REVIEW: 18 Tiny Deaths, Bruce Goldfarb #BLOGTOUR

Friday, 3 April 2020

The story of the Gilded Age Chicago heiress who revolutionized forensic death investigation. As the mother of forensic science, Frances Glessner Lee is the reason why homicide detectives are a thing. She is responsible for the popularity of forensic science in television shows and pop culture. Long overlooked in the history books, this extremely detailed and thoroughly researched biography will at long last tell the story of the life and contributions of this pioneering woman.

Bruce Goldfarb's 18 Tiny Deaths charts the startling, fascinating, world-wind journey of Frances Glessner Lee into a burgeoning world of forensic science and pathology. Widely regarded as the mother of the subject, Lee's life is the stuff of scientific myth: how an upper-class Chicagoan grandmother became the propelling force behind the death industry and completely revolutionised the American approach to the study of suspicious deaths. By placing Lee's life into the context of the gilded age, the world wars and the evolving generations of the prestigious Glessner and Lee families (the Coca-Cola story is a particular unexpected delight), Goldfarb manages to evoke in his audience a real sense of the woman's miraculous life: how privilege, education and (most importantly of all) self-propulsion came together to offer Lee a knowledge of pathology and forensics that society would not normally have allowed her. Lee comes alive in these pages and, through the inclusion of adolescent diary entries and passages from an unpublished autobiography, both the monotony and the wonder of her life is revealed in all of its splendour.
Her voice rings out; her knowledge, her persistence, her erudition.
The inclusion of the inner-workings of her world - that of her parents, her upbringing and her doomed marriage - come together to form a person more of the future than of the past; one endlessly fascinated in the unspeakable subject of death and the desire to bring justice to all of its victims.
Lee's legacy is unknowable; how many lives she changed, how much justice she brought, how many eyes she opened, will be forever intangible. She revolutionised death, and therefore life, and for that, all of us will alway hold her (and her unknowingly vast contributions) dear to our hearts.

Thanks to Octopus Books and Anne Cater for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Head on over to for this book, as well as all of the others featured in my reviews, complete with the added bonuses of free worldwide shipping and bringing a little joy to my life.

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