So today I’m part of a super exciting blog tour, it’s a non-fiction about the untold story of one woman who changed the way murders were investigated, this is right up my alley so a massive thank you to Anne from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.
Let’s jump right in…
18 Tiny Deaths is the remarkable story of how one woman changed the
face of murder investigation forever.
Born in 1878, Frances Glessner Lee’s world was set to be confined to the domestic sphere.
She was never expected to have a career, let alone one steeped in death and depravity.
Yet she was to become known as ‘the mother of forensic science’.
This is her story.
Frances Glessner Lee’s mission was simple: she wanted to train detectives to ‘convict the guilty, clear the innocent and find the truth in a nutshell’. This was a time of widespread corruption, amateur sleuthing and bungled cases. With the help of her friend, the pioneering medical examiner George Magrath, Frances set out to revolutionise police investigation.
Her relentless pursuit of justice led her to create ‘The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death’, a series of dollhouse-sized crime scene dioramas depicting actual cases in exquisitely minute detail that Lee used to teach homicide investigators.
They were first used in homicide seminars at Harvard Medical School in the 1930s, and then became part of the longest running and still the highest regarded police training seminar in America.
Celebrated the world over by scientists, artists and miniaturists, these macabre scenes helped to establish her legendary reputation as ‘the mother of modern forensics’, influencing people the world over,
including Scotland Yard.
Frances wanted justice for all. She became instrumental in elevating murder investigation to a scientific discipline.
Frances Glessner Lee was so determined and didn’t let the fact that she was a woman in 30’s and 40’s trying to make a mark on a world that was predominately male. This was evident when John Edgar Hoover became director of the FBI as he “fired all female agents and prohibited hiring of any women for these positions”.
The pursuit of truth must be relentless, as Captain Lee reminds us. Scientific facts must be followed wherever they lead, to clear the innocent and convict the guilty.
This was such a fascinating look at the history of medical examiners, it’s hard to believe that they began as politically motivated coroners without medical knowledge. There was a lot of time spent on her wealth and this seemed to be a very prominent factor throughout the book. This was definitely focused on the invention of modern forensics rather than the application to real cases.
I loved the pictures added of each miniature crime scene, in the appendix we are given an outline of what the case was as well as it’s outcome.
It’s shocking to see how hard she had to fight just to get people to realise that many murders were being missed and that crime scenes needed to be investigated differently.
This is a must read for those with an interest in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science.
So Who is Bruce Goldfarb?
Bruce Goldfarb is the executive assistant to the Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland, US, where the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are housed. He gives conducted tours of the facility and is also a trained forensic investigator. He began his career as a paramedic before working as a journalist, reporting on medicine, science
He collaborated with Susan Marks – the documentary filmmaker who produced the 2012 film about Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshells titled Of Dolls and Murder.
See you guys in the next one…