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Little Deaths

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  7,591 ratings  ·  994 reviews
"A phenomenal achievement."---Jeffery Deaver

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. T
Paperback, 311 pages
Published 2017 by Picador
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Kelly Brown Devlin knew he lied. He even took the hit for mishandling evidence for the non-existent taped confession. He just wanted to bust the guy so he went wi…moreDevlin knew he lied. He even took the hit for mishandling evidence for the non-existent taped confession. He just wanted to bust the guy so he went with it.(less)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
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Wendy Darling
2.5 stars The first third of this book was so engrossing. A woman is accused of murdering her two children--but Ruth is not your typical mother, and she will not garner the usual sympathy, because she's always perfectly made up and she drinks in excess and she takes a lot of lovers and she's--gasp--a cocktail waitress. I was interested in this portrait of a woman who is judged so harshly by her outward appearance; for some women, careful clothes and makeup are armor used to mask what's going on ...more
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

It is 1965 in Queens, New York and Ruth Malone - single mother, cocktail waitress, and purveyor of sexual pleasures - discovers that her two small children have gone missing from her apartment. Swayed by neighborhood gossip, the discovery of letters from various men found in Ruth's apartment, and a large bag of empty liquor bottles discovered in her trash can, Sergeant Devlin immediately assumes she's guilty
Diane S ☔
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor
3.5 Ruth Malone wakes up one morning and finds her two young children gone, their bedroom door hooked from the outside. Did this woman, separated from her husband, get rid of her children? The detective on the case is positive she is guilty. After all there were all those liquor bottles found in her department, most of her neighbors believe she is guilty, her lack of tears is enough proof.

A young woman judged guilty because of her lifestyle, her demeanor, her attention to her own grooming, her v
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is 1965 and a sweltering summer in Queens, New York. Ruth Malone is a young mother to five year old Frankie and four year old Cindy. Recently separated from her husband, also called Frankie, Ruth raises eyebrows in her neighbourhood. Unlike the other mothers, who stand around the stoops gossiping in drab housedresses, Ruth is always well put together. The clack of her heels is a familiar sound. She laughs too loudly, drinks too much and is a little too fond of male company.

Ruth is tired of h
Liz Barnsley
For me, Little Deaths was a marvel of a novel. Poignant, thought provoking, beautifully written and engaging, also randomly rage inducing – I went through a spectrum of emotions reading Ruth’s story and at the end I was wrung out.

Also, warning: Will cause google mania as you look up the case that Emma Flint took her inspiration from. That is also extraordinarily fascinating. I have today purchased her recommended book on the subject.

Little Deaths starts with a tragedy – two missing children. I d
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-arcs
All of my reviews can be found on

This book caught my eye immediately for several reasons. First, the cover is so striking in its simplicity, then the blurb is intriguing, I love that it takes place in the sixties, it’s one of my favorite eras. After I received my copy I discovered that the author was inspired by a real case and that was just the icing on the cake for me. I haven’t read a true crime novel for quite some time, but the idea of reading a book with truthful elemen
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Ruth: mother of two missing children, drinker, whore.

She is not the usual picture of grief, instead composed in the day, let loose at night. Unlikeable. Gossip worthy. People think she did it, especially Detective Devlin, desperate to convict her despite the lack of evidence. But is she guilty of murder? Or guilty of failing to live up to the male standard of female behaviour in 1965 New York? She's too free, too sexual, too alien to these men unless she performs her role as mother or slut. Eve
Peter Boyle
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
This story felt very familiar to me. Maybe it's because it is the tenth work of fiction inspired by the infamous Alice Crimmins case. Or maybe it's the fact that every character was a cliché, every twist seemed telegraphed. I just felt like I'd read it all before.

Ruth Malone is a struggling cocktail waitress in 1960s Queens, recently estranged from her husband Frank. One sweltering July night, her two children go missing from their beds. And when their battered bodies are found a few days later,
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: motley-list-13
A difficult read in terms of the subject matter. The murder of two young children isn't always going to be an uplifting read. However, when the matter is treated with care and an original eye a fictional account can helps us see our humanity and the frailties of life.
Ruth Malone is struggling in her relationship with the children's father so lives as a single mother, working long hours as a cocktail waitress to meet the needs of the household. Ruth is a woman first and therefore in her presentat
I read this in one stretch, which I think was the best way for me to read it, not because I couldn't put it down, but because I could easily have lost interest if I hadn't committed to consuming it in a single gulp.

