True crime buffs will find lots to like in this debut biography of Frances Glessner Lee, the mother of modern forensics. Born in Chicago in the 1870s, Lee was a wealthy socialite when she began to develop an interest in crime. When she learned that detectives received no real training in working with crime scenes and routinely destroyed evidence, she was inspired to begin her life’s work, the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. This series of dollhouses appears normal until you spot the small details; overturned chairs, blood stained carpets, and tiny bodies that wore clothing that she knit on sewing pins. Because of this work, detectives for the first time had a chance to study and practice their craft, and procedures were finally developed to standardize the way that scenes were investigated. Goldfarb is the current curator of the Nutshell Studies, and he’s written a fascinating, hard to put down portrait of an early feminist and formidable thinker.

Try it if you liked: Netflix’s Mindhunter, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, or Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann.

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