A WASHINGTON POST BEST THRILLER/MYSTERY OF 2017
A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF 2017
It's 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malonea single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitresswakes 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 womanand 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 circumstanceor 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.
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About the Author
Emma Flint was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England. She studied English and History at the University of St Andrews and is a graduate of the Faber Academy writing program in London. Since her childhood, Flint has read true-crime accounts, developing an encyclopedic knowledge of real-life murder cases and of notorious historical figures, as well as a fascination with unorthodox womenpast, present and fictional. Flints works as a technical writer in London, where she lives. Little Deaths is her first novel.
What People are Saying About This
"An absolutely gripping debut! Emma Flint spins a lyrical tale of horror and suspense in the vivid and thick atmosphere of 1965 Queens. Even after I finished, the story would not leave me. I cannot wait to read more from this talented author."
“I absolutely believed in the setting: the sleaze, the corruption, and the glamour. The dialogue is pitch perfect and Ruth Malone is a complex and fascinating character. This is a novel about sex, obsession, and discrimination, but it's also a thriller that keeps you guessing until the last page.” -Ann Cleeves
“A gripping read that is at the same time deeply real. A beautifully written and realized debut. I absolutely loved it.” Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat
“I couldn't put it down . . . So utterly satisfying, intriguing, and brilliant that everything else falls short. I can't wait for Emma Flint's next book.” Emma Chapman, author of How To Be a Good Wife
“Gripping and shattering. Ruth's story will stay with me for the rest of my life.” Erin Kelly, author of The Poison Tree
“LITTLE DEATHS is a stunning feat . . . Ruth Malone's descent into hell is a riveting tale of bad luck, heartbreak, and prejudice, written with the pace of a thriller and the rich detail of a historical novel.” Jane Casey, author of The Missing
“Emma Flint's LITTLE DEATHS beguiles readers with a most harrowing crime: two children dead, their mother, Ruth, the likely suspect. Readers will as easily pity Ruth as doubt and denounce her, as Flint seduces us with a gem of a whodunit, making us question our every instinct. Deeply moody and moving, LITTLE DEATHS embodies the role of women in the sixties, especially those who dared to deviate from societal norms.” Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl
“An absolutely gripping debut! Emma Flint spins a lyrical tale of horror and suspense in the vivid and thick atmosphere of 1965 Queens. Even after I finished, the story would not leave me. I cannot wait to read more from this talented author.” Beth Harbison, New York Times bestselling author of One Less Problem Without You
“Utterly atmospheric and with style to burn, Emma Flint's LITTLE DEATHS is a novel that troubles and transfixes from its simmering first pages all the way to its searing final words.” Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me
“LITTLE DEATHS is a rarity: a period piece and police procedural that is wrenching and real and deeply moving. I fell fast and hard under the spell of this lush, moody, film noir of a novel.” Chris Bohjalian, New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room, The Sandcastle Girls, and Midwives
“A phenomenal achievement. LITTLE DEATHS is one of those so-very-rare accomplishments: a lightning fast, heart-pounding, psychologically resonant crime novel that effortlessly transcends genre. If you believed that literary fiction can't be a one-sitting read, think again.” Jeffery Deaver
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ssounds good but authors style just poor. I was not moved by any of the characters. Couldnt bring myself to care. Will read true story instead.
Outstanding. Highly recommend!!
Little Deaths was inspired by a true story and takes place in Queens, New York City in 1965 with the noise of the World's Fair in the background of a sweltering summer. The story focuses on the dysfunctional family of Frank and Ruth Malone, recently separated, and their two children, Frank Jr., 5, and Cindy, 4. Ruth's father, who she adored, died when she was still in high school and her relationship with her mother was rocky to say the least. Marriage seemed her only way out of a miserable situation and she couldn't wait to finish high school, marry Frank and make her escape. She felt it would make her secure — which it did for awhile. Once it no longer did, she asked Frank to leave their apartment and she looked for security elsewhere. A 26-year-old cocktail waitress, Ruth often came home with company, drank too heavily, and gained a certain reputation. She was, however, a devoted mother who provided love, time, and routine for her kids. The book begins on July 12th as we follow Ruth's routine — a day like any other. The 13th begins the same way and then, without warning, everything goes awry. When she unlocks the kids' bedroom door, they're gone! Panic sets in immediately. Flint paints a picture of a lonely, scared, insecure mother who grieves in her own way, while the police, neighbours, and even reporters, see an alcoholic tramp who seems to have not shed a tear over her children who turn up dead — Cindy that very day and Frankie more than a week later. They already have her convicted; they just have to find the evidence. Pete Wonicke of the Herald begins with the same attitude but slowly sees a different person emerge. His own convictions of what is right or wrong will be challenged before the story is over. At the beginning of this story, I was rather put off by some of the language and questioned whether I would like the novel or not. As I got further into it, it became a compelling read up until the trial. While we probably all accept that corrupt cops are a part of our police history (and hope that such things no longer exist today although that may be naive), it seemed to me that the trial itself was unrealistic. The prosecutor's summing up in particular, saying he had proven this and that, was totally bogus as he had not proven any such thing and the most damaging evidence had been refuted completely. Having said that, the solution to the killings came as a total surprise but then it all ended rather abruptly. All in all I had mixed feelings about the book but found it generally disappointing.
