The Picador Book Club: Little Deaths by Emma Flint

03 January 2017

This month we're reading Emma Flint's gripping debut crime novel, Little Deaths

'A lightning fast, heart-pounding, psychologically resonant crime novel that effortlessly transcends genre.' – Jeffrey Deaver

It's the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. 

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. Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive - is she really capable of murder?

A gripping debut about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all.

>>>Find out more

Watch Emma reading from Little Deaths

If you and your book group have read Emma Flint's Little Deaths and are looking for some questions to kick off your discussion, we've got just what you need.

1. How would you describe the sense of place in Little Deaths and how does the novel present the world of 1960s New York?

2. What were your first impressions of Ruth, and how did your opinion of her evolve throughout the book? Did you like her? How much did you sympathise with her?

3. To what extent did you feel Ruth was in control of her life? What pressures did you feel she was under from the other characters and – as a woman, and as a mother – from society as a whole?

4. What did you make of Pete Wonicke and his obsession with Ruth? How did you feel his version of events differed from the role played by the wider media?

5. Ruth struggles in her relationship with her mother and the other women in her neighbourhood. What did you think about the relationships between the various female characters?

6. What did you think about the portrayal of Devlin and the police force? Do you feel the case was investigated fairly or unfairly, and why?

7. The novel explores love in many forms, from parental to romantic to obsessive. How far did you feel the characters and their actions were affected by love?

8. Little Deaths is set in the 1960s, so news and gossip play out person to person and in the newspapers. How different do you think this would be today, with social media and 24-hour news coverage?

9. How much did you feel that Ruth was trapped by her social circumstances or the era in which she lived? Did her story feel of its time, or could you see parallels with more recent cases?

10. Were you surprised by the ending? Did you feel that Little Deaths was ultimately a tragedy, or did you find some hope and redemption in its final pages?