Anthony, Barry, and Macavity Award-Winning Author James W. Ziskin


NO STONE UNTURNED has been nominated for the 2015 Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original Novel. Click here to see the full list of categories and nominees.

CLICK HERE to read the first chapter of No Stone Unturned.

Thanksgiving 1960

A dead girl in the woods. Three little oil spots on the dirt road. A Dr Pepper bottle cap in the shallow grave. And a young reporter, armed with nothing but a camera.

Evening is falling on a wet, gray, autumn day in upstate New York. A hunter, tramping through a muddy wood north of the small town of New Holland, has tripped over the body of a twenty-one-year-old society girl half-buried in the leaves. Ellie Stone, twenty-four-year-old reporter for a small local daily, is the first reporter on the scene. The investigation provides a rare opportunity to rescue her drowning career (and herself at the same time). But all leads seem to die on the vine, until Ellie takes a daring chance that unleashes unintended chaos. Wading through a voyeuristic tangle of small-town secrets and big university grudges, she makes some desperate enemies who want her off the case. Dead if necessary.

Praise for No Stone Unturned

No Stone_3

Portland Book Review
“An intriguing mystery set in simpler times, this stylish story is immensely enjoyable. The author has captured the attitudes and setting of the ’60’s perfectly, and the people come to life on the pages, bringing readers to worry about Ellie’s safety, and to fear the murderer will not be caught.”


Reporter/photographer Ellie Stone finally has the story of her life. It’s Thanksgiving 1960, and Jordan Shaw, a local young woman home from Tufts University, has been murdered and dumped in the woods near the small town of New Holland, NY. Jordan had broken several young men’s hearts, but her current activities (a trip to India and the use of an IUD, for openers) startle even Ellie and she’s not one to flinch from modern lifestyles. When Ellie heads to Boston to interview the deceased’s roommate, she finds her slain also. Ellie realizes that Jordan’s cryptic datebook entries can help her narrow down the suspects; she unearths a veritable minefield of professors and grad students. Her interviews on campus fire up folks and before long she is in real danger.
VERDICT Ziskin’s sophomore entry (after Styx & Stone) rolls along energetically, and his smart and aggressive protagonist has real personality. The author’s touch for academic politics coupled with his clear observations of the early years of the 1960s is superb. Don’t miss this series.


The year is 1960. Reporter Ellie Stone (Styx & Stone, 2013) looks for her big break covering the grisly murder of a beautiful college student in upstate New York.

Everyone in New Holland agreed that Judge Harrison Shaw’s daughter Jordan was the best. She was homecoming queen in high school and is now a sophomore at Tufts, where she’s the star of the French Department. Straight-arrow Tom Quint adored her, bad-boy Pukey Boyle lusted after her, and ungainly Glenda Whalen idolized her. So how did Jordan’s naked body end up in the woods the weekend after Thanksgiving? Sent by the New Holland Republic to take pictures for a story written by George Walsh, a rival reporter, Ellie hopes to get a scoop of her own by finding Jordan’s car, which turns up parked at the Mohawk Motel. She also finds out from the medical examiner that Jordan had been fitted with an intrauterine device. Suspecting that a lover may have been involved in Jordan’s death, Ellie looks first at the local boys who flirted their ways into Jordan’s heart and then to the men of Tufts, who may have offered her more mature enticements. At every step, Ellie finds frustration: from her rival at the Republic; from locals who don’t want to believe their golden girl may have strayed from the righteous path; and most of all, from a murderer who would kill again to avoid being unmasked.

You can’t help rooting for tenacious Ellie, who has the grit to know when she’s right and the grace to admit when she’s wrong.

“In No Stone Unturned, the investigation into the death of a small-town beauty queen takes Ellie deep into the personal lives of the townspeople. Ziskin realistically recreates the 1960s without resorting to shortcuts or cliché. His bold heroine struggles with her own demons—her career, her love life, and the recent death of her father, as she pursues a smart, clue-filled investigation.”


“This one will surely put him (Ziskin) on the map. It’s a murder mystery featuring a cub reporter for a small upstate New York newspaper, Ellie Stone, whose zeal propels her ahead of the police with her investigation of the killing of a powerful judge’s beguiling daughter and embroils her in small-town conspiracies trying to pin the murder on a hapless peeping Tom who, Ellie believes, only witnessed what happened at the Mohawk motel. It’s a great read with stunning characterizations and will surely position Ziskin in the upper echelon of crime fiction writers.”

RT Book Reviews FOUR STARS

Ziskin successfully depicts a young reporter’s struggle with forensic evidence, recalcitrant witnesses and violence. Careful plotting leads the authorities to a suspect who might not be the real killer. Ellie is sometimes cavalier about her own safety, which keeps the action exciting.”

— Donna M. Brown

Publishers Weekly

In Ziskin’s taut second Ellie Stone mystery (after 2013’s Styx and Stone), the reporter looks into the murder of Jordan Shaw, a college girl seen having multiple assignations at the Mohawk Motel before her body was discovered half-buried in the woods outside New Holland, N.Y. The townspeople can’t decide which shocks them more: the murder, or the fact that Jordan, their golden girl, had a decidedly un-golden reputation. Ellie, meanwhile, sees Jordan’s death as an opportunity to prove her worth as a journalist. Jordan’s posse of ex-boyfriends, lovers, and suitors descend on Ellie, stalking her, assaulting her, cutting her car brakes, and derailing her investigation. While most of the characters are mere caricatures (including students Prakash Singh and Hakim Mohammed, who serve as ham-fisted symbols of the Indo-Pakistani conflict), Ellie keeps the reader’s attention throughout, as her mask of cool competence and roguish charm slowly falls away to reveal her all-consuming ambition. 

James W. Ziskin has created a solid plot that takes the reader on a 1960 mystery adventure through the eyes of Ellie Stone. The descriptions of 1960 gadgets and life, everything from typewriters instead of computers to rotary phones to phone booths, all help to immerse the reader in that era. Ellie is a well developed, likable person, with her fair share of character flaws that make her a realistic character. The descriptions of upstate NY and New Holland make the reader feel they are right there with Ellie cheering her on to make sure she leaves “No Stone Unturned.”
— Terry Ambrose

Ellie Stone “knocks back whiskeys, survives three concussions, and bats away passes from both cops and low-lifes. The solution to the murder takes us through a trail so tangled it threatens to leave readers scratching their heads. But Ellie, a character with pluck and smarts, keeps us hanging on.” — Jack Batten

NO STONE UNTURNED is the second Ellie Stone book by James Ziskin. The idea that a man wrote a story about a woman struggling against male dominance is impressive. The fact that he did it so well is mind-boggling. The characters are well-drawn and the story line is tight. The glass-ceiling thing is the underpinning that holds together several other issues. Ziskin manages to deal with the sexual freedom of the sixties, racial prejudices and the lifestyles of the upwardly-mobile, all while spinning a really satisfying yarn of a mystery. – Caryl Harvey

“Second of the Ellie Stone Mystery series, this thoroughly enjoyable whodunit shows how much our society has changed in the last fifty years while delivering a solid story. Ellie’s character is flawed just enough to add credibility without overshadowing the often twisted storyline. It is nice to see that even in the face of determined opposition from all sides, Ellie is committed to discovering the truth behind Jordan’s untimely death. As details about Jordan’s life are revealed, she becomes a more compelling figure. Naturally there are no shortage of suspects and it is a treat watching Ellie follow the breadcrumb trail through to the bitter end.
This is an evenly paced, well thought out tale that is sure to garner Ziskin a strong following.”

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