04 August, 2016

Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin Review!

Book Details

  • Series: Ellie Stone Mysteries
  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Seventh Street Books (June 7, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1633881830
  • ISBN-13: 978-1633881839

In the waning days of a lazy August holiday, Ellie Stone is enjoying a bright Adirondack-lake morning. Nearby, two men plummet to their deaths just a few feet short of the water of a dangerous diving pool. A tragic accident, it seems. But the state police quickly establish that the two victims--one, a stranger to the lake and, the other, a teenaged boy from a nearby music camp--surely didn't know each other. That anomaly is strange enough, but what really perplexes Ellie is the out-of-place station wagon parked twenty yards from the edge of the cliff.

Wading into a slippery morass of fellow travelers, free-love intellectuals, rabid John Birchers, and charismatic evangelicals, Ellie must navigate old grudges and Cold War passions, lost ideals and betrayed loves. She sticks her nose where it's unwanted, rattling nerves and putting herself in jeopardy. But this time, it's her heart that's at risk.

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JWZ in Lucolena, Greve in Chianti, Italy
James Ziskin is the author of the Anthony-, Barry-, and Lefty-nominated Ellie Stone Mysteries. A linguist by training, James studied Romance Languages and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing his graduate degree, he worked in New York as a photo-news producer and writer, and then as Director of NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò. He has since spent fifteen years in the Hollywood post production industry, running large international operations in the subtitling/localization and visual effects fields. His international experience includes two years working and studying in France, extensive time in Italy, and more than three years in India. He speaks Italian and French.
James grew up in Amsterdam, New York. He now lives in the Hollywood Hills with his wife, Lakshmi, and cats Bobbie and Tinker.
My Thoughts
Journalist Eleonora (“Ellie”) Stone is spending some time with her aunt Lena and cousin Max at her aunts Adirondack lake cottage. While on the dock with her aunt who is swimming in the nude, the police chief "Tiny" Terwilliger appears and the first thing he says it "You know that nude bathing is prohibited her on Prospector Lake?" That is how Ellie first gets involved in the deaths of two people, one a man and the other a teenage boy. They have appeared to have jumped from a cliff onto the beach below. Is it an accident? Why the two men together, did they know each other?
The police chief asks Ellie if she would take pictures of the dead men. This is 1961 and no cell phones in sight and even if there were, the police chief seems to be pretty inept. Ellie notices that Tiny has been drinking and is a very unkempt man who also appears to be a bit racist as he makes comments about the 'Jew communists' staying at Arcadia Lodge. A group of families had gotten together to purchase this lodge and they come for their vacations and get together's to talk about art, literature and politics. 
Ellie, over a course of time, comes to spend a lot of time with the people from Arcadia Lodge and falls for one of the men there while investigating the deaths of the two men. Ellie is a free-thinking modern woman who has no trouble with having a summer fling. Is it just a summer fling and can she trust the people that she has become close to? How did these men die and if it was murder, who did it and why?
This book caught me from the first page, fast reading, and believable characters. This is #4 in the Ellie Stone mystery series and in spite of that, I did not have any difficulties at all getting into the story. It really can be read as a stand alone novel. Ellie is a woman who is a go-getter and a persistent journalist. I enjoyed it and hope to read the previous books in the series at some point!
I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

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