Author(s): Emma Flint
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 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.
It's every mother's worst nightmare. But Ruth Malone is not like other mothers ...
Long-listed for Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2017.
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 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 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 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 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
Emma Flint grew up in Newcastle and graduated from the University of St Andrews with an MA in English Language and Literature. She later completed a novel-writing course at the Faber Academy. Since childhood, she has read true-crime stories, developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of real-life murder cases. She lives in London.