Honors and Awards: Perfection To A Fault was voted "Best in New Hampshire" by New Hampshire Magazine, and was very favorably reviewed this summer by Kirkus Reviews. This book was chosen for a lead segment on WCVB-TV Boston's "Chronicle" program.
Perfection To A Fault: A Small Murder in Ossipee, New Hampshire, 1916 is the true crime, historical non-fiction account of the events that encompassed a murder and trial at the turn of the century in Ossipee, New Hampshire. When Florence Small's smoldering body rose to the surface of the basement water, local folks immediately suspected her husband of the crime. Frederick Small was an outsider, a Boston man, who had moved to Ossipee Lake to semi-retire. There was a deep distrust of "city fellas up there behind the Ossipees," in 1916 and perhaps this suspicion was warranted. But how could Frederick have been responsible for a murder and a fire that happened seven hours after he had left for Boston on a business trip? The sensational trial that followed was unlike any previously experienced in Carroll County. And although everybody from the Boston area, to Portland, Maine, to New York City had an opinion, nobody anticipated the decision the jury would reach. The unrest on the ill-fated property remained even in 1956, when Anna Foley's unsuspecting son and daughter-in-law felt the effects of the events of 1916 one August night while vacationing on the property.
As the 100th anniversary of this captivating story approaches, Seatales Publishing Company is excited to announce the second printing of Perfection To A Fault. It's the exact same story that was so favorably reviewed by Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, among others. A new cover design and a much requested Photo Gallery were added to enhance the second printing of this book.
An Exciting Publication: About a year ago, a woman named Janice Petrie came to the museum and told me that she was writing a book about the murder of Florence Small, which occurred in Ossipee, in 1916. It is a fascinating case and Janice, who is from Massachusetts, had an unusual connection to the story. I was fortunately able to provide Janice with some information concerning the case, although I wondered if the book would ever come to fruition. How excited I was, then, to receive the other day, a copy of her published book, Perfection To A Fault: A Small Murder in Ossipee, New Hampshire, 1916. Having now read it, I can honestly say that Janice has done a wonderful job (and historically accurate) in portraying the persons and events involved in the murder and subsequent trial. The story is riveting and suspenseful, and I won’t give away any of the details-you’ll have to read the book yourself. I congratulate Janice for a job well done.
A murder case that still haunts Lake Ossipee
A century ago, much like today, tales of domestic violence rarely made the papers unless someone died. In 1916, Florence Small was beaten, strangled and shot to death before her home was set ablaze. The sheriff immediately arrested her domineering and abusive husband, Frederick Small. The only problem was that Small insisted on his innocence, had an airtight alibi and was nowhere near the house when the fire broke out.
Janice Petrie’s account of the sensational trial and its legacy are well told in this slim volume of local history. Petrie’s interest in the case stemmed from her family’s unwitting stay in a lakeside cottage built over the remains of the original crime scene. She describes cold drafts, an ominous presence and a terrified little boy in a chapter that will make readers’ hair stand on end. Nobody writes about a haunting with more chilling effect than someone who does not believe in ghosts.
The trial of Frederick Small captivated most of New England at the time. There was little or no direct evidence against the accused and murder was a capital offense. The defendant hired the best lawyers money could buy, the state was represented by the attorney general himself and the judge was considered scrupulously fair. The outcome was anything but certain.
Poor Florence must not have been totally satisfied with the verdict; apparently she still haunts the shores of Lake Ossipee.
"Petrie (Did You Make the Hole in the Shell in the Sea?, 2013, etc.) vividly re-creates the circumstances and aftermath of an early 20th-century murder in this true-crime book.
A cottage on the shore of New Hampshire’s Lake Ossipee seems an unlikely location for a grisly murder, but Petrie notes that there might have been “an unrest on that piece of property that wouldn’t disappear with the passage of time.” She cleverly opens not with the crime itself but with new owners arriving in 1955. Sensing an unearthly chill as they entered the cottage, they never returned to the place after their first visit and quickly sold it. Everyone in the gossipy community knew that Florence Small had died in a suspicious house fire on September 28, 1916; her husband, Frederick, was convicted of her murder and hanged. As Petrie chronicles that momentous day as well as Small’s trial and sentencing, she enlivens her story with excellent dialogue and scene-setting. She discusses the case in great detail, often drawing on newspaper stories, but the facts never become too overwhelming for readers. On the day in question, Petrie writes, Small and a friend traveled to Boston to broker insurance sales; that evening, he received a message that his home had burned down with Florence inside. Small acted suitably distraught, but the next day, the circumstances looked too perfect. His satchel contained important documents one wouldn’t want to lose in a fire; he’d taken out a large joint life insurance policy; and he had a history of domestic violence. By gradually revealing these salient pieces of background information, Petrie’s pacey prose puts readers in the same position as the investigators. It’s intriguing to learn how advanced forensic science was at the time: from Florence’s stomach contents, for example, experts could pinpoint the hour of her death, and investigators eventually determined that Small could have used a timed incendiary device to start the fire in his absence.
Exhaustive detail and flawless re-creations make for real suspense in this
nonfiction tale."—Kirkus Reviews
Voted Best in New Hampshire by New Hampshire Magazine.
Speaking of murder, Janice Petrie chronicles a real-life murder 85 years after the fact in Perfection To A Fault: A Small Murder in Ossipee, New Hampshire, 1916. Speaking of the ‘50’s, it was 1956 when the seed for the book was planted. Petrie, then a baby, spent a wild night with her family in a cottage built on the foundation of the house where the gruesome murder of Florence Small took place. Though Petrie was too young to remember the ghostly presences that terrified her brother and her parents (and sent them fleeing first thing the next morning) she heard the story many times growing up and decided to research the source of the haunting. The result is an engaging ghost story, murder mystery, and courtroom drama.