A much-hyped debut for 2017, Little Deaths opens on a woman in prison, and then tells us how she got there. Ruth Malone is a cocktail waitress who lives with her young children, Frankie and Cindy. One day, Ruth goes to check on her kids and discovers they are not in their bedroom; soo
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
You read this and all of my reviews at Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine

I was so excited to begin this this book. I knew that it was based on a true story story but it was one I was unfamiliar with. I made the conscious decision not to do any research on the case prior to reading this fictionalized version.

As you can probably tell from my rating, I had several problems with the book. The first is that it was really quite boring. It just dragged on until the very last chapters. There were several points at which
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ☮Karen by: Diane S ☔
Shelves: read-in-2016
The story is a heartbreaking one. A single mother of two wakes up to find her kids are gone and no clue what happened to them, that is until both turn up dead at different times. Ruth has had so many men in her life and has been drinking so much, it's possible she can't think clearly and can't trust anyone. She is thought guilty based on her attractive appearance, her aloofness to other housewives, her occupation as a cocktail waitress, her reputation for bringing men home. Poor example of a mot ...more
Britta Böhler
Maybe may expectations were wrong, but the story never really convinced me. Bits and pieces were good, especially those about how we perceive others, but - for me - the book lacked suspense (and at times, a good editor...).
Purple Country Girl (Sandy)

I won a copy of Little Deaths in a Goodreads Giveaway.

In the summer of 1965, Ruth Malone’s two young children disappear from her apartment in Queens. Ruth and her husband, Frank, are separated and in the middle of a nasty custody battle for the children, Cindy and Frank, Jr. The police, a rather chauvinistic and narrow-minded lot, almost immediately suspect Ruth has either stashed the children somewhere to get back at her husband - or worse, she has killed them. Their suspicions increase when th
Slow-burning thriller set in QUEENS, New York

Lists of up-coming books to watch our for in 2017 have been buzzing about Little Deaths, so I was keen to see if the book lives up to the hype. It does, it is a fascinating debut.

The setting for this novel is Queens, New York in the mid 1960s. It is July, hot and sweltering, the locals are edgy. The murder of two young children, Frankie Junior and Cindy, stirs the community into a frenzy.

Ruth – mother to the two murdered children – has separated from
Kate O'Leary
Feb 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has spoilers and inappropriate language.

Little Deaths was absolutely fucking terrible. From the start, you're supposed to care about these characters so let me break them down for you. Ruth, the mother, who is painted as a disinterested woman who spends more time on her appearance than giving a shit about her dead kids. I think the writer is trying to make it out so the readers and the other characters 'just don't understand' her grieving process, but to me she actually seriously do
Lukas Anthony
Skin deep.

Let the jumble of thoughts commence;

I had high expectations when it came to Emma Flint's debut Little Death's. The story about a mother being a suspect in her children's murders is obviously rife with dramatic potential, and I feel in the hands of a different author this could have been great. What it should have been was a character study focusing on the mother's emotions and state of mind, yet the author falls into the trappings of making it a mystery, complete with a big reveal tha
Roman Clodia
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although this has the backbone of a familiar crime plot (the murder of two young children), Flint isn't so much interested in the mystery of whodunnit as in the way in which the police 'know' that it's Ruth, the young mother, who's guilty simply because she drinks, has separated from her husband and has other lovers. The ingrained misogyny and cultural stereotypes of the 'bad' woman are what's really on trial here - sadly views which haven't completely dispersed since the 1965 setting of the boo ...more
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Little Deaths
Emma Flint

What it's all about...

Ruth is separated from her husband, Frank. She has two little children...Cindy and Frankie. One morning Ruth wakes up and they are gone. She becomes the main suspect for their disappearance.

Why I wanted to read it...

This book is loosely based on an actual crime that took place in Queens in the sixties. Ruth is different...perhaps a bit loose, a bit wanton and a bit openly sexual. The police choose her as the perpetrator almost immediately.

