Bizarre and utterly fascinating, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death is a dark and disturbing photographic journey through criminal cases and the mind of Frances Glessner Lee--grandmother, dollhouse-maker, and master criminal investigator. Photographer Corinne May Botz stumbled across the "Nutshell Studies" while making a video about women who collect dollhouses. On the suggestion of a collector, she visited the Baltmore Medical Examiner's Office, where Lee's miniature reconstructions of crime scenes were on display. The macabre dioramas fascinated and repulsed her: "I was entranced by the details: the porcelain doll with a broken arm in the attic, the grains of sugar on the kitchen floor...I was also riveted by the miniature corpses. Shot in bed, collapsed in the bathtub, hung in the attic and stabbed in the closet; all were eternally frozen in miniature rooms that had become their tombs."
A remarkable woman, Frances Glessner Lee established the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard in 1936. At the time, innumerable murders went undetected because evidence was mishandled, or ignored. To train investigators of sudden and violent deaths to better assess visual evidence, Lee created the Nutshell Studies--dollhouses that students could study from every angle, with minute crime scenes details taken from actual cases. Lee created 18 dioramas, using only the most mysterious cases (cases that could have been ruled as accidents, murders, or suicides) to train detectives and challenge their ability to read evidence.
Botz reveals as much about the nature of obsession as she does about Frances Glessener Lee--each model is painstakingly photographed from multiple vantage points, allowing the reader to witness the astounding level of realism and precision in each case, as well as giving the reader unobstructed access to each eerie setting. All 18 studies include a brief synopsis of each case, as well as a key to each grisly floor plan. Perfect for amateur sleuths, aspiring medical examiners, and fans of CSI, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death is grim and oh so bewitching. --Daphne Durham
Inside The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
Case: "Living Room"
Case: "Three-Room Dwelling"
Case: "Dark Bathroom"
"The Nutshell dioramas are compelling, a bit disturbing, and engagingly weird—it never previously seemed possible to use the words 'forsenic' and 'cute' in the same sentence. Corinne May Botz has done a grand job both in exposing them to a nonspecialist public and in photographing them with such fanatical verisimilitude." —Luc SanteSee all Editorial Reviews
I can't even begin to describe how much I love this book. If I could change one thing about it, I would like the photos to be a little less artsy. Read morePublished 14 days ago by JOAN L
This is a fantastic find. My husband purchased this for after I watched a documentary about the nutshell studies. The photographs are spectacular.Published 15 days ago by Carli Davis
Fascinating book about an unusual woman who created 20 miniature room boxes which were used as forensic teaching tools. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Eleanor Kilham
The book is exactly as I expected. Which is the best review possible. No surprisesPublished 14 months ago by marymomo
I was very excited to receive this book in the mail. As soon as I took it out of its packaging, I immediately began to read through it. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Erika
Fascinating and informative. Would love to have been able to meet the subject of the book. How many wanna be detectives were trained with these tiny reenactments?Published 18 months ago by Pamala Ruby Joy
This is a great book. It's beyond any explanation of purpose or use. It's just a fun book to own and look at and read. Read morePublished 19 months ago by lasheliz
I am an artist and find this book inspirational and creepy fabulous. The author was hit hard by the glass ceiling in the early part of the 20th century and applied her artistic,... Read morePublished 22 months ago by E. Weiss