It's 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone -- a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress -- wakes to discover her two small children, Frankie Jr. and Cindy, have gone missing. Later that day, Cindy's body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, Frankie Jr.'s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth.
As police investigate the murders, the detritus of Ruth's life is exposed. Seen through the eyes of the cops, the empty bourbon bottles and provocative clothing which litter her apartment, the piles of letters from countless men and Ruth's little black book of phone numbers, make her a drunk, a loose woman -- and therefore a bad mother. The lead detective, a strict Catholic who believes women belong in the home, leaps to the obvious conclusion: facing divorce and a custody battle, Malone took her children's lives.
Pete Wonicke is a rookie tabloid reporter who finagles an assignment to cover the murders. Determined to make his name in the paper, he begins digging into the case. Pete's interest in the story develops into an obsession with Ruth, and he comes to believe there's something more to the woman whom prosecutors, the press, and the public have painted as a promiscuous femme fatale. Did Ruth Malone violently kill her own children, is she a victim of circumstance -- or is there something more sinister at play?
Inspired by a true story, Little Deaths, like celebrated novels by Sarah Waters and Megan Abbott, is compelling literary crime fiction that explores the capacity for good and evil in us all.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We were hooked after just one page of Emma Flint's taut, explosive debut novel. She bases her atmospheric thriller on a sensational murder case in 1965 New York—and attempts to unravel the grim mystery surrounding Ruth Malone, a scandalously independent woman accused of killing her two young children. Told from multiple points of view, Little Deaths doesn’t skimp on suspense or on surprises.
One of New York City's classic tabloid crime cases cocktail waitress Alice Crimmins's controversial conviction for the 1965 murders of her two young children becomes the springboard for British author Flint's affecting, achingly beautiful debut. That Ruth Malone, a separated single mom, leads an active sex life, including trysting with married men while her five-year-old Frankie Jr. and four-year-old Cindy remain home alone, locked in their bedroom, makes her the only suspect police seriously look into after her estranged husband reports the youngsters missing. And yet the deeper that fledgling crime reporter Pete Wonicke digs into the story, the more he becomes convinced that while Ruth may be guilty of many things, killing her kids isn't among them. Eschewing easy answers or Perry Mason miracles, Flint focuses squarely on Ruth's stiflingly straitened life in working-class Queens, close enough to gaze at the bewitching lights of Manhattan yet distant enough to feel marooned in another galaxy. This stunning novel is less about whodunit than deeper social issues of motherhood, morals, and the kind of rush to judgment that can condemn someone long before the accused sees the inside of a courtroom.
An amazing read
I definitely recommend
Three stars because even though you'll most likely know or suspect who-dunnit pretty early on, the writing is faced paced & keeps you interested enough to finish the book anyway. Would probably recommend this book if I don't forget about it, doesn't leave too much of an impression. Not bad though!
Depressing and slow
I didn't find many redeeming qualities when it came to the plot or characters. Overall, the whole thing was just depressing.