Past Mortems is a good read if you are a mystery / crime fiction fan looking for something a little different and instructive between two whodunits. Carla Valentine is a Anatomical Pathology Technologist. She biographically takes you through the various steps to becoming a pathologist (coroner in the U.S, sort of), provides a history of the profession, recounts a couple of embarassing or touching moments, gets the reader inside the morgue, and shares a few somewhat gruesome but oh so interesting inside stories about the process of organ removal to how pathologists also help make the dead for viewing and the tricks of the trade. Past Mortems is being released in the U.S as “The Chick and the Dead” for some reason --hey, I just work here...
That is a lot for a 290 some page book. When you add the purely biographical material about Valentine's various past lives aka assignments, it is a bit too much.
Though quite interesting, Carla Valentine's Past Mortems is a bit of a slog. The information is disjointed, sometimes comes out of nowhere like references to a miscarriage, the effects of a few bad relationshipts, or how she found it difficult to get along with colleagues while she always speaks about them in glowing terms. It is as if all this information had been put on index cards that had been shuffled a bit and then printed as is.
Past Mortems is probably best read in small doses. This way its architectural flaws will not be as evident and you can enjoy the interesting behind the scenes information.