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Down Among the Dead Men: A Year in the Life of a Mortuary Technician (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Michelle Williams , Keith McCarthy

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Michelle Williams is young and attractive, she has close family ties as well as a busy social life - but she is far from usual. She is a mortuary technician and her job involves dealing with those things in life that many people do not wish to experience directly.

Yet life in the mortuary is neither gruesome nor sad. Told with good humour and common sense, we are introduced to a host of characters - the pathologists, many of them eccentric, some downright mad; the undertakers, the hospital porters and the man from the coroner's office who sings to Michelle every morning.

The incidents too ensure that no two days are ever the same. From the tragic to the hilarious they include:

The fitness fanatic who was run over as he did pressups in the road on a dark night
The decapitated motorcyclist
The guide dog who led his owner on to the railway tracks - and left him there
The forty stone man for whom an entire refrigerated lorry had to be hired because he wouldn't fit in the mortuary cooler

Over the course of her first year Michelle has to deal with situations and emotions that few of us will ever experience, and does so while retaining a sense of humour and a sense of perspective.

Ãœber den Autor

Michelle Williams started working for the NHS over 15 years ago where she worked as a senior health care assistant. She has since worked as an anatomical pathology technician and is now a mortuary manager. She lives in Cheltenham.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 537 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 272 Seiten
  • Verlag: Constable (15. Juni 2010)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B003RWS488
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #970.327 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.0 von 5 Sternen  49 Rezensionen
11 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen One woman's journey to becoming a certified mortuary technician 8. November 2010
Von James Denny - Veröffentlicht auf
Michelle William's biographical odyssey, "Down Among the Dead Men" is the story of her first year as a mortuary technician.

Does this sound like a job you would like? Could this be a job you aspire to? Read this book and find out!

After ten years of working for the national health service with disabled people, curiosity and the need for change lead her to apply for this job. Williams tells her tale in a straightforward, non-sensational narrative that "brings to life" what a mortuary technician does with the dead.

In reading this book, you'll learn some technical terminology. You will also learn new definitions for such common words as "crab" and "pluck."

After being accepted, her first few months in the hospital mortuary are something like an apprenticeship as she works with two much older and experienced male technicians who mentor her. Within a suprisingly short period of time, they come to accept her as a full-fledged member of the team, an occasion celebrated by a first-time pub crawl involving just the three of them. At this juncture, Williams realizes she has crossed the Rubicon. Her sense of duty and responsibility kick into high gear.

Teamwork proves to be very important in the business of doing post-mortems. Working effectively with hospital staff, funeral home directors, coroners, law enforcement officers and most important, the families of the deceased is essential, since smooth operations in the mortuary depend upon all of these parties.

Perhaps the personal climax of Williams' narrative is her quest to become certified near the end of her first year. As an over-30, she has gone without having to take tests for more than a decade. She has built up a high degree of test phobia.

Williams' narrative starts slowly and quietly draws you in. What makes it compelling is that that the work of a mortuary technician is invisible to most people. In modern society most people are so far removed from the particulars of the investigation of death, this work goes unrecognized. Williams' odyssey takes the covers off.
16 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Good story, but author should've used a good editor. 25. Oktober 2010
Kinder-Rezension - Veröffentlicht auf
I enjoyed this story. I enjoyed learning about this profession and what's involved. However, the author's use of the English language is poor and she rambles a bit (for example, "...and he wasn't smelling too clever either." Her tales of the mortuary were interesting, but I didn't want to know about her pub crawls and drinking binges. More enjoyable would've been better detail about the procedures and the politics involved in working in the NHS system in Britain('bound to be plenty!). She ought to have used a darn good editor and the book probably would've made her mint.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Down Among Bad Editors... 21. Januar 2012
Von Jared B - Veröffentlicht auf
Since I myself am going into the field of Mortuary Science I was rather curious about this book, needlessly to say that this book helped it greatly. I got to look at what it's like to be a Mortuary Technician though it takes place in the U.K (I'm from the states) I'm glad Michelle Williams could shed some light on the subject.
This book is hard to put down at times, but sometimes can be a little dreadful since the author rambles on about trivial things, which probably shouldn't have made it into the story what so ever.
Along with the rambling of the author whoever did the editing was doing a rather poor job all together. I've noticed that some of the sentences in the book don't go together misplaced periods and commas and the reoccurring story of how a guide dog led a man into a field who had a fate with a harvester. Please take note that this did not happen, the dog was a regular farm dog. The story goes that the man (who is deaf by the way) is taking his dog on a walk when he happens to take a nap in the middle of a field and doesn't hear the harvester coming.
A very good read, but I had to take away two stars due to the bad editing and the false statement of the fellow and the harvester.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Loved it! 2. Oktober 2012
Von atibamanii - Veröffentlicht auf
I found this book delightful, despite (or perhaps due to?) the less than beautiful descriptions of dead bodies in various stages of decay and abuse. The things we see and read today get so sanitized and "prettied up" that it is truly a treat to be exposed to real, real life--not the made up, doctored and produced crap we are fed on "reality" T.V.

