The Bottom Line: First-time novelist Jennifer Graeser Dornbush is one of the most exciting new voices in the crime thriller genre.
Emily Hartford wasn’t exactly your typical small-town teenager. In high school, she not only hung out with her Dad a lot, but she did so in the morgue, where he worked as a medical examiner. The experience was the genesis of her surgical career, which has taken her to Chicago, where she is also engaged to be married.
But during the third year of her residency, she returns home when her father suffers a massive heart attack. But every great beach read needs a romance, and the first pangs of heartburn come as she’s pulled over by her high school boyfriend, Sheriff Nick Larson.
To help out while her father is laid up, she takes over her father’s duties in the morgue, which leads to the autopsy of a Senator’s teenage daughter. Emily’s stated cause of death should come as no surprise: murder.
Coroner has no shortage on anatomical detail, thanks to Jennifer Graeser Dornbush’s real life experience as the daughter of a medical examiner. In addition, Dornbush has had decades of on-site experience in death investigation and 360 hours of forensic training through the Forensic Science Academy. Dornbush puts her expertise to great use in her debut novel, where plentiful forensic analysis turn a plot that is merely interesting into a gripping novel.
As Emily is pulled deeper into this small-town mystery, the investigation also pulls her closer to Nick. Sparks fly, cadavers are plentiful, and Dornbush creates a memorable debut that is a near-perfect summer read.