Review: Heart of Stone

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Book Title: Heart of Stone
Author: James W. Ziskin
Series: Ellie Stone #4
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Amateur Sleuth, Crime Fiction, Detective

Date Read: 08/17/16
Pub Date: 06/07/16


In the waning days of a lazy August holiday, Ellie Stone is enjoying a bright Adirondack-lake morning. Nearby, two men plummet to their deaths just a few feet short of the water of a dangerous diving pool. A tragic accident, it seems. But the state police quickly establish that the two victims–one, a stranger to the lake and, the other, a teenaged boy from a nearby music camp–surely didn’t know each other. That anomaly is strange enough, but what really perplexes Ellie is the out-of-place station wagon parked twenty yards from the edge of the cliff.

Wading into a slippery morass of fellow travelers, free-love intellectuals, rabid John Birchers, and charismatic evangelicals, Ellie must navigate old grudges and Cold War passions, lost ideals and betrayed loves. She sticks her nose where it’s unwanted, rattling nerves and putting herself in jeopardy. But this time, it’s her heart that’s at risk.

I’m officially caught up on Ellie’s story and I’m slightly not ok with it. While it was a fantastic story, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye until next year, when book #5 (Cast the First Stone) is published. Ellie has become a dear friend; she’s a tough girl who takes crap from no one, holds her liquor better than most men, and is fully confident in who she is and in paving the way for women in the work force during the 60’s. Good luck trying to rein her in and getting her to settle down; however, we do get to see a softer side of our girl during this installment.

I’ll admit it took me a little longer to get into the beginning of this one; I mostly blame that on my pouting for a few pages due to missing our old characters in backwoods New York, but the new cast for this book took over nicely and drew me in just as well. This entire book had a different feel; the mystery was still top notch but there was even more backstory to Ellie’s childhood, along with further delving into her emotions and demons she has been wrestling with since book 1. The style of writing in this book reminded me a good bit of book 1, Styx & Stone, in the sense there are a good deal of new characters that can be difficult to follow at first but all come together to a nice point. The author takes the time to focus on each character to give us plenty of development, as these are all a group of friends who have known each other for many years, all the way back to those childhood summers at the lake each year. This seems to wipe out any confusion between characters and makes this read worth your time.

I am 0/4 people; I cannot seem to solve these mysteries until good Mr. Ziskin deems it time for me to know. Again, there is always a small detail that comes to light at the end of the book that offered evidence for the mystery to be solved, I just never seem to be able to piece it together myself until it is spelled out for me. I was extremely satisfied with the ending of this one; while everything did tie up nicely, it wasn’t cookie cutter pretty and it made the story feel more relatable and believable. It is always fun to go back in history with these stories; I tend to feel like it is such a welcome escape to a much simpler time that we have lost touch with, while also making me grateful for the progress we have made through the years, especially involving racial/women’s issues. In short, another incredible read from James Ziskin that has wormed it’s way into my heart and won me over to follow Ms. Stone for life.

*Once again, many thanks to JKS Publicity, Seventh Street Books, and Author James Ziskin for providing me copies to the entire series in exchange for fair and honest reviews. I’ve loved them so much that I’ll be raffling my copies off on the blog for another lucky individual to enjoy and hopefully spread the word! 

9 thoughts on “Review: Heart of Stone”

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