The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death by Corinne May Botz

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

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 forensi...

Details The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

TitleThe Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
Release DateSep 28th, 2004
PublisherThe Monacelli Press
Number of pages225 pages
GenreNonfiction, Crime, True Crime, Art, Photography, Mystery, Death

Reviews The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

  • Debra
    When we lived in DC for a few months we heard of this amazing museum of miniatures, open by appointment only, in the Office of the Medical Examiner in the murder capital of the U.S., Baltimore. David Byrne had mentioned it as one of his 10 favorite things in his hometown of Baltimore and when we went, with a special appointment weeks in advance, his name was just three before ours in the guestbook. The 25 or so diaoramas were made in exacting min...
  • Paul
    This one was a vast disappointment. The photography of the minature panoramas was at once top notch, beautiful intricate details, and also quite lacking, as the minatures were rarely-to-never seen in whole, so that their size could be gauged, and so that they could be appreciated for what they were. It reminded me of porn that focuses on genitalia, rather than people. Moreover, the author spent way too much time quoting this and that, and the quo...
  • Lizzie
    A big disappointment. It's photographs of meticulous miniature scenes, made by a woman who was a forensics professor to train detectives. So the very idea of that is rather cool, but that's about it. They took a quirky interesting thing and attempted to spin it into something dep and profound. The photos show the level of detail but are more artsy than revealing. They don't give any sense of scale and many things mentioned in the text aren't show...
  • Anita Dalton
    This book is amazing. Though the content is likely a bit morbid for most to consider it a coffee table book, had I coffee table, it would definitely be prominently displayed on mine. The book discusses the career of Frances Glessner Lee, a woman Corinne May Botz describes as: "brilliant, witty, and, by some accounts, impossible woman. She gave you what she thought you should have, rather than what you might actually want. She had a wonderful sens...
  • Carolyn
    I had to read this book after watching the documentary "Of Dolls and Murder" about Frances Glessner Lee's miniature crime scenes, and I'm glad I did the interlibrary loan option rather than spending money on it. On the plus side, it does cover all 18 surviving Nutshell Studies but Botz's coverage is haphazard, ranging from serious suggestions for forensic analysis to attempts at random symbology. (E.g., she highlights the print hanging over the b...
  • Alessandra Dreyer
    A beautifully shot book that really allows for the bizarre and utterly gripping work of Frances Glessner Lee to shine. Botz allows Lee's work to shine without much fuss. You can't put it down until the last page is seen.
  • Maureen
    The perfect coffin table book for the woman who has everything.
  • Chuck
    One of the odder and more fascinating books I have seen lately.
  • Narrelle
    I first saw Corinne May Botz’s book, The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in New York. It is a collection of art photos taken of Frances Glessner Lee’s dollhouse recreations of murder scenes.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 scienti...
  • Becky Loader
    Frances Glessner Lee was a woman who knew her mind from an early age. In 1878,she was born into wealth as the heiress to the International Harvester fortune and was determined not to be the typical female of the time. Denied college by her father, who believed ladies did not need an education, Frances was a life-long learner with attention to detail and manual skills. Frances became interested in forensic medicine when her brother brought home a ...
  • Christiane
    This is probably one of the oddest books I've ever seen. It is a beautifully photographed collection of little dollhouse dioramas of murder scenes built in the 1940s and 50s and based on real crime scenes. The level of detail is absolutely astonishing. Tiny little carpets are realistically frayed. Dishes on a table have scraps of food. Slippers are casually left on a bathmat. Clothes hang on a clothesline from teensy clothes pins. And then there ...
  • Min
    The images - beautiful. Though, I would have liked to see them in their entirety, too; not just shots of certain things. I agree with the others that the 'information' provided in the numbered diagrams is largely irrelevant to the scene depicted. Which is unfortunate, as the models are gorgeous and very detailed.I, too, found it frustrating to not know the answers to the murders. Though, the book says these are still in use as a training tool so ...
  • Nan
    I saw the documentary Of Dolls and Murder which prompted pulling this book out from the closed stacks at the library. Frances Glessner Lee created minature dioramas of crime scenes in the 1930s and 40s to help train detectives on observation and how to think more like medical examiners. This author, Corinne May Botz, did amazing photographs of these Nutshell Studies. I am totally fascinated by a society lady, the heir to the International Harvest...
  • Alyson Dickerman
    A very interesting photo book of 1940s Era crime scene dioramas. Created by a wealthy, and bitterly unfulfilled education -wise, society woman named Frances Glessner Lee, these "nutshell studies" were meticulously created in order to provide detectives in-depth training when examining crime scenes. They are based on real crimes, but were not meant to be solved. The stories are very interesting, and the photos are striking. However, some of the te...
