James Ziskin has been nominated for the Anthony, the Lefty, and the Barry Award for his 1960s upstate New York mystery series featuring investigative reporter, Ellie Stone. The fourth title, Heart of Stone, opens with Ellie summering in the Adirondacks. The local police chief asks Ellie to photograph two men who plummeted to their deaths off Baxter Rock. He deems it a tragic accident but Ellie has her own suspicions. See Sarah’s review below.
Fellow LA author Nadine Nettmann ghost writes weekly and monthly travel articles, as well as articles under her own name. Nadine, a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, is always on the lookout for great wines and the stories behind them, and has visited wine regions around the. Her debut mystery, Decanting a Murder, begins with the discovery of a body in a Napa Valley vineyard.
The fourth installment to this mystery series featuring investigative reporter Ellie Stone may be my favorite yet. Set in 1961 Adirondacks, it opens with the chief of police, Tiny Terwilliger, asking Ellie to take photos of two men who have plummeted to their deaths off Baxter Rock. Their deaths are deemed accidental. Meanwhile, Ellie runs into childhood friends at nearby Arcadia Lodge and is drawn to their nights of wine and music, although she’s drawn to charming Isaac the most. The more she learns about this group of left-wing Jewish intellectuals, the more suspicious she becomes, especially when she discovers one of the dead bodies is a former friend of theirs. Ellie tries not to let her feelings for Isaac cloud her judgment as she wades through long-buried secrets, religious fanatics, and Cold War ideology. This whirlwind romance brings out a softer side to the typically tough protagonist which I found endearing and real. - Sarah
Fifteen-year-old Darleen Hicks slips away from her school bus as it idles in the junior high parking lot, waiting to depart. Moments later the bus rumbles away without her, and she is never seen again. The small upstate town of New Holland, New York, is in the grips of a severe cold snap, when Ellie Stone receives a late-night caller--Irene Metzger, the grieving mother of Darleen Hicks. Irene has read Ellie's stories in the paper on an earlier murder case and believes Ellie is her last hope.
Ellie Stone is a "modern girl," one who drinks whiskey and sometimes ends up in bed with the gentlemen she meets. In love, she plays by her own rules. Working as a reporter, she must overcome the handicap of her sex, work harder than any man, and be twice as smart.
Ellie Stone is sure that Sgt. McKeever meant that as a compliment, but that identity-a girl wanting to do a man's job-has throttled her for too long. It's 1960, and Ellie doesn't want to blaze any trails for women; she just wants to be a reporter, one who doesn't need to swat hands off her behind at every turn.
Adrift in her career, Ellie is back in New York City after receiving news that her estranged father, a renowned Dante scholar and distinguished professor, is near death after a savage bludgeoning in his home. The police suspect a routine burglary, but Ellie has her doubts. When a second attempt is made on her father's life, in the form of an "accident" in the hospital's ICU, Ellie's suspicions are confirmed.
Then another professor turns up dead, and Ellie's investigation turns to her father's university colleagues, their ambitions, jealousies, and secret lives. Ellie embarks on a thorny journey of discovery and reconciliation, as she pursues an investigation that offers her both a chance at redemption in her father's eyes, and the risk of losing him forever.