Little Deaths is brilliant, everything a reader wants from a thriller. Need me to say more? That’s no problem I will be talking about how great Little Death is all year.
Set in New York in 1965, based on a true story, this is a hugely atmospheric thriller, a classic dark noire where Flint wonderful writing sets the scene magnificently.
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 character but is she really capable of murder? As the story develops you cannot decide whether Ruth killed her children and Flint plays with your mind to think she has but yet you keep thinking would she.
You know from early on that the two children have been murdered and what Flint does brilliantly is keep you guessing throughout the whole book, building up the suspense and keeping you engaged. Ruth is a hugely confused character, wants the dream life of a husband and two children, yet wants the excitement of fun, laughter and men. She married too young to get away from home and now feels trapped. Her husband Frank seems a bit of a waster, no drive, vision and does he really love Ruth. With Pete, the young reporter, he has his hands on the dream and is not opting to be a reporter on the local paper in Iowa but is being driven by his desire to crack a big story and his desire for Ruth.
I loved Emma Flint’s writing style, whether describing the scenes in the apartment where the children were found, the heat of New York or the newspapers reporters room, her writing is dark, atmospheric.
It is a story of two halves and to be honest I enjoyed the second half more, the courtroom scene was well played out and gripping. The story really builds as it goes and you are not disappointed as a reader.
In many ways this is more than a mystery or thriller it’s also a story of lost aspirations, of dreams and what women’s lives were like in the US in the early 60’s.