Little Deaths by Emma Flint
Publisher: Pan Mcmillan/Hachette Books (January 2017)
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of Little Deaths by Emma Flint was provided by Hachette Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest unbiased review.
It's the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.
Noting Ruth's perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation.
Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can't help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.
Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive - is she really capable of murder?
Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths is a gripping novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all.
Well, I wasn't expecting that !
I thought I was in for just 'another psychological domestic thriller' in Emma Flint's debut novel 'Little Deaths', but I was pleasantly surprised. 'Little Deaths' is a well written, compelling, literary crime novel with a classic crime noir influence.
Set in Queens, New York during the stifling hot Summer of 1965, Ruth Malone, a single mother wakes one morning to find that both of her children have gone missing. Ruth is not the conventional mother or wife (of the times) and at her instigation she has been separated from her husband Frank for the past year. Her priorities also appear a little skewed especially her obsession with her appearance purely to make her attractive and desirable to men.
Frankie Jr's and Cindy's bodies are soon found and in light of a conversation with her lawyer ending with, ‘He can’t have the kids. He can’t have them. I’d rather see them dead than with Frank’, Ruth becomes the prime suspect.
Ruth is not an easy character to like and I found myself judging her, (and boy is she easy to judge), for not behaving in a manor deemed appropriate for a caring mother, or for her lack of emotion as a grieving mother. As a result i wondered if she could indeed be guilty of murder in order to live the glamorous lifestyle she craved. I did warm to her somewhat during the course of the book as her narrative gives a privileged insight to her thought processes. I still didn't agree with her choices or actions, but I did gain an understanding of why she behaved as she did.
Emma Flint has written a thought provoking story based on the '60's real case of Alice Cribbins, and she has kept pretty close to the original facts in this reimagined account albeit with a neat resolution which I found a bit contrived, and coming from nowhere. However I do appreciate that for some readers a finality to a plot is preferred, which is more than can be said for the real case.
Gripping, intensely upsetting in parts, 'Little Deaths' is an impressive debut novel and perfect for fans of Megan Abbott.
I absolutely loved it.