MysteryPeople Review: CAST THE FIRST STONE by James W. Ziskin

  • Review by MysteryPeople Contributor and Mystery Maven Meike Alana

9781633882812Cast the First Stone is the latest installment in James Ziskin’s Ellie Stone mystery series featuring newspaper reporter Ellie Stone.  Ziskin joins us here at the store to speak and sign his new installment in the series on August 26th, when he’ll be appearing with another favorite from Seventh Street Books, Mark Pryor. 

Ellie’s bosses may sometimes assign her the fluff pieces, but as Ziskin’s latest begins, Ellie lands an assignment sure to be interesting throughout. For once the paper’s publisher has a meaty story for her to cover—the New Holland Republic is going to send her to Los Angeles to profile local hero Tony Eberle; the actor has just landed his first starring movie role in the latest beach-themed Hollywood blockbuster.  But when Ellie arrives on the studio set to interview her subject, he doesn’t show up for filming and is promptly fired from the production.   

Read More »

Humor and Horror: MysteryPeople Q&A with Adrian McKinty

  • Interview by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

I’ve followed Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series for years now, ever since I flew through his Troubles Trilogy, only to jump up and down with happiness when I realized he planned to continue the series. With the release of McKinty’s latest, Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly, I found an opportunity to interview the man himself, rather than just talking to the internet about how much I love his books. Thanks to Seventh Street Books for bringing his works to the states, and thanks to Adrian for letting me ask him a series of rather long questions. 

Molly Odintz: So the idea that Sean Duffy can quit smoking is rather laughable to me. Will he ever get his health together in the context of life in such a stressful position? 

Adrian McKinty: I seriously doubt it. I knew many coppers in that era and all of them were huge social drinkers and chain smokers that you would be foolish to try and keep up with. But there’s always hope. I think he’s probably off the cocaine for good now which is nice.

MO: In your latest, you show how entrenched and mafia-like the paramilitaries have become by the late 80s, especially when it comes to drug crimes. By the late 80s, do you think more paramilitaries were motivated by power and money than politics? 

AM: By the early 80s it was obvious that the Troubles were not going to end anytime soon so the smarter/more cynical ones diversified into protect rackets and drugs. At a famous meeting in Belfast in 1985 supposedly mortal enemies the IRA and UVF met to divide Belfast into drug territories. And that is still the case to this very day.

Read More »

MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: A WELCOME MURDER by Robin Yocum

  • Post by MysteryPeople Contributor Meike Alana

9781633882638Johnny Earl was once a great high school athlete—perhaps the greatest in the storied history of Steubenville High School, home of the Big Red.  But in 8 short years his star has risen and spectacularly fallen—after a brief stint as a Pittsburgh Pirate (the highlight of which was a triple hit off Nolan Ryan and which ended when he blew out his knee), his second career as a cocaine dealer ended with a spell in the federal penitentiary.

As A Welcome Murder begins, Johnny has been released from prison and has returned to his hometown of Steubenville.  He plans to stay just long enough to retrieve the drug money he hid before his incarceration, then head out for parts unknown– but just moments before he’s ready to hit the road he’s picked up for questioning in the murder of Rayce Daubner, the FBI informant who set him up on drug charges in the first place.  While he’s spending the night in jail, his former cellmate shows up—the white supremacist who wants Johnny’s drug money to help fund the Aryan nation he’s founded somewhere in the wilds of Idaho or Nevada (he’s not quite sure of the location).  He already has a pair of wives waiting for Johnny so he can do his part to further the cause.

Read More »

MysteryPeople Q&A with James W. Ziskin

Heart Of Stone is the latest in James Ziskin’s series featuring early 1960s “girl reporter” Ellie Stone. James will be joining his fellow Seventh Street author Mark Pryor at a BookPeople signing this Saturday, August 20th at 6PM. Our Meike Alana got some early questions in.

 

  • Interview by MysteryPeople Contributor Meike Alana

Meike Alana: The Ellie Stone novels are written in the first person, and you write a very convincing female in her early 20’s. How did you develop that voice?

James W. Ziskin: I try to imagine a fully developed character in Ellie. Her thoughts, aspirations, loves, hates. Her joys and pains. Simply describing what she’s doing from chapter to chapter doesn’t cut it, even if her behavior happens to be believable to the reader. That makes for a cardboard-thin character, flat and, ultimately, uninteresting. Instead, I want to climb inside Ellie’s head and create a fully formed character and, by extension, a voice. So how do I get inside Ellie? I mine those emotions I mentioned above. I imagine how she would feel and react in certain situations. Would she keep quiet, mouth off, or feel defeated? What would she say to a man dismissing her as “just a girl”? What would she do if he patted her rear end? What kind of man would she find attractive? Irresistible? Contemptible? It’s hard to do, of course. If you’re truly going to hang flesh on the bones of your character, be she a woman or a man, you need more than just a physical description and a couple of quirks or mannerisms. You need to empathize with your characters. Understand them, think them through. Make them complex, multidimensional, dense, and deep. Give them weight. And once you’ve done that, the voice will come.

