Turnbull is a working-class town full of weary people who struggle to make ends meet. Evictions, alcoholism, and random violence are commonplace. In the heat of July 1983, when eight-year-olds James Illworth, Dallas Darwin, and Felix Cassidy leave their homes to play in the woods, they have to navigate between the potentially violent world of angry adults and even angrier teens. Little do they know that within a few short hours, one of them will lay dead, after a bit of playful bullying from older teens escalates to tragedy.
Loosely based on a real crime that took place on Long Island in 1979, Little Beasts is a panorama of a poor, mostly white neighborhood surrounded by the affluent communities of the East End. After the murder, the novel's main characters must come to grips with the aftermath, face down the decisions they've made, and reestablish their faith in the possibility of a better world.