  • Patrick Seymour
    This book was a bit of a let down. Frances Glessner Lee's dioramas are amazing and I am glad there is a book about her and her work. However, this book did not do it justice. The photography was good, but as other people mentioned you rarely got to see more than a few pieces of each room, never as a whole. The introduction and background on Lee was wandering and could have used some editing. Finally if you want to play amateur detective and try t...
  • Heather
    a neat little look at what happens when an intelligent, creative woman is faced with the oppression of gender expections; creepy death scenes in miniature. don't be fooled by the macabre surface; much of the book is concerned with gendered modes of creative expression. still you don't have to be a feminist to appreciate the craft and ingenuity of the nutshell studies. ms. botz photos are great, and each "study" represents a unique mystery. only a...
  • Pat
    As a fan of murder mysteries, I appreciate the focus (though not the writing). But I didn't buy this book for the mysteries; I bought it for the miniature scenes. As a collector of dollhouse miniatures, I can only say, "Wow." The scenes are amazing, with spectacular detail. That's what my 5 stars are for: the rooms are well photographed, and it's possible to really appreciate the work that went into building these rooms.
  • Kayla
    I was not satisfied with this book. There was a bunch of text in the beginning and the rest of the book was dollhouse like pictures of crime scenes. That was it. Not much info on the crime scenes themselves as much as on the photographer and way the scenes were set up. I think I was expecting more on the crime scenes themselves and because of that I was greatly disappointed. I got this as a gift and it was promptly returned. Not so much the books...
  • Liz
    While the photographs in this book are executed with interesting camera angles and dramatic lighting, they sadly don't ever show the miniature scenes in their entirety. Illustrated room overviews were coupled with teasing descriptions of things not visible in the photographs. On the other hand, the photos do show the incredible amount of work and the amazing details put into each scene. It has convinced me that I need to see the Nutshells in pers...
  • Wendy
    I am fascinated by Frances Glessner Lee, who created the Nutshell Studies. I originally learned about her through a podcast, and have been doing more research. In the 30's & 40's she created crime scenes on a 1"=1' scale, which were then used to train police officers on forensics. They are still in use in Maryland, and I'm dying to go see them! Also having some interesting thoughts about renovating the dollhouse my grandpa made me when I was litt...
  • Beth
    In the 1930s, Frances Glessner Lee, who apparently had a lot of time on her hands and no other use for her dollhouse hobby, created a series of death scenes that are used for training by investigators. Botz went through and photographed some of these scenes, and for very few, provided explanations of whether is was an accidental death, murder, or suicide. I have learned throughout this book that I would make a crappy investigator. Still, fun to l...
  • Flora
    This book is AMAZING. It's about Frances Glessner Lee, who was a New Hampshire police captain and founded Harvard's Department of Legal Medicine in 1936. The "nutshell studies" were little dollhouses/dioramas of crime scenes used for the training of detectives. Oh. I'm verklempt just thinking about how much I love this book.
  • Michael Braithwaite
    Here's the deal. This is an amazing book about an old woman in the beginning of the 20th century who came from money and decided to spend her life reconstructing crime scenes dioramas with dollhouse furniture and fake blood.She was an incredible woman and this book contains some incredible photos.
  • Slmstanley
    I really enjoyed this book - I just wish the photographs had been a little clearer and more comprehensive. However, the detail on these little dioramas - built to help train police officers - is amazing, and I would love to see them up close.
  • Jane
    I adore books about eccentrics. This one is a doozy: a pent-up socialite takes to modeling tiny dioramas of death to promote forensic training for policemen. Seriously. Haven't read one as good as this since The Queen of Whale Cay.
  • George Harris
    Interesting look at Frances Glesner Lee, an intelligent woman confined by the social expectation of the age who nevertheless was able to find an outlet for her interest in the burgeoning field of legal medicine.
  • Winter Branch
    Very neat and worth checking out. I love returning to this book from time to time, eventually my friend will probably stop letting me borrow it. ^_^ I just need to track down a copy of my own to add to my bookshelf.
  • Fishface
    A really interesting read about the creation of a series of death-scene tableaux used to train law enforcement in how to notice, interpret and preserve crime-scene evidence. The backstory is remarkable, as is the creator of the dioramas. Really worth a look.
  • Meredith
    Such an eerie bit of weirdness...made more incredible by the fact that the murder scenes were first constructed by a police inspector. I'm not sure I feel the photographs speak to May Botz's own skills as a photographer, but they're still quite interesting to look at.
  • Laura
    Doesn't tell you how the folks died in each study/box, which is kinda withholding the punchline, the one thing you really deeply want to know ... but is completely fascinating nonetheless. Loaned to me by my fascinating best friend Crystal. :)