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The Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating Death
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Scribner 2017
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Description
An "entertaining" (Booklist) account of the mysterious, hair-raising, and heartbreaking cases handled by the coroner of Marin County, California throughout his four decades on the job—from high-profile deaths and serial killers to inmate murders and Golden Gate Bridge suicides.Marin County, California is a study in contradictions. Its natural beauty attracts celebrity residents and thousands of visitors every year, yet the county also is home to San Quentin Prison, one of the oldest and largest penitentiaries in the United States. 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, not to mention the large percentage of suicides that occur on 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—one that is far different from the forensics we see on television—Holmes learned a variety of skills, from finding hidden clues at death scenes, interviewing witnesses effectively, managing bystanders and reporters, and preparing testimony for court to how to notify 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 is "riveting and complex...supremely entertaining reading material and...a fascinating and wildly informative dive into the mysterious world of death and decay" (Kirkus Reviews).
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
08/15/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781501168246
ASIN:
B01MG7OTJ9
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

John Bateson. (2017). The Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating Death. Scribner.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

John Bateson. 2017. The Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating Death. Scribner.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

John Bateson, The Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating Death. Scribner, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

John Bateson. The Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating Death. Scribner, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: 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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shortDescription
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...
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title
The Education of a Coroner
fullDescription
An "entertaining" (Booklist) account of the mysterious, hair-raising, and heartbreaking cases handled by the coroner of Marin County, California throughout his four decades on the job—from high-profile deaths and serial killers to inmate murders and Golden Gate Bridge suicides.
Marin County, California is a study in contradictions. Its natural beauty attracts celebrity residents and thousands of visitors every year, yet the county also is home to San Quentin Prison, one of the oldest and largest penitentiaries in the United States. 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, not to mention the large percentage of suicides that occur on 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—one that is far different from the forensics we see on television—Holmes learned a variety of skills, from finding hidden clues at death scenes, interviewing witnesses effectively, managing bystanders and reporters, and preparing testimony for court to how to notify 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 is "riveting and complex...supremely entertaining reading material and...a fascinating and wildly informative dive into the mysterious world of death and decay" (Kirkus Reviews).
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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        July 1, 2017
        Grisly true-life cases from the longtime career of a veteran coroner.In his previous books, Bay Area writer Bateson (The Last and Greatest Battle: Finding the Will, Commitment, and Strategy to End Military Suicides, 2015) explored the act and aftermath of suicides. Here, he presents a profile of Ken Holmes, whom he'd met in 2010 after interviewing him for a book on Golden Gate bridge jumpers. Holmes spent nearly four decades working in the Marin County coroner's office investigating not just suicides, but also countless unsolved homicides as well as natural, accidental, and undetermined deaths. Bateson reviewed 800 files in his research, and the cases he meticulously describes vividly represent Holmes' long-standing tenure as a forensic professional. Each situation is riveting and complex. Holmes remarks that while a coroner's purpose is to "find answers for the living," it is the noncelebrity cases--he has handled the deaths of Jerry Garcia, Tupac Shakur, and the Trailside Killer, among others--that emerge as the most memorable, some drawn out over multiple decades. Through interviews, Bateson retraces the retired coroner's history from his first homicide report through his years of learning the forensic skills of the trade; particularly compelling chapters focus on Holmes' stint in San Quentin prison and the phenomenon of Golden Gate bridge suicides. Throughout the book, the author spotlights each gory detail with macabre precision. Holmes intimately describes the inescapable odor of a decaying corpse ("the odor stays with you for days no matter how many times you shower"), the processes of lividity, rigor mortis, and autopsies, the atrocities of child abuse, and the deadly consequences of autoerotic asphyxiation. These factual narratives magnify the work and the resolve necessary to bring closure to violent, unjust, suspicious, or unresolved deaths. They also make for supremely entertaining reading material for anyone with a dark curiosity in forensic science. A fascinating and wildly informative dive into the mysterious world of death and decay.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        October 2, 2017
        Macabre tales from a county coroner color Bateson’s latest. Bateson met Ken Holmes in 2010 while writing The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge. At that time, Holmes was nearing the end of his third and final term as coroner for Marin County, Calif. His 36 years on the death beat in one of the most affluent counties in the United States supply the grim stranger-than-fiction stories in this book. He recalls the teenager who convinced her boyfriend to help kill her parents and burn their bodies in a remote campsite cistern, and a 42-year-old woman who jumped to her death from the Golden Gate Bridge and washed up on shore with a gunshot wound to the head. Holmes investigated the deaths of famous porn kings and the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, and he was the man San Quentin State Prison officials called when inmates died. Bateson, who opted not to interview any of Holmes’s colleagues for the book, recounts these macabre tales with a novelist’s flair, punctuated by Holmes’s insight. Additionally, Bateson reveals the art and science of a forensic investigation, from the initial call to the autopsy room. Bateson’s retellings of Holmes’s stories are entertaining and provocative.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        July 1, 2017
        Bateson (The Final Leap, 2012) met coroner Ken Holmes while they served on the board of an organization dedicated to eradicating suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge. Working for the Marin County Coroner's Office, Holmes dealt with many of these victims, whose bodies would wash up in his jurisdiction. In addition to the suicides, Marin County, despite its affluence, has an unusually large number of drug- and alcohol-related deaths. It is also home to the San Quentin penitentiary, where Holmes was often enlisted to investigate a prisoner's death. Add in a few celebrity deaths, and Holmes' stories make for entertaining, if morbid, reading, especially for those with an interest in forensics and homicide investigations. The book is mainly a rundown of cases and their investigations, with none getting more than a dozen pages. A more intimate look at Holmes himself, whose career spanned more than 35 years, would have been welcome. Still, for those that have enjoyed the rash of coroner memoirs and biographies, this is another to add to the pile.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

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Lessons in Investigating Death
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