At first blush, I was unsure of this novel. Was I wrong. I became wrapped up in the story from the first few pages. The book is wonderful even though it tells a heart-wrenching story. Ruth is accused of killing her children. Our narrator is a reporter who wants to get to the bottom of Ruth’s crime. In the end, the reporter does not quite do that and becomes corrupted by outside influences. This is a story about regular people who have to fight through what life has presented. This is much more than a murder mystery; it is a story about what could happen to any of us and how we can overcome horrendous circumstances seemingly beyond our control.
Little Deaths is Emma Flint's latest novel. Flint professes that "Since childhood, she has been drawn to true crime stories, developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of real-life murder cases. She is equally fascinated by notorious historical figures and by unorthodox women – past, present and fictional." Those interests are put to good use in Little Deaths. The novel is a fascinating blend of literary mystery, character study and social commentary. Set in 1960's blue collar New York. Ruth Malone is a single working mother of two. She works nights as a cocktail waitress - and yes, she exploits her looks and her body for extra tips. And even when not working, she likes to look good. And so what if she unwinds with a drink now and then. Sex is not a taboo word for her either. Except that one morning she wakes up and her children are missing. Gone. And Ruth's lifestyle, demeanor and attitude all factor into the police's opinion of what happened. The reader knows from the first pages that Ruth is in prison. Flint takes the reader back through the investigation, vilification and conviction of Ruth. Her clothes, her drinking, her carousing, her not behaving 'as she should.' The glimpses into Ruth's past, mind and thinking are fascinating and go far to explain who Ruth is - and why she wears 'armor.' I was sickened by the police investigation, the bullying of the lead officer, the newspaper's bias, the certainty by most of the neighborhood that she is guilty. One reporter doesn't believe she is guilty though and makes it his mission to clear Ruth's name. While Ruth is not perhaps a likeable character, my sympathies were in her corner. And as I read, I realized that really, nothing has changed. Social and public judgement is still there, but has changed venue - appearing online everywhere. Thought provoking for sure - what would be your thinking? Was the ending what I expected? No, not quite. But it absolutely fits. Little Deaths is based on the actual case of Alice Crimmins. Little Deaths is another of Entertainment Weekly's Most Anticipated Books of 2017.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was an enjoyable read for me. First, this book has an overwhelming "Chicago" (the musical or movie) feel to me from the start. I really liked the picture and setting the author chose. The story takes place in Queens and since I grew up in Queens it was fun reading about all the places that I had been familiar with. However the vibe is of a different time, not the present and I thought the author did a great job of world building for times gone by. This is a story of children that are abducted and how perceptions or appearances can influence your opinions. When I was reading the part about the children and how they were murdered and found it was absolutely heartbreaking. I could feel the hopelessness and heartache of the Mom. In fact it was difficult to read those parts, being a Mom. However I will interject here that this is not really a typical thriller/murder mystery. This is more a story of how certain things that society deems appropriate or not appropriate sway our opinions of people or situations. I think it was an important book to help the reader think, ' am I forming an opinion based on the fact or the perceptions that I am seeing'? This is a major problem in today's society and with media sensation, so I think it was very appropriate reading. The only problem I had with the book was that it was not the typical thriller that I was expecting it to be. It didn't really give you the "who done it" vibe, that was really just a secondary plot point. Overall it was a good book and I'm happy to have read it and will try more books by Emma Flint.