“If you’re truly going to hang flesh on the bones of your character, be she a woman or a man, you need more than just a physical description and a couple of quirks or mannerisms. You need to empathize with your characters. Understand them, think them through. Make them complex, multidimensional, dense, and deep. Give them weight. And once you’ve done that, the voice will come.”

 

Read More »

Beautiful women, French food, and rare books: MysteryPeople reviews THE PARIS LIBRARIAN by Mark Pryor

Come by BookPeople on Saturday, August 20th, at 6 PM, for a panel discussion with two fantastic authors from Seventh Street Books! Mark Pryor will be speaking and signing his latest Hugo Marston novel, The Paris Librarianreviewed below. He’ll be joined by James Ziskin, author of the Ellie Stone series, speaking and signing Heart of Stone. 

  • Post by MysteryPeople Contributor and Character in the Novel Meike Alana

9781633881778The Paris Librarian is the latest installment in Mark Pryor’s series featuring Hugo Marston, the cowboy-boot wearing former FBI profiler from Texas who now heads up security at the American Embassy in Paris. It has something for everyone—booze, guns, action, beautiful women, history, humor, danger, fantastic French food, and BOOKS!  

The novel finds Hugo, an avid collector of rare books, negotiating a potential addition to his collection—his friend Paul Rogers, the director of the American Library, is arranging the sale of some books to raise funds for the library.  Hugo and Paul set up a meeting for the next morning, but when Hugo arrives at the library he finds Paul dead, the victim of an apparent heart attack.  Paul had been inside a locked room so it doesn’t appear that foul play was involved, but Hugo has a tingling in the back of his neck which suggests there may be more at play—and years of experience have proven that tingling is rarely wrong.

Read More »

On Hollywood and Hemingway: MysteryPeople Q&A with Shaun Harris

In The Hemingway Thief, the recently released debut crime novel from author Shaun Harris, a writer of popular vampire novels is on the trail of the suitcase containing Hemingway’s original draft of A Movable Feast, with a cast of questionable characters. Our Meike Alana got to ask Shaun some questions about the book and the writing process.

  • Interview by MysteryPeople Contributor Meike Alana

“As I started to do some research I realized that I hate Hemingway as both a writer and a man. At the prospect of having to read more of his work and then aping it, I decided to go in a different direction.”

Meike Alana: How did the legend of Hemingway’s lost suitcase become the inspiration for your novel?

Shaun Harris: A number of years back I was watching the movie Wonder Boys for the 8 billionth time and Michael Douglas’s character mentioned the lost suitcase in a throwaway line. I looked it up and thought it was an intriguing idea. At first I went for the obvious idea of having the protagonist find the suitcase and pass it off as his own. As I started to do some research I realized that I hate Hemingway as both a writer and a man. At the prospect of having to read more of his work and then aping it, I decided to go in a different direction. So the idea sat in my brain for a while until I came up with what that direction would be. And that will be answered in a later question.

Read More »

MysteryPeople Review: HEART OF STONE by James Ziskin

Review by MysteryPeople Contributor Meike Alana

9781633881839In James W. Ziskin’s latest Ellie Stone mystery, Heart of Stone, our heroine is enjoying a lazy August holiday in an Adirondack cabin belonging to her aunt. One morning, two men are found dead just a few feet away from a tranquil lake—they appear to have fallen from a treacherous cliff. The police treat the deaths as an unfortunate accident, but for Ellie things don’t quite add up—the two men apparently didn’t know one another, and a station wagon belonging to neither was found a few feet from where the men must have fallen. So why did they die together?

In true Ellie fashion, she sticks her nose where it isn’t wanted—encountering a colorful cast of characters with loose morals, zealous political views, and secret romances. She’s tough, smart, and sassy—and can hold her Scotch with the best of them—but her heart may be at risk when she becomes involved with a fellow vacationer. And as she delves deeper into the mysterious deaths, more than her heart may be in peril. The plot has plenty of convolutions with a supremely satisfying ending.

Ellie is one of my favorite characters in the genre. Her intelligence and fearlessness belie her youth. She’s at once vulnerable yet self-assured, intelligent yet impulsive, liberated yet yearning for a romantic connection. But what really sets Ziskin’s books apart is the poetry of his writing—a linguist by training, he excels at poetic and evocative descriptions of the fascinating characters and the nostalgic 1960’s upstate New York setting. Previous installments in the Ellie Stone series are: Styx & Stone; No Stone Unturned (an Anthony Award nominee for Best Paperback Original); and Stone Cold Dead (a 2016 Left Coast Crime “Lefty” Award nominee for Best World Mystery Novel).

Heart of Stone comes out today! You can find copies on our shelves and via bookpeople.com