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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.

About the Author

John Bateson

My latest book, "The Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating Death," was published in August 2017 by Scribner. My previous books include "The Last and Greatest Battle" (Oxford University Press, 2015) , "The Final Leap" (University of California Press, 2012) , and "Building Hope" (Prager Press, 2008) .

I was executive director of a nationally-certified crisis intervention and suicide prevention center in the San Francisco Bay Area for 16 years. I also have been executive director of three university-run counseling centers and assistant director of a two-county social service agency. Earlier in my career I was a book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications.


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