By Sophia Whitfield
Although Little Deaths is a work of fiction, it is inspired by the case of Alice Crimmins. Set in Queens, New York during a heatwave in 1965, Little Deaths is a gripping tale of one woman’s trial, not just by a jury but also by the public. Their judgment clouds the general opinion of young mother Ruth Malone.
In a small apartment in Queen’s Ruth Malone wakes to find her two young children missing and a bedroom window open. Separated from her husband and going through a custody battle Ruth puts all her animosity towards Frank aside, and calls him for help. Together they call the police who begin an investigation into their children’s disappearance.
A few days later the bodies of the two children are discovered. But Ruth does not appear to the public to be a grieving mother. She continues to dress provocatively and wear makeup even when interviewed by the police. The neighbours begin to gossip about the single mother who was known to have men visiting her apartment. When bottles of alcohol are discovered in her bins the police jump to conclusions and begin building a case against Ruth Malone.
Ruth has one person on her side. Pete Wonicke is a newspaper reporter and has been given his first major assignment – the Ruth Malone case. Initially he sides with the police but as he carries out more interviews he begins to see a different, darker side to the case. He becomes infatuated by Ruth Malone and determined to help prove her innocence. But he is up against other reporters who are quick to condemn Ruth. She has become a tabloid celebrity.
Flint’s debut novel is gripping. Her raw description of the way a community gossip judging a young mother for her lifestyle is horribly believable.
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