18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics

Sourcebooks. Feb. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9781492680475. $25.99. CRIME
Goldfarb (Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Maryland Dept. of Health) pays tribute to Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962), the patron of medical examiners. In 1929, Lee, a wealthy Chicago native, became reacquainted at age 51 with the Suffolk County, MA, medical examiner when both were hospitalized in Boston. At that time, legal medicine, while established in Europe, was still in its infancy in the United States. Goldfarb covers Lee’s life chronologically, showing her devotion to forensic science. At the same time, the author addresses the national development of death investigation science. As Goldfarb points out, there are continuing problems with nonmedical death investigations in the United States. Lee funded Harvard's Department of Legal Medicine, became the first female police captain in the United States, and built meticulous miniature models of death scenes for investigators to study.
VERDICT Goldfarb’s clearly written and well-researched book is recommended for history and legal studies audiences. For further reading, suggest Corinne May Botz’s The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
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