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The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death Hardcover – September 28, 2004
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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"
Top Customer Reviews
For the mystery minded, the book offers clues along with the bad photos but does not solve the mysteries.
I would suggest that you go & look at it in a bookstore before you decide to buy it. You just might save yourself some money.
What many do not know was that Frances's father was the founder/presidenet of International Harvester and they had a home on thousands of acres. Her brother went on the Harvard University but her father didn't believe in higher education for females. She became fascinated with Forensic Science and the prperty she inherited was covered with walnut trees. She began to buld detaled miniature crime scenes in the walnut shells - comlete to the color/print of the clothing; hair color; eye color if their eyes were open postmortem. She married late in life; had children, then divorced.
I first read about her in a quarterly issue of my Forensic Examiner journal, since I am a member of the American College of Forensic Examiners Insitute.
Publication Date: September 28, 2004
The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death offers readers an extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a master criminal investigator. Frances Glessner Lee, a wealthy grandmother, founded the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard in 1936 and was later appointed captain in the New Hampshire police. In the 1940s and 1950s she built dollhouse crime scenes based on real cases in order to train detectives to assess visual evidence. Still used in forensic training today, the eighteen Nutshell dioramas, on a scale of 1:12, display an astounding level of detail: pencils write, window shades move, whistles blow, and clues to the crimes are revealed to those who study the scenes carefully.Read more ›
The dioramas were not merely macabre toys put together by a fan of true crime. Lee painstakingly created the scenarios in the 1940s and 50s for a very serious purpose: training investigating police on the correct scientific methods of approaching crime scenes, observing all details which may bear on the case.
At the time, medical law was still very much a work in progress – murders often passed undetected or badly investigated. Frances Glessner Lee, a Chicago heiress, founded Harvard’s Department of Legal Medicine and built these gruesome displays of domestic murder, mishap and accidental death to train police in observation. The models are still in use today by the Baltimore Police.
An astonishing level of detail went into their creation. Lee sometimes wore clothes for a year past their effective use-by date so they’d have the correct wear for the tiny figures in their boxes. She ordered parts, she disassembled and reworked and reconstructed them. She had pieces made from scratch. There are tiny calendars and books (including The Sign of the Four), miniature tools and household implements, medically accurate colouring (bright red skin for victims of carbon monoxide poisoning) and domestic details recreated to scale. Many of the scenarios were based on real cases, altered and expanded slightly to fit their purpose as training materials.
The Studies taught generations of investigative officers how to keep their eyes open, to look for corroborating evidence and to seek out contradictory clues.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beyond creepy. If you love true crime, you'll love this book.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Fascinating book. Incredible little-known ba ground info and engrossing pictures. Highly recommend it.Published 8 months ago by Cat Lady
Weird photos of weird dioramas of unsolved murder cases. Fascinating and disturbing on several levels, not least of which the story of the obsessive woman who made them. Read morePublished 8 months ago by LSP NYC
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 11 months 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 11 months 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 on July 17, 2014 by Eleanor Kilham
The book is exactly as I expected. Which is the best review possible. No surprisesPublished on June 28, 2014 by marymomo