cover image Perfection to a Fault: A Small Murder in Ossipee, New Hampshire, 1916

Perfection to a Fault: A Small Murder in Ossipee, New Hampshire, 1916

Janice S.C. Petrie. Seatales, $7.99 e-book (154p) ISBN 978-0-9705510-0-9

Children’s book author Petrie’s crisp, quick-moving true crime account details the gruesome 1916 murder of Florence Arlene Small at the house she shared with her abusive husband, Frederick Small, in Carroll County, N.H. The victim’s body was found shot, bludgeoned, and strangled in shallow basement water after a fire burned down the primary structure of the Smalls’ Ossipee Lake cottage. Petrie starts the book in 1955 with her own link to the case (as a child she spent a night in the restored cottage where the murder took place), then goes back to Florence’s last day of life. She also examines the court record to provide a diligent account of the trial to convict Frederick for premeditated murder. Evidence against Frederick mounted: his manipulative past; the inventory of what he took with him to Boston after the murder, including a traveling satchel with the house deed; pieces of a timed incendiary device; proof of a recent purchase of kerosene; and a new life insurance policy on Florence. Petrie (Something’s Tugging on My Claw!) expertly puts details into historical context and annotates each chapter with newspaper and court documentation. Written in 2000 but even more intriguing as the 100th anniversary of the crime approaches, this thorough account will appeal to fans of true crime, especially those familiar with New England. (BookLife)