Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Stone's Throw: An Ellie Stone Mystery #6 by James W. Ziskin

A Stone’s Throw: An Ellie Stone Mystery #6 by James W. Ziskin. Prometheus Books. Copyright June 2018.; pb. 299 pp.; ISBN: 9781633884199.

Ellie Stone is a spunky, curious journalist who’s unafraid to explore any idea she gets in her head about a case.  Before one can flip a few pages, she notices smoke in the distance of the beautiful Saratoga Springs area of upstate New York in the 1960s.  It’s the Tempesta Stud Farm, that had once seen better days and is now burning to the ground.  For those who love the world of horse racing, this is a huge loss, even if it is no longer a flourishing business.  However, the whole situation turns grim when two bodies burned beyond recognition are found. It’s Ellie, after the fire has smoldered and gone out, who discovers a singed length of gold and black diamond patterned silk wrapped around the neck of one of the victims.

A bullet through the head of one victim clearly indicates that this is murder and perhaps arson.  Ellie refuses to let it rest there and begins exploring who the silk belonged to, believing it belonged to a jockey named Johnny Dornan.  It also turns out he hasn’t been seen in days.  No one is overly concerned since Dornan didn’t have the nicest reputation and wasn’t trusted or friendly with the ordinary crew working the racetrack scene. 

Ellie’s friend, Fadge, fills Ellie in on missing information about the races.  He’s a funny guy who spends hours and days reading racing sheets but loses as often as he wins bets at the track.  He’s rather fond of Ellie but their relationship never gets beyond fondness.  And he adds some information for readers not familiar with the betting on races process.

No spoilers here but suffice to say that several woman and gamers are involved in Johnny Dornan’s life.  There are several characters who don’t like to lose and resent anyone out of their circle asking too many questions.  But that doesn’t stop Ellie; if anything, it spurs her on, always with Fadge by her side or not far behind her.  Unfortunately, others will die before all the gaps have been filled in the mystery.

The sixth mystery of James Ziskin is as good, if not better, than his previous novels.  One knows the troubles and crimes will all sort themselves out, but one still can’t predict how that will happen, and that is the enjoyable process for the reader.  Nicely done, James Ziskin!!!

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