Cover Image: What the Dead Know

What the Dead Know

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Member Reviews

Engaging and entertaining. A recommended purchase for collections where true crime and memoirs are popular.
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Barbara Butcher gives an accurate portrayal of what it's like to work as an investigator with the New York City OCME's office in her memoir.  I work in a profession that is adjacent to it and enjoyed the case study approach she took to the cases she worked.  The book isn't for the faint of heart as she describes the bodies of the decedents she encounters during her job.  She also gives an account of the work she did following the 9/11 attacks in NYC, in case that is triggering as well.  I found her writing to be more of a narrative style that made it easy to follow.  It was interesting the path that led her into the OCME's office, which wasn't the route many people tend to take.

This is perfect for true crime readers.

Thank you to Simon Books for a copy in exchange for review consideration.
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๐—ช๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ ๐—ž๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜„: ๐—Ÿ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—”๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜ ๐—Ÿ๐—ถ๐—ณ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐˜„ ๐—ฌ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ธ ๐—–๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐——๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ต ๐—œ๐—ป๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ฏ๐˜† ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ ๐—•๐˜‚๐˜๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟโฃ
Bony Jangles reminded me that I never posted my review of this riveting memoir! He considers himself an expert on death, but even he learned a thing or two from this book!โฃ
Barbara Butcher was only the second woman to ever hold the role of death investigator of Manhattan and the only one to last longer than three months. She writes about her own battle with alcohol and sobriety and how it brought her to her incredible career.  She recounts many cases that she worked on with keen insight and compassion. As difficult as it was to read about some of them, I enjoyed learning about all of the investigative techniques Butcher used to solve them.โฃ
I highly recommend this for fans of forensic science, criminal investigations and true crime. โฃ
Thank you @netgalley and @simonandshusterfor the digital ARC!
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I so tried to get into this story but it just didn't hold my attention.   I'm sure it's a delightful novel but just not for me.  It was too dry  and uninteresting for me. .  I'm sure others will enjoy it.
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Working with dead bodies is scary to me but also morbidly fascinating. I don't think I could do it at all, even though I jump at the chance to listen to or read anyone's personal account of this type of career. I absolutely loved this book.
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After reading the subtitle for this book, "Learning about life as a New York City death investigator," I knew I needed to read this book.

In Barbara Butcher's memoir, she shares her experiences as a death investigator in Manhattan. I'm always hesitant to go into memoirs like this because I wonder if the material will be too technical or the story too dry. That wasn't the case with What the Dead Know. It felt like an intriguing story to me and her dark humor sprinkled throughout was a nice touch.

The element I appreciated the most is the author's vulnerability. Not only does she share the gruesome encounters from her job (more on that in a bit), but she also shares the struggles she faced with alcohol addiction, depression, job loss, relationship struggles, etc. I appreciate that as it allowed me to understand her on a deeper level. 

Ok, now for the gruesome details. To be honest, this is what attracted me to this book in the first place. Whew! She doesn't hold back! Specifically, her vivid descriptions of the smells she encountered. GAG. Beware of chapter 7... Aside from those descriptions, I found  the information she shared to be incredibly interesting and even eye-opening. 

This book is definitely worth the read, especially if you're into true crime and morbid subject matter. If you listen to the audiobook, it's narrated by the author herself, which is awesome.
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Big true crime fan and love a behind the scenes.  This one is a memoir of not only Barbara's life investigating death, but the struggles in her personal life while doing so.

The details were so interesting and all the manners of deaths she investigated.  The how of the process.  And the whys.

She was also very real about the emotional aspect of the job and how it can mess with your life and health - both physical and mental.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you for the opportunity to review this new novel.

Wow, this was a amazing read! I didn't know that a death investigator was even a career... albeit a very interesting one. 
Barbara was honest about her life, all ups and downs, and I really appreciated it. The best parts of the book were you could follow a certain case but also about her co-worker. They seemed to have been special kinds of persons that could do their job. 

