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Little Deaths: A Novel
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Hachette Books 2017
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Description
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.
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Street Date:
01/17/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780316272513, 9780316272490
ASIN:
B01F1UD51O
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Emma Flint. (2017). Little Deaths: A Novel. Hachette Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Emma Flint. 2017. Little Deaths: A Novel. Hachette Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Emma Flint, Little Deaths: A Novel. Hachette Books, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Emma Flint. Little Deaths: A Novel. Hachette Books, 2017.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Emma Flint was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England. She studied English and History at the University of St Andrews and is a graduate of the Faber Academy writing program in London. Since her childhood, Flint has read true-crime accounts, developing an encyclopedic knowledge of real-life murder cases and of notorious historical figures, as well as a fascination with unorthodox women—past, present and fictional. Flints works as a technical writer in London, where she lives. Little Deaths is her first novel.
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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.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Maureen Corrigan, Washington Post
      • content: Gripping.... Flint...nails with authority the voices, commonplace wisdom, and dusty claustrophobia of the borough. Just as important, Flint captures the mundane yet mythic horror of the case that has memorialized it in the annals of New York City crime.... Flint is scrupulous about centering this moody thriller in the facts, yet giving them a deeper psychological spin.
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly (starred review)
      • content: Affecting, achingly beautiful debut...This stunning novel is less about whodunit than deeper social issues of motherhood, morals, and the kind of rush to judgment that can condemn someone long before the accused sees the inside of a courtroom.
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist (starred review)
      • content: Compelling ... the closing scene is a jaw-dropper.... This is absolutely absorbing literary crime fiction, perfect for fans of Megan Abbott and Sarah Waters.
      • premium: False
      • source: Library Journal (starred review)
      • content: This accomplished debut novel will intrigue fans of both true crime and noir fiction. Flint...is a welcome addition to the world of literary crime fiction. Readers of Megan Abbott may want to investigate.
      • premium: False
      • source: Jeffery Deaver
      • content: 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.
      • premium: False
      • source: Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl
      • content: Emma Flint's Little Deaths beguiles readers with a most harrowing crime: two children dead, their mother, Ruth, the likely suspect. Readers will as easily pity Ruth as doubt and denounce her, as Flint seduces us with a gem of a whodunit, making us question our every instinct. Deeply moody and moving, Little Deaths embodies the role of women in the sixties, especially those who dared to deviate from societal norms.
      • premium: False
      • source: Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me
      • content: 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.
      • premium: False
      • source: Chris Bohjalian, New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room, The Sandcastle Girls, and Midwives
      • content: Little Deaths is a rarity: a period piece and police procedural that is wrenching and real and deeply moving. I fell fast and hard under the spell of this lush, moody, film noir of a novel.
      • premium: False
      • source: Beth Harbison, New York Times bestselling author of One Less Problem Without You
      • content: An absolutely gripping debut! Emma Flint spins a lyrical tale of horror and suspense in the vivid and thick atmosphere of 1965 Queens. Even after I finished, the story would not leave me. I cannot wait to read more from this talented author.
      • premium: False
      • source: Emma Chapman, author of How To Be a Good Wife
      • content: I couldn't put it down.... So utterly satisfying, intriguing, and brilliant that everything else falls short. I can't wait for Emma Flint's next book.
      • premium: False
      • source: Erin Kelly, author of The Poison Tree
      • content: Gripping and shattering. Ruth's story will stay with me for the rest of my life.
      • premium: False
      • source: Jane Casey, author of The Missing
      • content: Little Deaths is 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.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Bookseller (UK)
      • content: I read this with a dry mouth and a pounding heart—and can think of no higher praise for a literary crime novel.
      • premium: False
      • source: Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat
      • content: A gripping read that is at the same time deeply real. A beautifully written and realized debut. I absolutely loved it.
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: Sharply rendered literary noir.
      • premium: False
      • source: Harper's Bazaar
      • content: This thrilling suspense story will make you question your loyalties at every turn.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Express (UK)
      • content: Wonderfully atmospheric.... Simmering with tension, Little Deaths is a stylish, troubling look at how appearances can deceive.
      • premium: False
      • source: Sophie Hannah, author of Woman with a Secret
      • content: Involving and atmospheric, and immensely gripping.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Times (UK)
      • content: [An] excellent debut...Flint is unsparing and convincing in her portrayal of Malone, a woman of little education and flawed habits, fighting a society that believes she could not be a good mother.
      • premium: False
      • source: Entertainment Weekly
      • content: As a character study, [Little Deaths is] a killer.
      • premium: False
      • source: Associated Press
      • content: Mesmerizing.... Flint captures the loneliness, struggles, and ennui of the residents of working-class Queens in the mid-1960s, especially the women who, for the most part, are stay-at-home moms.... Flint...turns Little Deaths into a poignant look at a woman fighting...
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from October 10, 2016
        One of New York City’s classic tabloid crime cases—cocktail waitress Alice Crimmins’s controversial conviction for the 1965 murders of her two young children—becomes the springboard for British author Flint’s affecting, achingly beautiful debut. That Ruth Malone, a separated single mom, leads an active sex life, including trysting with married men while her five-year-old Frankie Jr. and four-year-old Cindy remain home alone, locked in their bedroom, makes her the only suspect police seriously look into after her estranged husband reports the youngsters missing. And yet the deeper that fledgling crime reporter Pete Wonicke digs into the story, the more he becomes convinced that while Ruth may be guilty of many things, killing her kids isn’t among them. Eschewing easy answers or Perry Mason miracles, Flint focuses squarely on Ruth’s stiflingly straitened life in working-class Queens, close enough to gaze at the bewitching lights of Manhattan yet distant enough to feel marooned in another galaxy. This stunning novel is less about whodunit than deeper social issues of motherhood, morals, and the kind of rush to judgment that can condemn someone long before the accused sees the inside of a courtroom. Agent: Jo Unwin, Jo Unwin Literary Agency (U.K.).

