Monday, June 04, 2018

A Stone's Throw by James W. Ziskin

I'm late coming to James W. Ziskin's Ellie Stone mysteries. I read his last book, Cast the First Stone, in which reporter Ellie Stone headed to Hollywood to cover the story of a hometown boy. But, I liked the new book, A Stone's Throw, much more. Ellie is a determined reporter in this one. At the same time, we have a view of her own heartbreak.

Ellie's on the scene in the early August hours when a horse barn at Tempesta, a deserted stud farm, burns to the ground. She's accompanied by a deputy when she walks through the ashes, but she's the one who finds the remains of two bodies. Although the coroner says the bodies are probably of a woman and a boy, Ellie's the one who puts a horse farm and the nearby Saratoga racetrack together, and asks if the second body could be a jockey. Her guesses send her into an investigation into missing people, gambling, and the world of horse racing.

It doesn't hurt that Ellie's best friend, Fadge, loves gambling on the horses during Saratoga's season. He recognizes the silks buried with the body as ones from Harlequin Racing Stables. Fadge can only educate Ellie about racing and gambling. She'll have to do her own research to learn about the people involved with Harlequin, Tempesta, and Saratoga. It's a course that will take her into a wealthy circuit of WASPs, where she realizes a Jewish newspaper reporter is not welcome.

While Ziskin's latest is a cinematic book that clearly brings 1962 in racing circles and Ellie's world to life, it's the characters that are memorable. Ellie is complex and courageous, sassy at times, a well-developed character. And her friendship with Fadge is pricelss. But, Ellie is also so authentic that her failings and her problems break your heart.

As I said, I've only read several of Ziskin's books, but A Stone's Throw is a memorable one.

James W. Ziskin's website is

A Stone's Throw by James W. Ziskin. Seventh Street Books, 2018. ISBN 9781633884199 (paperback), 295p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received a copy to review for a journal.


holdenj said...

I reserved this at the library. I liked Ellie a lot in Cast the First Stone and have you to thank for the intro! You put it well, she is very authentic and I am curious to learn more about her.

You won't believe this Asbestos Lawyer Port Arthur TX said...

"A Stone's Throw" is an entertaining and informative new addition to the Ellie Stone mystery series. It crosses the finish line definitely "in the money."