Dr Judy Melinek & TJ Mitchell

Working Stiffs: Forensic science from the US to New Zealand

Dr Judy Melinek has broad experience in forensic pathology – in the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly 20 years where she was a medical examiner and then acting chief in charge of the Alameda County Sheriff Coroner’s COVID-19 response when she got the call to move to New Zealand and practice autopsy investigation in Wellington. With her writer husband T.J. Mitchell, she has published the New York Times-bestselling memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical ExaminerWorking Stiff chronicled Dr Melinek’s experiences as a New York City medical examiner during and after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Follow their story from New York to California to New Zealand as they highlight the successful Kiwi response to COVID-19, and how and why it brought them to these shores.


Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell are the New York Times bestselling co-authors of the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, and the ‘Jessie Teska’ mystery series. Dr Melinek, a forensic pathologist, conducted death investigations in California for 17 years before relocating with her family to New Zealand in 2020 to perform coronial autopsies. TJ Mitchell, her husband, earned a degree in English literature at Harvard University and worked in Hollywood and as a stay-at-home dad before becoming a novelist. The first two novels in their Jessie Teska series, First Cut and Aftershock, are now available from HarperCollins worldwide.