Review: Stone Cold Dead

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Book Title: Stone Cold Dead
Author: James W. Ziskin
Series: Ellie Stone #3
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Historical Fiction

Date Read: 07/18/16
Pub Date: 05/12/16


December 21, 1960, the shortest day of the year: Fifteen-year-old Darleen Hicks slips away from her school bus as it idles in the junior-high parking lot, waiting to depart. Moments later the bus rumbles away without her, and she is never seen again.

New Year’s Eve, 1960: The small upstate town of New Holland, New York, is in the grips of a severe cold snap, when Ellie Stone receives a late-night caller—Irene Metzger, the grieving mother of Darleen Hicks. She tells Ellie that the local police won’t help her, that they believe Darleen has run off with some older boy and will return when she is ready. Irene has read Ellie’s stories in the paper on an earlier murder case and believes Ellie is her last hope.

Ellie Stone is on a chilling journey to a place of uncertainty, loss, teenage passion, and vulnerability—where Ellie’s questions are unwanted and her life is in danger.

This was another fantastic entry in the Ellie Stone series. I’m feeling a little sad knowing that the next book will have me all caught up and there will be no more Ellie Stone (hopefully just until more is written!). She’s quickly become a dear friend that I look forward to catching up with and I cannot imagine her story being finished anytime soon. Each book is stronger and the character development goes deeper.

Beginning the book with Ellie being called on to solve a case has become par for the course, but this time hits a bit closer to home. You see, the girl that has gone missing is someone that Ellie came in contact with recently, someone who reminds her too much of herself at the young age of fifteen. Ellie believes, along with police, that Darleen Hicks has simply run off with an older man; why else would there be no trace of foul play? As the case progresses, Ellie begins to find evidence of multiple forms of dark secrets. You can quite honestly trust no one in this book; everyone is a suspect. Once again, Mr. Ziskin fooled me completely and threw in his signature damning evidence near the end. I always look forward to this part; there is always some aspect that was touched upon in the beginning that ends up being a key element in the course of the investigation. So far I am 0/3 on guessing these, which is just as I prefer it.

We also dig deeper into Ellie’s character as well as Sheriff Frank Olney’s. We see a bit more of Ellie’s softer side, in her responses to teenagers, grieving mothers, and even her editor at the paper. I enjoyed getting to know Frank more as well; his and Ellie’s relationship is special and I love seeing their mutual respect for each other blossom. We also meet a new potential love interest! Will this be the end of Ellie’s flagrant one night stands, or just a plot twist to help save her “delicate, female reputation”? I’m looking forward to finding out in the next book! I would highly recommend reading this series, even if you aren’t typically into historical fiction. These are classy, intelligent mysteries, and are especially appealing if you prefer the whodunnit. If you are looking to start reading these, go back and begin with Styx & Stones (my review found HERE) so that you can be a part of Ellie’s character development from the start. These books can technically be read as a stand alone though, as they don’t give away vital evidence from the previous book’s independent mysteries.

*I’d like to thank James Ziskin, JKS Publicity, and Seventh Street Books for providing my copies of the entire series in exchange for honest reviews.



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