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Friday, June 2, 2017

“Cast the First Stone” An Ellie Stone Mystery By James W. Ziskin

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review & a link to purchase it.

As a result of a hotshot reporter’s superstitious wife forbidding him to fly, it is New Holland Republic’s young reporter Ellie Stone who finds herself taking off to Hollywood to cover the story of a local boy hitting it big. High school drama star Tony Eberle has just been signed on to costar in a 1962 summer beach movie alongside the movie star Bobby Renfro, and Ellie will be promoting the hometown hero as a sign of pride for their failing mill town. Tony’s disappearance before their first interview could tank both their careers, making Ellie determined to find him before she loses her story and Tony misses his chance at stardom. The murder of Twistin’ on the Beach’s producer Bertram Wallis again links their paths as it starts a countdown to how long it will take for Ellie to be replaced on her story, and for Tony to be arrested. The studios control Hollywood’s industries and own the police, so his disappearance coinciding with the producer’s death gives them an easy way to close the case.

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Ellie finds herself a stranger in the strange land of Hollywood, not knowing who to trust in this world of superficiality and pretense. Ellie learns that the murdered producer was renowned for his lurid parties, where aspiring actors were given promises of roles in exchange for sex. Ellie is far too familiar with the rampant sexism facing a woman in her male-dominated profession, but here she is confronted with the hypocritical homophobia of the studios and police. While Tony and his girlfriend are on the run and in hiding, Ellie forms a tentative alliance with a rival reporter, a tabloid photographer, and a studio president’s jaded assistant. 1960s Hollywood never seems so vivid, gorgeous, and corrupted.

Image source: Seventh Street

What has become so entertaining about this series has been seeing Ellie mature from a brash, aggressively confident cynic into a far more empathetic, questioning young woman. She still believes in her inherent right to pursue a career alongside men, but Ellie also has moments where she must question her own prejudices. The writing is so well-crafted that even the most bigoted and revolting Hollywood characters have their sympathetic moments. Just as moving are the portrayals of those who are forced to act in their personal lives as much as in front of the camera. Ellie drinks too much, drives too fast, and is hungrier for a story than a relationship, and while this does not make her a proper young lady, it ensures that she is a stellar heroine for any era.

To enter to win a copy of Cast the First Stone, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “cast,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 10, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please included your mailing address.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I really have to read this series. Thanks for the informative review & giveaway. doward1952(at)yahoo(dot)com

  2. Another new author to me. Would really enjoy reading "Cast the First Stone".