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Monday, June 5, 2017

Review: Cast the First Stone by James W. Ziskin @seventhstbooks @prometheusbks @jameswziskin

Cast the First Stone by James W. Ziskin
#5 in the Ellie Stone Mysteries
Seventh Street Books / Prometheus Books
Book 2 in the Nightstruck Series
Releases June 6, 2017

I generally make it a rule not to read series books out of orders, but sometimes you fall into one and you just can't pass it up.  Such is the case for this mystery.  Keep scrolling below to see what my reader-in-crime, Jessica, and I think of this '60s mystery.


February 1962: Tony Eberle has just scored his first role in a Hollywood movie, and the publisher of his hometown newspaper in upstate New York wants a profile of the local boy who’s made good. Reporter Ellie Stone is dispatched to Los Angeles for the story. But when she arrives on set to meet her subject, Tony has vanished. His agent is stumped, the director is apoplectic, and the producer is dead.

Ellie is on the story, diving headfirst into a treacherous demimonde of Hollywood wannabes, beautiful young men, desperately ambitious ingĂ©nues, panderers, and pornography hobbyists. Then there are some real movie stars with reputations to protect. To find the killer, Ellie must separate the lies from the truth, unearthing secrets no one wants revealed along the way. But before she can solve Bertram Wallis’s murder, she must locate Tony Eberle.


My Thoughts:


The year is 1962 and Ellie has been sent to LA from NY to do a story on Tony, a local guy from NY who finally is getting his big break. By the time she gets there, he has disappeared and his producer has been found dead. Coincidence? Ellie decides to investigate.

This is the 5th book in the Ellie Stone series, which I did not know initially going in. It doesn't read bad as a stand alone but there were a couple nuances that I think may have gotten lost on me since I didn't read the first 4. I really love Ellie. She's smart, sassy, knows what she wants and is strong in an occupation dominated by men. She deals with sexism and alternative lifestyles that were prevalent and hidden during this era. The author does an outstanding job of keeping the storyline true to the time it was written in. 

The book reads at a slow to moderate pace with no real surprises (maybe one tiny twist but nothing that makes you spit out your drink). I typically like my mystery and thrillers at a faster pace... but this book was done extremely well. A lot of focus is placed on the subject of homosexuality and how society reacted to this since it was something you kept hidden. I related to Ellie and the social issues of the 1960s - empathizing with the minor characters as well. The author did a fantastic job of dealing with these with honesty and grace.

If you like a character driven mystery with a strong female lead, you will adore this book. I take a star off because I wish it was faster paced and because I haven't read the first 4 books and felt like maybe it would've had a bigger punch if I had.  4 sassy stars!


View all my reviews


Jessica's Thoughts:


I've heard nothing but good things about this book! CAST THE FIRST STONE by James W Ziskin is the fifth installment in the Ellie Stone series. I was nervous starting a series so late down the line, but I continued. I'm glad I did! I'll definitely be looking for the other four books. 

Ellie Stone is a small town reporter that travels to LA to interview a hometown actor. She arrives at the studio to meet him, but Tony Eberle has vanished, his director is in shock, and the producer is dead. Ellie dives in headfirst to the story and into the world of Hollywood wannabes, ambitious ingenues, panderers, and even porn hobbyists. There are big name celebrities trying to protect their reputations and in order to find the killer, Ellie needs to weed through the lies to find the truth. Deep buried secrets are unearthed and revealed - but before she can solve the murder of the producer, Bertram Wallis, she needs to find Tony Eberle. 

This takes place in the early 60's in Hollywood. I love how true to the decade Ziskin was - the dialogue especially. This turned into a police procedural and the mystery was good. This was incredibly character driven and you could really relate to Ellie. It was good as a standalone but I feel like I should go back and read the first four books. There were a couple twists thrown in but nothing shocking. It was a great read and I'll definitely be looking for more about Ellie Stone!

I give this 4.5/5 stars - just because I feel like I need to read the other 4!

A big thanks to Prometheus Books for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!



Huge thanks to Prometheus and Seventh Street Books for these copies in return for our honest reviews!

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