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        January 15, 2017
        One hot summer in New York, 1965, a sexy, troubled cocktail waitress is suspected of murdering her children.Flint's debut novel begins in a prison cell, where Ruth Malone struggles to awaken from a dream of her old apartment building in Queens--putting on her makeup in the bathroom, smoking her first cigarette of the day, "the blast of Gina's radio overhead, Tony Bonelli's heavy tread on the stairs....Nina Lombardo yelling at her kids next door." This is where it happened, where one morning in July she unlatched her children's bedroom door to find them gone. Cindy and Frankie, ages 4 and 5, not in bed with a storybook, not snuggled together under their blue blanket, but disappeared. Within days their bodies are found in a dump and a nearby woods, strangled, decomposed. Having heard the story from Ruth's point of view, the reader is assured of her innocence, though a self-righteous belief in her guilt is shared by many of her neighbors, the media, and, most importantly, the lead detective on the case, who is absolutely determined to "crack that whore." She is believed to be a bad mother, a woman who goes to too many bars, sees too many men, drinks too much booze, a woman who has recently dumped her husband even though he was ready to forgive her for cheating on him. Her only significant ally is a young newspaperman who at first sees the case as the key to launching his career but becomes so obsessed that he quits the paper to try to prove Ruth's innocence. Since we know where it begins, it seems we know how it must turn out--but there are a few surprises left. Sharply rendered literary noir, compelling enough to forgive a slightly left-field resolution.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from October 1, 2016
        Although no formal acknowledgement is made in the text, this compelling crime-fiction debut is clearly based on the Alice Crimmins case. The Medea of Kew Gardens Hills was convicted and served a prison sentence for the 1965 deaths of her children in New York City. Same place, same time: a Queens neighborhood close enough to the World's Fair to hear the drone. Ruth Malone, a single mother working as a cocktail waitress, awakens one morning to discover that her two small children are gone. Later that day, her daughter's body is found in an abandoned lot nearby, and, 10 days after that, her son's badly decomposed body is found not far from the fairgrounds. Ruth becomes the prime suspect. The police have decided she is a bad mother who wanted to get rid of her kids, and she is portrayed as a promiscuous femme fatale in the press. She is eventually convicted, and the reader shares the desolation of her prison stay and learns along with her the chilling truth about the murders. The closing scene is a jaw-dropper, reminiscent of Minette Walters' classic The Sculptress (1993). This is absolutely absorbing literary crime fiction, perfect for fans of Megan Abbott and Sarah Waters. Look forward to more from the gifted Flint, who has revealed in interviews that she has been a reader of true crime since childhood.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 1, 2016

        In 1965 working-class Queens, NY, two children go missing and are later found strangled not far from home. The police immediately suspect their mother, Ruth Malone, single and working long hours as a cocktail waitress, whose tiny skirts and penchant for bourbon scream "bad mom." Newbie tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke hopes to make his name by covering the case, but the more he digs, the more he doubts what he's being told. A BookExpo America buzz book, this debut psychological thriller was a huge hit at both BEA and ALA.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from November 1, 2016

        Alluring Ruth Malone lives an unconventional life for a single mother with two young children. In her tiny apartment in 1965 Queens, NY, heavy smoking and hard liquor abound, and her ex-husband is concerned about her succession of lovers. With her short skirts and low necklines, Ruth, a striking cocktail waitress, doesn't present well in the court of public opinion. When her children go missing and are found dead, detectives believe Ruth committed this horrific crime. Only a rookie reporter is convinced that the cops might be on the wrong track. A harsh, overbearing detective builds the case against Ruth, and tension painfully saturates the investigation as inflammatory evidence slowly comes to light. When the story reaches its quiet yet stunning denouement, this strangely sympathetic heroine will earn reluctant readers' respect. Inspired by true events, Flint explores how people respond to extreme circumstances and how quick observers can be to judge. VERDICT This accomplished debut novel will intrigue fans of both true crime and noir fiction. Flint, a technical writer in London, is a welcome addition to the world of literary crime fiction. Readers of Megan Abbott may want to investigate. [See Prepub Alert, 7/11/16.]--Gloria Drake, Oswego P.L. Dist., IL

        Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 1, 2016

        Alluring Ruth Malone lives an unconventional life for a single mother with two young children. In her tiny apartment in 1965 Queens, NY, heavy smoking and hard liquor abound, and her ex-husband is concerned about her succession of lovers. With her short skirts and low necklines, Ruth, a striking cocktail waitress, doesn't present well in the court of public opinion. When her children go missing and are found dead, detectives believe Ruth committed this horrific crime. Only a rookie reporter is convinced that the cops might be on the wrong track. A harsh, overbearing detective builds the case against Ruth, and tension painfully saturates the investigation as inflammatory evidence slowly comes to light. When the story reaches its quiet yet stunning denouement, this strangely sympathetic heroine will earn reluctant readers' respect. Inspired by true events, Flint explores how people respond to extreme circumstances and how quick observers can be to judge. VERDICT This accomplished debut novel will intrigue fans of both true crime and noir fiction. Flint, a technical writer in London, is a welcome addition to the world of literary crime fiction. Readers of Megan Abbott may want to investigate. [See Prepub Alert, 7/11/16.]--Gloria Drake, Oswego P.L. Dist., IL

        Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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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...
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