Review: Heart of Stone – James W. Ziskin
Susan Courtright – S.E. Shirley
How does Ziskin follow the Anthony Award nominated Stone Cold Dead? He sends Ellie Stone on vacation. If Tom Wolfe cautioned against going home again, he didn’t think to include childhood vacation camps, especially when those camps contained a couple of bodies at the bottom of a cliff. Ellie is thrown into a maelstrom of feelings old and new, untangling lifelong relationships of relatives and friends, and by the way, solving the murders of the newly-discovered corpses. Ziskin is, as always, gentle with Ellie’s naiveties, given her often-audacious behaviors in the early 1960s; he allows Ellie to explore her past girlhood crushes – redux. No matter how often the reader sighs with understanding of Ellie Stone’s relationship situations, there is no doubt about her innate prowess as a detective. Shrewd dissection of her surroundings, instinctive observations of the people within the circle of the crimes, leave the reader nodding in admiration of Ellie’s abilities.
Ziskin recounts with his extraordinary love of language the times of the mid-20th century when Jewish groups of like souls gathered in mountain camps to celebrate music, literature and politics. It is a little-explored time of American East-coast history, and fascinating to read. As with the earlier Ellie Stone books, James Ziskin writes in a prose reminiscent of Raymond Chandler and his era: taut plotting combined with read-aloud language.
The best of the Ellie Stone novels – FIVE STARS