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A dead girl in the woods. Three little oil spots on the dirt road. A Dr. Pepper bottle cap in the shallow grave. And a young reporter, armed with nothing but a camera.
Evening is falling on a wet, gray, autumn day in upstate New York. Ellie Stone, twenty-four-year-old reporter for a small local daily, stands at a crossroads in her career and in her life. Alone in the world, battling her own losses and her own demons, Ellie is ready to pack it in and return to New York a failure. Then she hears the dispatch over the police scanner.
A hunter, tramping through a muddy wood north of the small town of New Holland, has tripped over the body of a twenty-one-year-old society girl half-buried in the leaves. Ellie is the first reporter on the scene. The investigation provides a rare opportunity to rescue her drowning career, but all leads seem to die on the vine, until Ellie takes a daring chance that unleashes unintended chaos.
Wading through a voyeuristic tangle of small-town secrets, she makes some desperate enemies, who want her off the case. Dead if necessary.
“Ziskin’s…smart and aggressive protagonist has real personality. The author’s touch for academic politics coupled with his clear observations of the early years of the 1960s is superb. Don’t miss this series.”
–LIBRARY JOURNAL STARRED REVIEW
“[A] smart, relevant, and thoroughly compelling book that left me eagerly awaiting Ellie Stone’s next adventure.”
–REVIEWING THE EVIDENCE
“The pace is nearly perfect, there are plenty of credibly developed suspects, and there are enough twists and turns in the path Ellie takes to keep it all interesting for the reader.”
“Ziskin’s writing displays a remarkable command of words, building them into a complex and convincing set and cast of characters.”
“You can’t help rooting for tenacious Ellie, who has the grit to know when she’s right and the grace to admit when she’s wrong.”
“An intriguing mystery set in simpler times, this stylish story is immensely enjoyable. The author has captured the attitudes and setting of the ’60’s perfectly, and the people come to life on the pages, bringing readers to worry about Ellie’s safety, and to fear the murderer will not be caught.”
–PORTLAND BOOK REVIEW
James W. Ziskin is a freelance writer and the author of Styx & Stone, the first Ellie Stone Mystery. A linguist by training, Ziskin has a bachelor of arts and a master of arts from the University of Pennsylvania in Romance languages and literature. For five years, he was director of New York University's Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, where he collaborated with an impressive catalogue of Italian writers, journalists, and academics on cultural and educational events.
Photo © Juan Tallo