Over 50 years ago in 1965, Alice Crimmins’s children disappeared and died, Alice the prime suspect. What happened next is a spoiler for Emma Flint’s debut novel, but irrespective of whether you’re familiar with the Alice Crimmins case or not Little Deaths is a haunting and suspenseful literary thriller that I highly recommend.
It’s not Alice Crimmins in Little Deaths but Ruth Malone whose children, Cindy and Frankie Jr, disappear; Cindy’s body is found strangled that same day and Frankie Jr’s body is discovered ten days later. The evidence against Ruth is circumstantial, but it’s the roles played by a staunch Catholic detective whose disapproval of Ruth is palpable from the very beginning and a reporter looking for his big break play that determine Ruth’s guilt or innocence.
Flint does a brilliant job of recreating the time and place of New York in the 1960s and while the story does stall in stages, my desire to understand Ruth kept the pages turning. Flint is an excellent writer and I’m already anticipating her second novel – another historical true crime set in Southern England in the 1920s.