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Friday, July 15, 2016

Heart of Stone: Ellie Stone Mystery By James Ziskin

by Sandra Murphy

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

Ellie Stone is a newspaper reporter, a job she’s well-suited for since she has a need to know that can’t be ignored. She’s on vacation, visiting with older relatives, at her childhood vacation home. Her cabin is separate from theirs but still doesn’t allow for much privacy.

Childhood friends are also visiting nearby, and she takes advantage of their invitation to join them for an evening of music and talk. She’s able to reconnect with Isaac who is now a math teacher with a magnetic personality that he uses to talk her into spending the night at his cabin.

An early morning trek through the woods is a little nerve-wracking since there’s an escaped convict on the loose. There have been sightings all over the country and into Mexico, but it seems more likely, he’d be near the lake—where she is.

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Ellie has a good camera and likes to take photos which comes to the attention of the chief of police, a fat, drunken, and smelly man. Since he doesn’t have a camera, doesn’t know how to work one, he asks Ellie to come photograph two bodies at the base of a cliff. It seems the two tried to dive into the lake and met the rocky shore rather than the water.

Ellie’s reporter instincts kick in and she wonders why the man was dressed only in his underwear. The other victim, a teenager, was in his camp clothes. The police chief doesn’t seem overly concerned about looking further and is willing to call both deaths an accident.

When it’s discovered that the man had been one of the group of friends that they hadn’t seen in years, it’s a shock to all—or so it seems. As Ellie looks for answers, the questions keep piling up until she is sure the deaths were anything but accidental.

The book is set in 1961. Ellie seems like such a modern woman, it’s hard to remember this was a time when women were just starting to hold some jobs—like news reporter, rather than writing for the society page.

Image source: Seventh Street Books

As Ellie looks into the deaths, she also faces grief for the deaths in her own family, her attraction for Isaac even in moments when he’s not likable, and her need to know what happened. The mystery is a good one as the lives of all concerned are a tangled mess mixed with lies and deceit which gives more than one person a good motive to kill.

This is the fourth in the Ellie Stone Mystery series with Styx & Stone, No Stone Unturned, and Stone Cold Dead coming first. The last sentence of the book hints that book five could be very interesting for Ellie, a great ending without being a cliffhanger.

To enter to win a copy of Heart of Stone, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “stone,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 23, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra’s short stories on UnTreed Reads including her newest, "Arthur", included in the anthology titled, Flash and Bang, available now.


  1. Have added this to my TBR list and can't wait to read it. brichardson0056@yahoo.com

  2. New series to me. I'm looking forward to reading the book.

  3. New series to me. I'm looking forward to reading the book.