The Dollhouse Murders

Posted by on February 24, 2012

Book cover: The Dollhouse Murders

The Dollhouse Murders, by Thomas P. Mauriello.

Subtitle: A Forensic Expert Investigates 6 Little Crimes.

Thomas Mauriello is an expert crime scene investigator and also teaches the subject. In 1992, he saw the “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” dioramas, a series of 18 dollhouse miniatures of crime scenes. They were created in the 1940′s by Frances Glessner Lee to help train police recruits in how to really see the details. Mauriello decided to create his own set of miniatures not only to help his students learn to observe, but also to show them how everything they were learning about forensics and physical evidence tied together.

In this book, Mauriello, with the help of Ann Darby, presents six short mystery stories that follow the detectives who are investigating these tiny crime scenes, the observations they make, and the proper handling of evidence. (One they mention a lot: use paper bags, not plastic bags, to protect the evidence on the victim’s hands, unless you want warmth-loving bacteria to contaminate the evidence. I’m looking at you, CSI.)

If you insist on always finding out whodunnit, you might find this book frustrating, since they don’t always provide the answers. If, however, you’re more interested in the forensics process, I recommend you give this book a try.

To learn more about Frances Glessner Lee and her miniature scenes, see the San Diego Union-Tribune. Close-up photos can be seen in the Bruce Goldfarb blog and in the New York Times.

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