I couldn't put it down and read it in one sitting. I cried during chapters about 9/11 and I especially cried in the end. What happened to her and how she tackled it. She must be such a strong person!
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This is the best book Iโ€™ve read in a long time. Iโ€™m applauding at the end. An exciting, fast paced, hilarious, heartbreaking, hopeful story. Well done and thank you. This book will be featured on a future episode of Your Rainbow Reads podcast.
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What the Dead Know by Barbara Butcher
Publisher Simon and Schuster
Release Date June 20, 2023

This was not at all what I expected. I realize as a doctor myself that crime scenes are not for the faint and. An sometimes cause the person viewing to have mental health issues that linger for quite some time. Butcher loved every part of it. So much so that she put herself out there to take on more cases as a Death investigator. She is blunt, graceful and honest to a fault. Her alcoholism played a huge part of her life prior to this lifeline handed to her. She talks eloquently about the effects of alcohol and also death. How each person she over saw was just as important as the next but there were some that haunts her still today. This is a memoir of her years and it may start to be all over the place but the author quickly finds her niche and puts her memories inside this book. Bad or good they have a certain place and this is where you the reader will find them.

5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley as well as the author and publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book and give my unbiased and honest review.
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This is a page turner of a book that is a combination of true crime, history of New York City and memoir. It is a fascinating look at life and death in NYC through the eyes of a woman who has virtually seen it all. Barbara Butcher takes you on a tour of NYC through the crimes she solves as well as the highs and lows of her own life. The reader gets a front row seat to the death investigations and some of the inner workings of they NYPD. Woven throughout the cases are tales of Butcher's own life. Her personal struggles with alcohol and depression among them. In every case and every example from her own life there are lessons to be learned. She imparts her wisdom in a way that is not preachy at all. She is humble and reflective through the entire book.
Butcher's writing is wonderful. This is not simply a cold play by play of death investigations. It is narrative storytelling at its best. This an amazing book that you will not want to put down, and will recommend to everyone!
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WHAT THE DEAD KNOW offers a fascinating look into life as a New York City Death Investigator. This memoir by 
Barbara Butcher recounts her time as a woman working in a unique and male-dominated industry. As expected with the subject matter, there are gritty and gruesome portions in this book that me be difficult for sensitive readers. Barbara writes in a way that preserves the dignity of the deceased while providing factual and straight-forward information about her career path. Barbara also weaves in her experience as a recovering alcoholic and how that ultimately led to her job as a death investigator.
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What the Dead Know is a riveting memoir by a woman who investigated deaths while trying to hold together her own life.

I loved this book! Barbara Butcher is unflinchingly honest, telling her story with humor, grace, and a little snark. This is partly a personal tale of overcoming alcoholism and finding a new path in life, and partly a tour through New York Cityโ€™s deathsโ€”murder, suicide, and natural.

I was fascinated by the details of a death investigatorโ€™s job. Those CSI shows donโ€™t even come close to the reality!

The emotional toll is something I often think about with this type of job. Butcher shows us how years of dealing with humanity at its worst can wreak havoc on a personโ€™s health and personal life.

Both intimate and expansive, What the Dead Know is a must read for true crime fans.

*Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the free copy.*
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โ€œOnce you know the smell of death, you can pick it out in a flower shop. Strangely sweet with a bitter undertone, like a strawberry milkshake made with garlic.โ€ ๐Ÿคข

โ€œโ€˜What is it like to work with the dead?โ€™ I asked. โ€˜Peacefulโ€™ was his deadpan answer.โ€ ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

โ€œDead men ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ tell tales. You just have to listen.โ€ ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

Barbara Butcher lays herself bare in this fascinating look into what itโ€™s like to be the voice for the dead in NYC. Are you an #IDAddict like me? If so you will love this book! 

In What The Dead Know: Learning About Life as a New York City Death Investigator, she touches upon her own struggles with depression and alcoholism and how that shaped her to be ready for this type of job. She talks about ways to die and the characteristics of suicide. She was there for 9/11 and its aftermath. There are chapters on particular cases that stuck with her throughout her career and how, by the end, politics derailed it. 

