Friday, August 11, 2017

Cast the First Stone by James Ziskin

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.  While the twenty-five cent tips is an element that 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 a killer one doesn’t predict.  What was particularly nice was that there was never an obvious suspect, and the ending was delightful.

CAST THE FIRST STONE (Lic Invest/Jour-Ellie Stone-Los Angeles-1962) – VG
      Ziskin, James W. – 5th in series
      Seventh Street Books – July, 2017

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