Michelle Williams simply relates the story of her new job as a mortuary technician with Britain's National Health Service (NHS), giving us a complete description of her and her coworkers' duties, dedication (or not) to the job, and personalities. She also includes what they do during their off time, just in case we believe that working in a mortuary somehow makes you anything other than just a human.

I enjoyed the humor--yes there is humor--probably because my dad loved death humor so I was exposed early and often! For example, my dad's favorite joke of all time involved the road construction worker who was run over by one of those huge road roller machines that flattens out newly laid asphalt. It was a weekend and the funeral home was closed, so they just slipped him under the door. (I swear, my dad was not weird! He was just really, really funny.)

I also recognized the people because I grew up in a very tiny town where everyone knew everyone else, and all stories were public. I went to school with the children of the local undertaker/funeral home owner. He had a fine collection of classic cars, lent a couple to the makers of the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde, and was rewarded by first having to harass them into returning his cars, and then by getting them back with "bullet" holes in them! Believe me when I tell you that this was the event of the decade in that town!

If you are not put off by real life descriptions of things you don't usually see or even want to see personally, and would like some laughs, then I highly recommend this book. It's a fun, quick, and easy read.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting, but should have been spellbinding. 22. Januar 2012
Von tiggrie AKA Sarah - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Having read the book, I don't understand the reviews which say this makes people fear death even more (after all, why worry about what happens to your body when you've finished with it?) or that it shows lack of respect for the dead (not something that came across to me at all). I can only assume, regarding the privacy issue, that if the author had contravened her employer's procedures that she would have been called to task, so I don't feel I can comment much on that. It's not made clear whether details have been changed, or if the situations she writes about are "generic" autopsies, more about her experiences than about particular cases.

However, my beef with this book is that it's just badly written. The appearance of a second name suggests she had a ghost writer/some help, but if that is the case then it just suggests that between them, they still managed to do a lousy job.

There are lots of interesting, and sometimes affecting, stories here. One that has stayed with me is the accidental death of a little girl, the autopsy and the family's grief are both moving, and the sadness the staff feel for the situation is palpable.

Other anecdotes are revolting, or grimly amusing, or fascinating in a grisly way. Overall there is a lot of information, a lot to capture one's interests.

However, the writing is in its best chapters merely passable, and frequently dreadful. I wanted to go through it with a red pen! There is much too much focus solely on Williams' life away from the mortuary; the occasional reference is fine, and some things (like time spent with her loved ones after the little girl's autopsy) shed some light on how what she does for a living affects her away from work.

However there are many sections (and indeed two entire chapters) which are about boring, family things, have no relevance to her work, nothing in them of any interest regarding her personal life, and which any decent editor should have removed from the book without blinking. Chapter ten is the worst offender, an account of a bank holiday spent with family. I'm sure she had a lovely break, but nothing happens in the chapter is of any interest or has any relevance to anything; frankly, it's just plain _boring_. If it was written about by a good writer with a sense of humour and a deft touch, it may just have been passable (though IMO still would not have added anything to the book). As it is, I reached the end of the chapter thinking, "Why on EARTH did anyone leave that chapter in the book?" Painfully dull though that chapter was, it's sympomatic of a problem the book has throughout. There are just too many extraneous details, unnecessary repetitions, and bits of information that are just not interesting. Williams, or her ghostwriter/edtior(s), doesn't seem to be able to differentiate between the interesting and essential things about her story and the things which should have hit the cutting room floor.

Overall then: this book was, mostly, an enjoyable read. However, that was purely because of the subject matter. The writing is amateur, bordering on immature at times, and it would benefit hugely from a decent editor doing some pruning (or hacking, in a few places) to remove the sheer weight of dead wood. A great shame: in talented hands, I am convinced this would be an absolutely riveting book. As it is, it's just passable.
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