The work of coroners is dark and mysterious, yet necessary for society to function. Adding to the mystery is Marin County, California, a place of natural beauty and celebrity residents where all is not as it seems, at least in the eyes of Ken Holmes, the long-time coroner there. His education and training prepared him for many things, but not for the strange and sometimes mind-boggling ways that people die... Translated into multiple languages, the Polish version recently was nominated as the 2019 Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in that country.
"Supremely entertaining...fascinating and wildly informative." Kirkus Reviews
"Stranger-than-fiction stories told with a novelist's flair." Publishers Weekly
Some of the cases that Holmes handled in his career cast him in the national spotlight because of who they involved—rock legend Jerry Garcia, rapper Tupac Shakur, porn kings Jim and Artie Mitchell, and the infamous Trailside Killer. It was the deaths of people who weren't well known, however, that remain the most vivid and noteworthy in his mind. Several cases took a decade to solve, two took twenty years, one took thirty, and one took forty-four years. It might seem like a luxury for a coroner to be able to pursue cases so doggedly, but Holmes's belief is that family and friends of the deceased deserve to know what happened, no matter how long it takes. Coroners deal with death, but their purpose is to find answers for the living.
—From The Education of a Coroner