Cast the First Stone

An Ellie Stone Mystery

James W. Ziskin
  • 290 pp
  • ISBN 978-1-63388-281-2
  • Paperback • $15.95
  • June 2017

World Rights

February 1962: Tony Eberle has just scored his first role in a Hollywood movie, and the publisher of his hometown newspaper in upstate New York wants a profile of the local boy who’s made good.

Reporter Ellie Stone is dispatched to Los Angeles for the story. But when she arrives on set to meet her subject, Tony has vanished. The director is apoplectic, his agent is stumped, and the producer is dead.

Ellie is on the story, diving headfirst into a treacherous demimonde of Hollywood wannabes, beautiful young men, desperately ambitious ingénues, panderers, and pornography hobbyists. Then there are some real movie stars with reputations to protect. To find the killer, Ellie must separate the lies from the truth, unearthing secrets no one wants revealed along the way. But before she can solve producer Bertram Wallis’s murder, she must locate Tony Eberle.


“Ellie is a refreshing, riotously funny amateur sleuth. Spot-on language and perceptions of the era are a plus.”

—Publishers Weekly

“A gripping read.”

—RT Book Reviews


“James Ziskin has written another great read, imbued with a rich cast of characters and a tight plot that bristles with tension. Ellie Stone is the perfect protagonist—extraordinary but with enough girl-next-door charm in her that she instantly becomes a friend. This is one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, and it belongs on every mystery lover’s to-be-read list.”

—Allen Eskens, USA Today-bestselling author of The Life We Bury

“Heart of Stone is the best Ellie Stone mystery yet, and that’s saying something. The plot rockets along, fueled by colorful characters, intriguing clues, and Ellie herself, who is witty, vulnerable, and one of the finest and most fun amateur sleuths in crime fiction. I’ve read every Ellie Stone mystery, and I can’t wait for the next.”

—Mark Pryor, author of The Paris Librarian

“Ellie Stone can hold her own (and her Scotch) against anyone, but what happens to a tough girl reporter on vacation when her defenses are down? When a lakeside accident doesn’t add up, Ellie takes on the story. Heart of Stone is a big-hearted crush of a novel, brimming with rekindled kinship, forgiveness, love, and characters who will make readers feel true heartbreak.”

—Lori Rader-Day, Anthony Award-winning author of The Black Hour

“Ellie Stone has quickly become one of my favorite sleuths as she careens into the modern world, demanding her rightful place—and getting it—no matter how hard anyone tries to deter her or how much jeopardy she puts herself into.”

—Larry D. Sweazy, award-winning author of See Also Deception

“Everything you’d hope it would be—gripping, unpredictable, and full of sexual intrigue. Ziskin creates a rich community of multifaceted actors—the volatile zealot, the cold beauty with dark secrets, the irresistibly sexy man from Ellie’s past, and many more. A hard-drinking, sophisticated, modern girl, Ellie Stone herself is unforgettable. Alternately steely and vulnerable, Ellie sets off to discover what really happened to two young men found dead at the bottom of a cliff near a peaceful lake in the Adirondacks. Ziskin’s expert plotting, living, breathing characters, and beautiful command of the language make Heart of Stone one of the best books I’ve read this year. You must read Heart of Stone.”

—Jennifer Kincheloe, author of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

James W. Ziskin is the author of Styx & Stone, No Stone Unturned, Stone Cold Dead, and Heart of Stone, the first four Ellie Stone mysteries. A linguist by training, Ziskin was director of New York University’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò for five years, where he collaborated with an impressive catalogue of writers, journalists, and academics on cultural and educational events.

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