STYX & STONE by James W. Ziskin

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An Ellie Stone Mystery

Ellie Stone and her father have barely spoken since the death of Ellie’s mother. But when Ellie receives word that her father has been attacked and is hanging on by a bare thread, she drops everything to return to him.

It’s 1960. Ellie’s father is a renowned scholar at Columbia, gruff and opinionated but certainly not a target for murder. When another professor in the same department is found dead just days later, Ellie is convinced that her father’s assault has to be more than a simple burglary gone wrong. Vowing to find her father’s attacker, Ellie embarks on her own investigation into the crime.

Who knew academia could be so deadly? Ziskin’s debut and first in the Ellie Stone series is a solid mystery but I found it to be much stronger in terms of character than in plot.

In setting the tone and scene of the times, Ziskin has made Ellie both stubborn and free spirited. (The stubbornness she no doubt inherited from her father.) Obviously 1960 is not the ideal time for an independent woman, much less one investigating an attempted murder, but Ellie is smart and formidable. She is able to tease out details and information even the police can’t.

Styx & Stone sets up Ellie as a series lead, explaining her background and her relationship with her family. The mystery does take a bit of a backseat to all of that, but is still well built and engrossing.

So far there are three books in the Ellie Stone series: Styx & Stone, No Stone Unturned (a 2015 Anthony Award nominee for Best Paperback Original), and Stone Cold Dead, which released just last month.

6/15 Becky LeJeune

STYX & STONE by James W. Ziskin.  Seventh Street Books (October 15, 2013).  ISBN 978-1616148195. 285p.

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