mortality and human frailness.

Deadhouse also chronicles the evolution of the field, from early rituals performed over corpses found suspiciously dead to the controversial advent of modern forensic pathology. It explains how pathologists "read" bullet wounds and lacerations, how someone dies from a drug overdose, or a motorcycle crash, or a drowning, and how investigators uncover the clues that lead to the truth.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   177
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   University Press of Mississippi
ISBN  1934110302  
ISBN13  9781934110300  

Availability  0 units.

More About John Temple

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John Temple was born in 1942 in Stockton-on-Tees and grew up in the East Midlands and the Northeast. After reading English at Caius College, Cambridge (1961-64) he spent two years of postgraduate study and teaching in the USA. Since 1970 he has lived in Flanders, Belgium, teaching at the University of Ghent (1970-90) and Erasmushogeschool, Brussels (1990-98).

John Temple currently resides in Morgantown. John Temple was born in 1969.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Medicine > Specialties > Pathology > Forensic Medicine
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Crime & Criminals > Forensic Science
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > Death
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > True Stories > True Crime
6Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Medical > Medicine > Internal Medicine > Pathology > Forensic Medicine

Reviews - What do customers think about Deadhouse: Life in a Coroner's Office?

Educational, but somewhat dry.  Mar 27, 2006
This short, non-fiction book takes us into the fascinating world of the Pittsburgh coroner's office -- one of the few major U.S. cities that still uses elected coroners for its death investigations instead of appointed medical examiners. The book is broken into several sections, beginning with a chapter that follows a young college student around on her first night as an intern, capturing her horrors, fears, and reactions as she follows a death investigation from the call to the scene through the autopsy the next day. Another chapter shows us the ins and outs of the autopsy room, and another even takes us upstairs out of the morgue and into the world of inquest hearings.

In between personal stories about the coroners and descriptions of the fascinating cases they encounter, Temple educates us on the difference between coroners and medical examiners, as well as the pros and cons of relying on each type of organization for investigational work. Additionally, he mixes in some history, detailing the evolution of the coroner's office over the last couple of centuries. And though I will say the writing was a bit dry -- Temple definitely writes like a reporter, which is great when you're writing a scholarly piece of non-fiction, but less effective when you're writing a book like this that is clearly meant to appeal to the masses of CSI watchers out there -- overall, I found this book extremely engrossing and very educational. Anyone who's ever been curious about what coroners really do shouldn't hesitate to pick up a copy, and that goes double for readers who have enjoyed books like Jessica Synder Sacks' "Corpse: Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death" or Mary Roach's "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers."
Awesome book about the life of coroners & staff...  Feb 6, 2006
I really enjoyed reading this book. This book actually helped
me decide whether or not going into this field of work.

I absolutely love CSI (but hate CSI Miami and CSI NY...too much Hollywood in those...ugh).

This is a book about these professional's lives, NOT forensic science technology and the latest techniques used, etc..which I, for one, wasn't expecting by reading the overview of the book to begin with.

If you want to get a feel of what it's like to live in these professionals shoes than this is your book, and a wonderful one at that!

I like to read about stuff that people never talk about and that is so taboo. We should all get more comfortable with death and our immortal bodies.

Thanks author, It was an enjoyable read!

Great read for professionals and laymen  Oct 12, 2005
As a physician, I usually steer clear of medical books or TV shows, as they are typically all drama, no reality.

However, a friend gave me this book, and I was really surprised -- it is an accurate account of 'life' in the morgue, but told in a truly compellng manner. It was easy for me to empathize with the characters, especially the new interns, as I remember my first moments in medical school when I first dealt with death. I actually learned a lot too -- information about the infrastructure and politics behind the coroner's office.

Temple is a great story-teller. This book is a great read, from its medical detailing to its character development. I strongly recommend this book ... maybe I'll use it for my next book-club!
Perfect for CSI fans...or those just looking for a great story  Oct 12, 2005
Deadhouse doesn't club you over the head with the specifics science of forensics (yawn) but does give enough info. to keep forensic science enthusiasts interested. This isn't a textbook but rather a fast-paced look at the lives of people intersecting through a topic that is endlessly fascinating but not often discussed: death. And it takes place in Pittsburgh, not Philadelphia. That's enough reason to read this on its own.

This isn't the type of book I would normally pick up (I'm more of a Jane Austen, Larry McMurty reader) but I'm glad I did. The only bad thing about this book is that it didn't go on longer.
Not CSI  Oct 10, 2005
This book is written from the standpoint of a Philidelpia coroner's office intern, who obviously has never been exposed to cable television. While it was a fast read and interesting, it was very basic in the level of forensics it described. If you have watched any forensic television in the past, this is not the book for you. I hope that in the future, Mr. Temple would go a bit deeper, including not well known forensics to teach the reader a few things. There were interesting side plots about the acting deputy coroners in the office and some of the office politics, but all in all I felt disappointed to spend so much on a very short book that offered no new insights.

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