Dealing with death on a daily basis is not easy nor is it normal. But I commend her for showing up every day to help find justice for those taken too soon and often offering some semblance of closure to families in mourning. A superb read that I read in one sitting! 

Thank you to Netgalley, Simon & Schuster, and the author for the free copy for review.
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This memoir was a really quick read.  I loved the stories that were focused on specific and interesting cases the best.  I had not considered a death investigator with the coronerโ€™s office but this book made me not only think about it but think it is a pretty cool career.  This is definitely an area I hope to know more about in the future.  I think I imagined the police were doing all of the pieces that she did and I wonder now if that is separated that way everywhere or not.   I think Barbara did a great job in translating her work to word which is not a skill everyone has.  Overall I did enjoy it, but I did wish for more vignettes about her work as that was the most interesting part for me.
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I wasn't quite sure what to expect of this memoir, written by a New York City death investigator.

In truth, it's a bit all over the place, covering the gamut from author Barbara Butcher's alcoholism to individual cases she investigated over the years. I enjoyed it more when I read it as a series of vignettes, or a personal essay collection, than a traditional memoir (though I believe chronological order is followed throughout).

I appreciated Butcher's deep empathy for the dead, though I could have done without some of the heavy detail on decomposition. I broke down reading her recollections of 9/11. 

Overall, I was struck by the toll this job had on Butcher, a job which she referred to as the best in the world. As she put it, "You can't see trauma and death and despair every single day without being adversely affected." No matter that she loved her job and (seemed like she) was good at it.
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Partly personal memoir but also an interesting look at the life of a death investigator and some of the more memorable cases. Good detail and insight into the process of investigating and determining cause of death along with some funny stories.
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Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for the ARC! I devoured this memoir in two days. Perfect for the true crime obsessed and fans of Caitlyn Doughty and Mary Roach. This book is a seamless meld of the dark workplace content and Butcher's biography. She details an honest account of determining causes of death in the busiest city in America. She describes her harrowing venture from addiction to becoming one of the most prominent investigators in the city. She uses moments in her life to give us the right amount of background to understand her perspective of individual cases. I found the chapter on her responsibilities during 9/11 the most heart wrenching. She has a job that is so important to society, that most could barely stomach. Butcher gives the reader insight to all sorts of deaths and educates us on the process of the inevitable. Trigger warnings abound
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Thank you to Net Galley for this ecopy of What the Dead Know by Barbara Butcher.This is a wonderful book for fans of true crime..There are so many interesting,, fascinating stories..This is a book that you canโ€™t put down.Set in New York City, it covers the time period of the 80s through the early 2000s including the 9/11 recovery.Barbara , as a medical examiner , dealt with any suspicious death in NYC  including murders, suicides, and natural deaths .Highly recommend!
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I am an avid fan of Patricia Cornwell and upon seeing her endorsement of this title I was of course intrigued.  The book did not disappoint.  However, reading it you must remember it is NOT fiction which makes it more remarkable.

Butcher is honest in her writing about her alcoholism/drugs, depression, and the coping of it all.  It is amazing that she was able to pull herself up by the boot strings and continue on a wonderful journey with New York's OCME.  The stories flow across the page - but to be honest I felt a little, just a little, left hanging on some of the stories.  I wanted a little more information.  Upon reflection Butcher probably wanted to give privacy to others in the stories since they are REAL people and deserve it.  

Barbara Butcher relays events as a member of the Medical Examiners Office.  Her lessons of life while being an alcoholic in a brutal life as a death investigator are compelling and real.  Considering this in not fiction but real life experiences it is eye opening as to the life and times of people and their depravity.  I could not put this book down.  I am a fan of fiction/medical examiner books and this just brought home the reality of that life.  Butcher should be commended for her realistic portrayals and her heart felt admissions to her mental health.
#netgalley #whatthedeadknow
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