Reviews by L. J. Roberts

JAMES W. ZISKIN – Cast the First Stone. Ellie Stone #5. Seventh Street Books, softcover, June 2017.

First Sentence:   Sitting at the head of runway 31R at Idlewild, the jet hummed patiently, its four turbines spinning, almost whining.

   Los Angeles. 1962. Tony Eberle, a boy from upstate New York, is about to appear in his first Hollywood film and small-town reporter, Ellie Stone, has been sent West to do a story on Tony. One problem: Tony is missing, the director is desperate, and the producer has been murdered. Can Ellie solve the murder and find a hopefully innocent Tony?

   Ziskin has truly captured the time and details of the early 1960s. How refreshing to not have cell phones, GPS, the internet, and all the rest of today’s technology. Instead, there are pay phones, telegrams, Thomas Bros. Guide maps, and good old legwork. And twenty-five cent tips; an element that is really is overworked. There are excellent cultural references to the music, actors, and locations of the time, as well as emerging stories of the homosexuality of Rock Hudson, Tony Perkins, and others.

   Ellie is a really well-drawn character; she’s smart, clever, independent, and resourceful. As she is also the author’s narrator, she is also the voice of some great lines— “The same waitress from the day before asked me how my fairy tale had worked out. I shook my head and said it had turned grim.”

    Cast the First Stone has a very good plot with unexpected twists, including the killer one doesn’t predict. What was particularly nice was that there was never an obvious suspect, and the ending was delightful.

— For more of LJ’s reviews, check out her blog at :

       The Ellie Stone series —

1. Styx & Stone (2013)

2. No Stone Unturned (2014)      Nominated for Anthony, Best Paperback Original.
3. Stone Cold Dead (2015)      Nominated for Barry, Best Paperback Original.
4. Heart of Stone (2016)      Nomintated for Anthony & Edgar, Best Paperback Original.

5. Cast the First Stone (2017)
6. A Stone’s Throw (2018)