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DEATH IN MINIATURE, Historical Mystery – Pamela Meyer

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Pamela Meyer 
Historical Mystery

Kate Belli’s Gilded Gotham Mysteries meets Bones in DEATH IN MINIATURE, a 98,000-word mystery set in 1906 Boston. DEATH IN MINIATURE is inspired by the world’s ‘mother of forensics,’ Frances Glessner Lee, and her true-to-life crime-scene miniatures.

1906 Boston. A married heiress, fascinated with solving mysteries and making crime-scene miniatures to foster her investigative process, defies convention and risks family censure to live a secret double life as an unmarried pathologist. 

Back when suffragettes began to rumble, a farmer hangs dead in his barn. Frances Harvester Warden teams up with Boston detective William Leeson to investigate. She makes a detailed, to-scale miniature of the barn, and with it, helps solve the case. But in the interim, she must contend with a newsman probing into rumors about a woman working in the morgue. Meanwhile, another threat to her secrets arises—she’s fallen hard for the stiff and meticulous detective. Too bad she’s married.

When the suspicion she’s being watched materializes into mortal danger, she’s never felt so alone. Everything she ever wanted, everything she never knew she wanted, depends on finding the so-far elusive clues that will turn the case in time to convict the guilty, save the innocent, and keep her both out of the papers—and alive. 

In the tradition of Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell and Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock, DEATH IN MINIATURE sets our heroine on a twisty path uncoiling a mystery as she finds her own love story along the way. 

DEATH IN MINIATURE is envisioned as the first in a series. Book two, DEATH IN MINIATURE—PINK BATHROOM, is in progress.

Prose sample:

“Convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.”
― Frances Glessner Lee, Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

Chapter 1: Once Upon a Hardscrabble Farm
(June 1906)
The morgue-wagon horse nickered behind her as she took a deep breath, the expansion of her lungs challenging the restraint of her corset. And with her fine shoes muddied on this warm morning, Frances stepped over the threshold of the weathered old barn. The eerily floating body of the farmer materialized as her eyes adjusted to the dim and the thin rope of the noose came into focus. Although this was not her first dead body, it was the first one she had seen in situ. Underneath the farmer, a glowing beam of sunrise pierced through the back window, illuminating Detective William Leeson, a man of thirty. Squatting with his flashlight, peering through the wooden slats of a trunk-sized broken crate under the body, he examined the floor intently—very intently. 
What has he found? Perhaps an insect. Good!
The stages of development of certain insects could indicate the time of death. Or the location where a body might have been and whether it had been moved. And these can lead to identification and finding the actual scene of the crime. Sweet apple carts, how she wished to be the one doing the investigating, to be judged of value to Leeson’s team. 
This very second, Frances stood merely a heartbeat away from obtaining her dream job as a pathologist, deep in the thick of helping the police solve crimes justly—if she could impress the man currently mesmerized by the floor right in front of her.
Shaking off her thoughts, she turned to making observations. Neatly piled hay to one side, orderly storage of tools. The noose, rigged up from the barn’s hay hoist, an overturned pail nearby. As for the trunk-sized crate, its top slats broke inward, the farmer’s feet dangling inside as if it collapsed under his weight. But it did not look right. 
“Good morning, Detective Leeson. Circumstances notwithstanding, it is a pleasure to meet you.” Her voice resonated through the dust-speckled, hay-scented space sounding too much like her twenty-eight-year-old, untested self. “Dr. McTash and Mr. Potter arranged for me to—”
“Mm,” Leeson grunted and, without averting his eyes, waved her closer. 
Crossing the barn floor, she joined him under the suspended body, carefully placing a knee down across from him, the crate and dangling legs of the dead man between them. All the while, she ensured her ankle-length skirt did not catch, and her position remained that nearly impossible combination of appropriate lady-like comportment and functionality. A glance to the floor through the slats.
“That is peculiar,” she puzzled. 
He lifted his eyes to hers… Deep and brown…Keen and all-encompassing.
“Water from the pail?” she offered. “He dumped it out to stand on it?” 
“Mm. Very good. But then, why the crate?”  
“It does seem cumbersome to use for suicide,” she said. “And if he accidentally fell through the slats, breaking them when he stood on it, he could have gained purchase on the edges to save himself. And I agree, considering the pail, why use two makeshift stools for the deed?” 


As a high school forensic science teacher, I discovered inventive ways to solve crimes and Lee’s stunning miniature crime scenes. I am a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America.

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