Coroner's Journal: Stalking Death in Louisiana

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9780399152825: Coroner's Journal: Stalking Death in Louisiana

The frank and unvarnished memoir of a life spent stalking death in the Deep South.

Baton Rouge is a little town with big-city problems. Rich with Creole history, colorful locals, and a strong sense of community, it's also the home of Napoleonic codes, stubborn cops, and a sometimes-troubled leadership. Baton Rouge-which literally means "Red Stick"-lives up to its bloody namesake.

And after more than ten years as a deputy coroner and then as its chief coroner, Louis Cataldie has seen his fair share of unusual and disturbing cases. They range from the bizarre to the heartbreaking: an LSU professor killed by a barn door; the bones of a young woman found scattered in a churchyard; and as many as three serial killers loose at one time under Cataldie's watch. He has worked the scene of one of the Malvo/ Muhammad Beltway Sniper shootings and had a hand in bringing to justice serial killer Derrick Todd Lee in a controversial investigation that was featured in an ABC Prime Time special with Diane Sawyer and Patricia Cornwell.

Coroner's Journal is an unflinching look at a world that television dramas such as CSI can only begin to show us.

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About the Author:

Louis Cataldie was the coroner of East Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana from 1998 to 2003. He has worked as both a small-town general practitioner and an emergency-room doctor in Baton Rouge.

From Publishers Weekly:

Cornwell's foreword may attract readers to this unremarkable account by the chief coroner in Baton Rouge, La. Flat writing and the occasional platitude ("How sad. This is someone's daughter") detract from what could have been an interesting professional memoir by a dedicated public servant whose duties include ordering psychological evaluations and commitments, as well as the more familiar forensic work. Instead, the scenarios, whether an autoerotic hanging or the evaluation of a psychiatric patient, are brief and lacking dramatic tension. Some readers may also be put off by the short prologue added after Hurricane Katrina, which is the "incomplete accounting" the author labels it; the value and heroism of the doctor's work are not adequately captured by his words. His perspective on a number of serial killer cases—and the mistakes made by law enforcement in investigating them—will be new to many and are indicative of the frankness and professionalism that have apparently marked his career. (Mar. 16)
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