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  • Location: New York

Little Deaths

Little Deaths

Why a Booktrail?

1965: A missing child and an enduring mystery..

  • ISBN: 978-1509826575
  • Genre: Crime, Fiction, Non-Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

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.

The detectives arrive but quickly  leap to conclusions. Ruth Malone is wearing make up and “provocative” clothing, and her apartment is a bit of a mess. Add to that the neighbourhood gossip and speculation. Tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke goes to cover the case on his first assignment and he too is quick to think this is an open and shut case. However, 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 – is she really capable of murder?

Travel Guide

New York

This novel is inspired by a true story that of Alice Crimmins who is said to have murdered both her children. Read the Queens Chronicle article here

The Queens here is a suffocating neighborhood in the 1960s. Everyone lives on top of everyone else and everyone knows your business. You can’t do anything without someone knowing so when two children go missing from their home, the community such as it is, feels even smaller than normal.

Names of those involved have been changed but the essential facts of the story are the same: the real Ruth woke up one morning in the summer of 1965 to find her two young children missing from their apartment in Queens. Her four year-old daughter was found dead that afternoon and the body of her five year-old son was discovered a week later.

The events  and the timeline between the murders and Ruth’s arrest have been condensed into four months in the novel; in reality, the case lasted for more than two years as two grand juries failed to indict her for murder. It was in November 1966,however when the case really changed when one of Ruth’s neighbours sent an anonymous note to the prosecutor’s office, saying she had witnessed relevant events on the night of the children’s disappearance. She was interviewed by the police and her story is similar to that which Lena Gobek gives in Little Deaths.

Streetview Maps

A) New York - Murder Scene
C) NYC - Queens County Court

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

I am always fascinated about a novel based on real events. Real historical events. You know somethings are going to be changed and adapted for the purpose of fiction but there’s stillthe gruesome thrill of getting as close to the action, the inner thoughts of those involved, as you possibly can.

When it’s the murder of two young children, it’s going to be a difficult case to be involved with however. This was one of them as well as the heat and the humidity of Queens in July, the fuzz which builds with Ruth’s choppy inner dialogue,the whispers of the neighbours, the hushed tones of the police builds a pace.

Ruth was a tricky character to work out. She is frazzled with life, a bad husband and bringing up two children in chaos. She is lonely and lost in life. She drinks and staggers through life and it would be easy to judge her as the police and everyone else does. If this was a modern day story, this woman would be on a certain talk show with a  baying audience and cries of words not suitable on daytime telly. But when people shout, is anyone really heard? The crowd mentality kicks in and all the while Ruth can only stand there and sink deeper still.

There was a lot of judgement evident in the novel – Ruth herself judges her figure and lifestyle. In a case reminiscent of others in the media in recent years, she doesn’t behave how people expect a mother of missing children to behave.

So this novel was two things to me – a study of a woman at the centre of a ferocious media storm and a mirror on society today. The historical link made it even more interesting and I went straight to read about Alice Crimmins after reading this novel.


Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:  Little Deaths

Author/Guide: Emma Flint Destination: New York Departure Time: 1965

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