Title- Little Deaths
Author- Emma Flint
Published- January 2017
Genre- Crime, literary fiction
Length- 307 pages
Synopsis (Goodreads)- 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?
Review – This book is, in many ways, deeply upsetting, and I don’t just mean because of the dead kids.
This is basically 300+ pages of “slut shaming”, and it’s awful, not the writing, or the book, but that these things really do happen. Even today, men can do basically anything they want and are protected while women can be completely innocent and still have their entire world absolutely destroyed. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s an interesting read.
There are a few bits in this that seem to me to be a little unrealistic, but then I wasn’t alive in the 60s so have no idea how things really were then in relation to these things. I also think a little too much was given away right at the start but the end was still shocking.
The writing was pretty good, it was never confusing even though there was some flipping between characters perspectives within chapters. The pace was reasonable I think. I read some reviews that said it was good at first but then became really slow but I would disagree.
Overall I would recommend this, particularly to men, men often don’t seem to notice the terrible way women are treated in our society so maybe this will open some eyes.