cover image Turn to Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery

Turn to Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery

James W. Ziskin. Seventh Street, $15.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-63388-552-3

Ziskin’s enjoyable seventh Ellie Stone mystery (after 2018’s A Stone’s Throw) takes smart, self-possessed photojournalist Ellie to Florence, Italy, in 1963. She has been invited there by Professor Alberto Bondinelli to attend a symposium and accept an award on behalf of her late father, a medieval poetry scholar. This is to be followed by a relaxing stay at a country estate in Tuscany. Not a full day passes before Bondinelli’s lifeless body is fished from the Arno River. Even though the students and colleagues who helped organize the event are shocked by the death, they agree to complete their academic duties and to spend the weekend at the country house. When a rubella outbreak forces the participants, each one a distinctive character, to extend their stay, they pass the time telling stories, some of which touch tangentially on the murder. Plenty of possible motives keep the reader guessing to the unexpected ending. Erudite and often amusing digressions add to the story’s charm. Agent: William Reiss, John Hawkins & Assoc. (Jan.)