What mad
Book Riot Community
It’s 1965, and Ruth Malone is a single mother in Queens, working as a cocktail waitress to support herself and her young son and daughter. But when her children go missing in the night, the police do not focus their investigation on who took the kids but on Ruth herself. Ruth’s pleas for the cops to find who took her children go largely ignored as the detectives instead ask the pretty redhead about her boyfriends and her late-night drinking, because the police think Ruth did it for attention. Ba ...more
Carol Jean
Interesting, but...I don't know. It raised so many questions in my mind that I actually went on to read about the actual case. For instance, this woman got out a LOT. In reality, she had a live-in housekeeper, which resolved so many issues raised by the fictional account! ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was good. Had me going until the end.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I didn't DNF this, but I did skim through the second half til the end because no matter how much I wanted to, I just couldn't get into reading it. Which is kind of sad, because this was one of my most anticipated releases for 2017 and I was so sure I'd love it.

What kept me from losing myself in the book was that the story itself was actually kind of boring. I don't mean to say that the notion of young children going missing/being murdered is boring; I just mean that a story with such subject mat
Linda Lipko
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hold on to every page as you read this sad story based on a true- life case of a woman named Alice Crimmins, who lived in a New York Queens neighborhood. She is a woman whose two children disappear mysteriously on an incredibly hot, hot summer evening. She had locked them in the bedroom, as she usually did. How then, did they disappear. She knows she did not murder her four year old daughter and her five year old son. Who got in the apartment, and how did they know she was walking the dog?

Emma F
Luanne Ollivier
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Little Deaths is Emma Flint's latest novel.

Flint professes that "Since childhood, she has been drawn to true crime stories, developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of real-life murder cases. She is equally fascinated by notorious historical figures and by unorthodox women – past, present and fictional."

Those interests are put to good use in Little Deaths. The novel is a fascinating blend of literary mystery, character study and social commentary.

Set in 1960's blue collar New York. Ruth Malone is a
Ruth Malone is a beautiful young mother to two angelic children, Frankie and Cindy. Ruth is separated from her husband Frank with whom she is in the middle of a bitter custody battle over their children. Waking up one morning to find both her children missing Ruth frantically rings Frank who contacts the police, and a search begins.

Pete Wonicke is a young tabloid reporter who becomes fascinated with the story of the missing children, and even more fascinated by Ruth herself. He is hypnotized by
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-crime-2017
Little Deaths is one of those books that will make you rant a bit at the world and hold you enthralled from the first page!

This could easily be about 2017, about prejudice and discrimination. The book is actually set in 1965 Queens, New York; a working class neighbourhood. Ruth Malone is imprisoned for the murder of her two young children. Her children went missing from her appartment and were later found strangled. Is she guilty? Is she innocent? What happened to them?

Malone is a truly fascinat
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I finished this book a week or so ago and have been mulling over what to say about it because it is a difficult story to like and yet it's really interesting in terms of people's expectations and prejudices. This is not a traditional crime novel even though all the hallmarks are there - it is much more concerned with the public perceptions of Ruth and not what 'really' happened.

Set in the summer of 1965 in New York, Ruth Malone is the mother of two children but also a woman who is seperated from
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
based on a true life crime in 1960's america. located in mid 1960's new york 2 children frankie jr and cindy go missing but are found murdered and all the gossip is that the mother Ruth has done it, as she is an alcoholic, dates many men.
the novel itself to me is a page turner as it progresses from the disappearance to the court case but had to admit the sting in the tail was unexpected at the end.
May 04, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating story about a woman who is different, likes to drink and have sex. Who wants more than what 1965 gender norms could give her. Did she kill her kids because she is a terrible mom? Is she being unfairly persecuted because she is confident? What happens to a woman when she wants something more and something different than what society says she gets?

Oh, shit. No, wait. This isn't that book. This book is actually the story of that woman through the view of a man who is obsessed with he
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Fiction Fanatics: October 2020 - Little Deaths 1 7 Oct 02, 2020 11:48PM  
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Forsyth County Pu...: October 2017 - LIttle Deaths 2 8 Nov 16, 2017 01:53PM  
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Play Book Tag: Little Deaths by Emma Flint- 2 Stars 3 16 May 20, 2017 09:32AM  

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Emma Flint grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne in north east 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 childhood, Flint has read reports of real-life crimes, and over the years has developed an encyclopedic knowledge of murder cases and notorious historical figures, as well as a fascination with uncon ...more

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