Ziskin's fifth Ellie Stone mystery, Heart of Stone, is an Edgar nominee for Best Paperback Original this year. Now, he takes his small-town reporter to 1962 Hollywood in Cast the First Stone.
Ellie finally caught a break. By default, she's the one sent to Hollywood to profile Tony Eberle, a local boy from New Holland, New York, who's set to be in his first Hollywood movie. When she arrives at the set on the Paramount lot, there's no trace of Tony, and the set's in a uproar. He never showed up, and the director says he's finished. He'll never work in Hollywood. Ellie could be finished, too. Now, she doesn't have a story, and she could be going right back to New Holland. But, Tony didn't just disappear. He disappeared the same day as the movie producer's body is found, murdered. As Ellie digs a little deeper, and tries to keep her editor off her back, she learns about the wild parties at the producer's home. It's too bad Tony was one of the last ones seen at the man's latest party.
There's Hollywood gossip, sexual innuendo, and stories of 1962 in the film community as Ellie Stone tries to track down the missing actor. She may be a little naive when it comes to the sexual morality of the film industry, but Ellie is savvy when it comes to tracking down people and news stories. She's a skillful interrogator, and a keen observer. Tony may be hiding, but, if anyone can find him, it will be Ellie. And, if she has to uncover a killer to make her news story more palatable to the readers in small-town New York, she'll do that, too.
I hadn't read an Ellie Stone mystery before. But, if Cast the First Stone is any example of James W. Ziskin's writing, I'll be going back to read the earlier books featuring the clever, intrepid reporter.
James W. Ziskin's website is www.jameswziskin.com
Cast the First Stone by James W. Ziskin. Seventh Street Books. 9781633882812 (paperback), 290p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.