“Little Deaths” by Emma Flint

Quick Statistics

  • “Little Deaths” by Emma Flint
  • Mystery Thriller
  • Read as a physical copy thanks to the publishers providing a free review copy for an honest review.
  • 3/5 stars
  • Finished February 2, 2017

Official Synopsis

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.

My Thoughts/Summary

This book actually was the first book I used as a #commuteread on Litsy when I started my new job, so I think it will forever hold a place in my heart. However, this book wasn’t anything super special. The book follows Ruth Malone, while we try to figure out whether or not she killed her kids. In my opinion, it’s pretty obvious she didn’t, and that someone else was behind all of it. The ending did surprise me, and I didn’t hate reading this book! In fact, I enjoyed the slower pace of it in comparison to other thrillers. In fact, it was a perfect commute read in that it sucked me in when I was reading it, but I wasn’t missing it throughout the day.

One thing I didn’t really enjoy about this book was the Pete Wonicke storyline. It didn’t really serve a purpose except to give us a bit of a broader view of who the main character was, and it kind of irks me when characters feel created just for exposition purposes. I wasn’t a huge fan of how obsessed he was with Ruth, and multiple times it made me really uncomfortable.

Overall, this book isn’t terrible, it’s an easy read that is quick to get through, and hits on a lot of points regarding sexism in the 60’s, especially views on motherhood. I am so grateful to have received an ARC of this book, and really enjoyed my time reading it!

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