Set in 1965, New York, one morning Ruth Malone wakes to find that her two young children have gone missing. It is every mother’s worst nightmare, that is just about to get worse. Her children are soon found murdered, and attention quickly turns to Ruth herself. To the police she isn’t acting like a grieving mother. She doesn’t cry, is always perfectly well made up. Then there is her clothing, which is too provacative. There is the fact she is estranged from the children’s father. Then there are the empty liqour bottles and the love letters from men who are not her husband. Although there is little hard evidence, the police are sure she is the murderer and they are determined to catch her out and convict her. But Pete Wonicke, a tabloid reporter, is on his first major assignment, and as he digs deeper into the case, he becomes convinced of her innocence, but he also becomes drawn to her tragic beauty, like many other men around her.
This is a story about a woman who doesn’t like herself and who is judged for the way she looks. It’s also a story of obsession, and as you read further into this novel you see the lengths that the men Ruth encounters will go to, to help her, or to bring her down. This is a exceptionally well-written book, and while it is dark, and the tone and content get darker still as the novel progresses, Ruth’s character is utterly believable as a woman of the times who doesn’t fit in and is miserable because of it, looking to find her happiness in all the wrong places. This novel is a searing, heart-breaking tragedy, and the ending will leave you stunned.