I jumped at the chance to read this when I saw it. I figured it would be extremely interesting to read about the cases the deputy coroner had worked and how she dealt with that kind of job, etc. And it turned out to be that, sort of.
Don’t get me wrong, the author talks about cases she worked all through the book. But it’s more like she grazes over the case, the decedent and the details and fills the pages with her own personal faiths and beliefs.
Now, believe me, these stories could have been a lot more detailed. But you have to remember this is the deputy coroner’s diary. She’s not telling a story per se. This is a collection of her thoughts and feelings expressed in a stream of consciousness writing style. And while the true crime material was extremely interesting, it was overshadowed and lost in the text because of three things in my opinion.
I received a hard copy of this book. Beautifully bound and covered with a fantastic image and an easy-to-read title. But then I opened the book and I immediately saw that it had been printed in double line spacing format. This is the kind of spacing you use when you are printing a draft that is going to be proofread or edited because it leaves a lot of space for the various people to jot down notes. Unfortunately, it seems that this particular part of the writing process was never done. This book was riddled with grammatical errors. Things like no punctuation being used at the end of a paragraph or the lack of using commas or semicolons. Words are missing from sentences a lot. Toward the end of the book the author is purposely evasive and frankly, those chapters just don’t seem to make much sense. The way the stories are grouped together makes no sense. Sometimes there isn’t even a skipped line to let you know it’s a new story. No indents. It truly seems like she typed this up day by day and then just sent it to be published. And you can tell by the hardback cover and paper that a lot was invested in this venture. But it wouldn’t have taken anything to just click the spell check/grammar check option, and that would have solved a lot of the complaints I have.
The worst part is that all that kind of stuff takes away from the material of the book, it’s content and literary value. Not to mention that it becomes somewhat frustrating and annoying for the reader. Being ultra-repetitive is a good way to annoy your readers as well. I understand that this is a woman’s diary. Her own personal private thoughts. Nothing is really date stamped, it’s just the title of a chapter and then the content of said chapter. Which is not what I am meaning really when I talk about being repetitive. There was one theme other than death that was continuously part of the book. And that was religion. God. Not only did she mention God over and over, she kept bringing up ghosts, spirits, psychics and mediums. It seemed to be on almost every page. By the end, reading the last few chapters felt like I was at church getting preached at. I’m not a fan of that kind of feeling. And it’s not that I don’t believe her claims of paranormal activity. That’s not it at all. I just happen to think that she has way more than the average believer has in the quantity of examples of this activity. So, that leads me to question the validity of all her claims. As so often is the case, she really has no proof that these paranormal or spiritual interactions ever took place.
Another thing that I found interesting was her profound belief in her religion and things coming from “the other side” even though she’s a medical professional and as such usually thought to believe heavily on scientific data. Yet in her expression of her private thoughts, this does not seem to be the case. In fact, she seems to focus very heavily on things that not only cannot be proven but also many things that probably have some kind of rational explanation. Again, I’m not saying these things did not happen. I am only saying that it could be possible some of these “spiritual encounters” could be rationally explained.
And yet, I was willing to forgive all of that and continue to read the book with an open mind. But then came the sarcastic comments and complaints about the deceased. Suddenly she would go from a caring and compassionate community healthcare servant into a hardened and cold medical professional that never sees PEOPLE, only injuries, sickness and death. It was as if the dark, gruesome and unattractive side of the profession were finally outed and put right in your face.
But you have to understand, the people that choose these professions, they see the worst of what humanity has to offer. How would you expect someone deal with that and do their job effectively at the same time without getting burned out or overwhelmed by the emotional roller coaster they endure? A lot of people turn to comedy and a kind of detached coldness in order to deal with the horrors they see every day. It’s hard for people to understand that without having been in that position themselves. I have a small amount of insight as my father was a police officer and I grew up around all facets of law enforcement and the judicial system.
It’s hard for these professionals to harbor the burden of the terrors that all manners of society are capable of. It’s difficult to not let emotions get involved and it’s hard to not get a jaded view of the world. Don’t discount the coping mechanisms that people employ to maintain their sanity and some semblance of a normal life when, let’s face it, dealing with death every day isn’t the norm. That is a specialized area that only certain types of people can handle working in.
This book allows a look into the mind of the Deputy Coroner. It’s not really about the cases but instead, it’s about how those cases affect the coroner. It also shows that as someone in such a position they don’t always know how things end. That’s hard to handle too.
It’s an interesting look into the thoughts of a coroner but it’s not for those who are really sensitive about death. If you can’t handle the lighter side of things being pointed out in a time of heart wrenching seriousness, then you may not like this read. However, if you are looking for an honest expression of what one person experienced, then you would definitely find this an interesting book. If you do read this, allow the material to sink in for a little bit before rendering judgement. Allow time for processing of what you are actually reading. This is not a fiction novel. This is truth as one deputy coroner sees it. Remember, she’s doing a job almost nobody wants to do. Might be worthwhile to give her some of your time and respect.