Little Deaths by Emma Flint ***
‘It’s the summer of 1965, and 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. Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation. Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can’t help but do the same. But 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? Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths is a gripping novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all.’
The premise of Emma Flint’s Little Deaths intrigued me. At first, her prose, with its element of mixed chronology, felt clever, and really helped to set the scene. After a while however, the prose began to repeat itself at points, and there was an entire middle section which I found frankly rather dull and drawn out. The period in which it was set – the mid-1960s in New York – was not very well evoked on the whole. The background itself faded into the background at times, and the story was not well-grounded in Flint’s chosen period. The novel did not feel quite consistent, but as is often the case with a murder mystery or thriller, one really has to get to the end to see who the crime was committed by. In this instance, I guessed the perpetrator incredibly early on, so the whole held no real surprises for me. Little Deaths is a book which I feel had far more potential than was utilised.
The Memory Book by Lara Avery ****
‘Samantha McCoy has it all mapped out. First she’s going to win the national debating championship, then she’s going to move to New York and become a human rights lawyer. But when Sam discovers that a rare disease is going to take away her memory, the future she’d planned so perfectly is derailed before its started. Realising that her life won’t wait to be lived, Sam sets out on a summer of firsts. The first party. The first rebellion. The first friendship. The last love.’
I don’t tend to read YA fiction, but as I am eternally fascinated by memory, the plot of The Memory Book certainly intrigued me. The narrator, Sammie, is intelligent, which definitely helped to keep my interest as I was reading. Neither she, nor her condition, are predictable in the least. Avery’s novel is well structured and effective in its use of multiple voices; it tackles some important issues, and I will be highly recommending it.