W LIT­TLE DEATHS

Crime Scene - - POST MORTEM - By MATT GLASBY BY EMMA FLINT

hile poor writ­ing trips over its own feet and good writ­ing moves nim­bly, great writ­ing trav­els. New­castle­born Emma Flint has suc­cess­fully con­jured the hu­mid drear of 1960s New York in her heart­sick de­but novel.

The tale of Ruth Malone, a sin­gle mother whose two young chil­dren go miss­ing, Lit­tle Deaths dances back and forth in time, with every mo­ment since Ruth’s first aw­ful re­al­i­sa­tion of her loss dis­ap­pear­ing into an end­less, af­ter-shocked now. This is less a who­dunit than a howl of out­rage at how women are put on trial for what they are, rather than their ac­tions, and Lit­tle Deaths is par­tic­u­larly good at get­ting un­der Ruth’s itch­ing skin.

A brit­tle, bird-like lady with more ad­mir­ers than com­mon de­cency de­crees, Ruth wraps her­self in self-dis­gust to “keep the wrong part of her, the messy part, hid­den” – the Lit­tle Deaths of the ti­tle also re­fer­ring, it seems, to her con­stant self­mor­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Much more con­ven­tional, and less com­pelling, is a sub­plot fol­low­ing a re­porter, Pete Won­icke, who gets too close to the case and has to shoul­der a lit­tle too much ex­po­si­tion. But this is Ruth Malone’s story and, in the main, the raw­ness of her grief, com­bined with Flint’s lit­er­ary el­e­gance, is of­ten hard to bear.

This is one writer who’s def­i­nitely go­ing places

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