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Within the first hour or so of WHAT THE DEAD KNOW the author and narrator Barbara Butcher makes clear that there’s no escaping the parallels between her real life and the crime dramas that have fascinated audiences for generations. Her biography feels lifted from a Her biography feels lifted from a noir film. 
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New York Times 

What the Dead Know offers an unflinching look at the lives and deaths investigated by medicolegal death investigator Barbara Butcher in New York City. Her stories capture the integrity and empathy necessary for a professional career dedicated to understanding death, with a greater purpose: to support the living.”

Judy Melinek, M.D., author of Working Stiff

“Barbara Butcher’s What the Dead Know is three unputdownable books in one—a series of gripping true crime stories told with unflinching style, a revealing and fascinating look at crime scene investigation, and an engrossing, moving, and very funny memoir that will inspire everyone who reads it.”

Kate WhiteNew York Times bestselling author of The Second Husband

“In this riveting memoir, Barbara Butcher writes unflinchingly about death and loss with stories gleaned from decades of experience in the New York City Medical Examiner’s Offices, but she also writes honestly and with surprising humor about her own life’s challenges and recoveries. Reading this book felt like getting to know a new, fascinating friend.” 

Alafair BurkeNew York Times bestselling author of Find Me

Don’t let the local focus in the subtitle fool you: Butcher’s lessons from her tenure in the Big Apple’s medical examiner’s office hold plenty of relevance for readers in any American city, and she has worked through one of the greatest mass-casualty tragedies in our history — September 11. Butcher never shrinks from explaining tough material, the better to show how essential one of the darkest jobs in the city is to our justice system.

LA Times

“Once 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.” So writes Barbara Butcher in her blunt-spoken and occasionally lyrical memoir of her career as a medicolegal death investigator with NYC’s OCME. Her remarkably candid and sensitive memoir reveals how she learned to navigate a heart-wrenching line of work and to overcome her own demons. More >

Tom Nolan,Wall Street Journal

“Barbara Butcher’s compelling memoir gives readers a glimpse into the truly shocking things that happen behind the scene of the crime. It’s surprising, insightful, and perfect for fans of true crime, or for anyone who wants to understand what it’s really like to be a medical examiner.”
Karin Slaughter
New York Times and Internationally Bestselling Author

What the Dead Know is an extraordinary testament to an astonishing career. Butcher’s vivid descriptions of horror and grief are clear-eyed but compassionate, never voyeuristic. The book is a hero’s journey, and reading it feels like a privilege."

Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of House on Fire

“Butcher artfully integrates her personal struggles into this riveting debut memoir that doubles as an inside look at the work of medicolegal investigators...She employs welcome doses of dark humor and makes even the more complicated aspects of her work fully accessible to a lay audience. Readers interested in how real-life CSI functions will be rapt.”

Publishers Weekly

“Butcher’s life is right out of a novel, and a best-seller at that. She was one of the first women to be hired as a medicolegal investigator in New York City, spending over two decades in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. She battled alcoholism and depression before and during her career as well as the fraught interpersonal dynamics that come from being a gay woman in an overwhelmingly male profession and still managed to rise in the ranks and become one of the most trusted voices in her field.”

Booklist Awards

“An unprecedented gutsy view of the Rue Morgue in New York City, told by one of its greatest characters. Barbara Butcher stares life and death in the face and doesn’t avert her gaze. She’s the real deal. Her stories and insights are breathtakingly honest, compassionate, and raw. What the Dead Know is impossible to put down. A must read, it’s destined to be a classic.”

Patricia Cornwell

   Bestselling Crime Writer

“A propulsive memoir; equal parts stories of how one lives and dies in NYC and Butcher’s personal journey of self-discovery and recovery, coming to know, trust herself. Deftly well crafted, What the Dead Know tells a powerful story of what it is to be human, ever curious, and compelled to bear witness to the world around us.”

A.M. Homes, author of
The Unfolding

“Fascinating, compelling, and very real, Butcher’s time ‘on tour’ with the New York OCME gives the reader a look behind the scenes of death investigation, demystifying the process by giving much-needed insights with a delicate but detailed hand. Both an excellent research primer and a touching memoir, Butcher’s accessible storytelling makes this a must read.”

J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of It’s One of Us

“[Butcher] is a witty, gifted observer who approaches her own struggles with mental health with the same keenness and curiosity as she approaches the bodies she encounters on the job. . . . Butcher’s forays into memoir are heartbreakingly beautiful; their brevity leaves readers wanting more. A gritty, humorous portrait of a strong woman who found sobriety while working with the dead.”

Kirkus Reviews


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