Karen’s Killer Book Bench #Character #Interview, Ellie Stone: TURN TO STONE, An Ellie Stone Mystery (7) by James W. Ziskin #Amateur #Sleuth

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An Ellie Stone Mystery (7)


“Quarantined in an Italian palazzo with Ellie Stone is pure bliss. James Ziskin’s TURN TO STONE is another terrific entry in an outstanding mystery series.” — Hallie Ephron, New York Times bestselling author of Careful What You Wish For

“Ziskin keeps readers guessing every step of the way.” — Publishers Weekly 

“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” — Kirkus

“TURN TO STONE is a thoughtful mystery that questions whether forgiveness is always possible” — Foreword Reviews

“A murder mystery studded with art, philosophy and gastronomy, it’s intellectual feminist noir, stile italiana. Brava, Ellie!” — Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times-bestselling author of the Maggie Hope series

This 1960s-era locked-room mystery takes Ellie Stone to Florence, Italy–a seemingly idyllic setting, which in this case has sinister undertones.

Florence, Italy, August 1963. In Italy to accept a posthumous award for her late father’s academic work, “girl reporter” Ellie Stone is invited to spend a weekend outside Florence with some of the scholars attending the symposium. A suspected rubella outbreak leaves the ten friends quarantined in the bucolic setting with little to do but tell stories to entertain themselves. Deciding to make the best of their confinement, the men and women spin tales, gorge themselves on fine Tuscan food and wine, and enjoy the delicious fruit of transient love. But the summer bacchanalia takes a menacing turn when the man who organized the symposium is fished out of the Arno. “Morto.” As long-buried secrets rise to the surface, Ellie must figure out if one or more of her newfound friends is capable of murder.

  • Readers love Ellie Stone!“Original and compelling—and a brilliant twist on the beloved locked room mystery. The incredibly talented James Ziskin has combined the lure of 1963 Florence, a love of Italian literature, and an homage to the classics. But Ziskin doesn’t stop there—TURN TO STONE is a touching and important exploration of history, with a series of life-changing consequences that will keep you riveted to the page. James Ziskin is a knockout storyteller.” —Hank Phillippi Ryan, Nationally best-selling author of The Murder List“This delightful new entry in the Ellie Stone series is a lively, lovely mix of Agatha Christie, Donna Leon, and the Decameron.  Its charm can be found equally in the story’s narrator Ellie Stone, in the beautifully evoked Italian landscape, and in the complexities of the mystery itself.  For anyone not familiar with this excellent series, it’s high time you got to know James Ziskin’s work. Turn to Stone is a great place to begin.”—William Kent Krueger, author of This Tender Land

An Ellie Stone Mystery (7)

Character Interview

Ellie Stone

1.What is your name? Do you have a nickname?

Ellie Stone (ES): My name is Eleonora Stone, but I prefer to go by Ellie. Eleonora sounds as if it was pulled out of a dusty old carpetbag. A cruel joke perpetrated by my father.

2. Who is your best friend? What kinds of things do you do when you’re together?

ES: My dearest friend in the world is Ron “Fadge” Fiorello. He owns the ice cream store across the street from my apartment in New Holland, NY, but his real job is betting on the horses. He’s an incurable gambler, and I fear he’ll lose everything someday. He once won $3,000 in one day at Saratoga, but ended up losing it all and then some over the next two weeks.

Fadge and I enjoy late night pizzas and drinks, and listening to music. His tastes run more to jazz and rock and roll, while I’m partial to classical music, thanks to my late father’s influence. I have to be careful with Fadge, however, as I’m aware that he’s more than a little sweet on me.

3. If you have a family, how do you get along with them? If you don’t, are there people in your life that you consider family? How do you get along with them?

ES: That’s a sore subject. My brother, Elijah, and my mother died within three months of each other several years ago. Then my father died a few years later, leaving me with only an aunt and an elderly cousin for close family. We had a difficult relationship, my father and I. We loved each other, I’m sure. But I’m afraid we didn’t like each other at all.

Apart from Fadge, I have no close friends. Scratch that. Bernie Sanger—my father’s last doctoral student—and I met up again Florence in TURN TO STONE. We had a wonderful time together and I’ve grown to love the egghead like a brother. He even calls me “EL,” just as my late brother, Elijah, did.

4. Do you have a birthmark? Scars? Where are they? How did you get them?

ES: I have no birthmarks aside from the occasional freckle. And no scars or tattoos. Nothing that didn’t come with the original package.

5. When you’re angry, what do you do? Where do you go? How do you deal with your anger?

ES: I might stamp my foot. But usually, I plot my revenge. Just ask my odious colleague at the newspaper, George “Georgie Porgie” Walsh. I’ve been known to steel the type ball from his IBM Selectric and drop it out the fifth floor window to see how high it will bounce.

6. A penguin walks up to you, right now, wearing a sombrero. What does he say to you and why is he here?

ES: No idea. I speak some awk but no penguin.

7. What’s the one thing you’re afraid of losing?

ES: My job. I love reporting. And my Dewar’s Scotch.

8. What makes you laugh out loud?

ES: Dogs knocking down children to steal their ice cream cones.

9. What’s your favorite food?

ES: I’m no gourmet. For me, a balanced meal consists of cocktail weenies and pitted green olives soaked in gin. Meat and vegetables.

10. What’s the one thing you want out of life that you don’t think you can have? Why can’t you have it?

ES: I’ve wanted to be a police detective for many years, but that’s not an option for women. So I’ve had to be satisfied with newspaper reporting. I’ve been fortunate to be able to investigate some interesting crimes in recent years. It’s the next best thing to being a police detective.


“The best current mystery series around.” — Cleveland Plain Dealer

“With abundant academic flair and somber references to the Holocaust and World War II, Ziskin successfully pulls off a nuanced plot sure to appeal to both fans of academia and Mad Men.”—Library Journal

Awards and Honors 

Stone Cold Dead
2016 Anthony Award Finalist for Best Paperback Original
2016 Barry Award Finalist for Best Paperback Original
2016 Lefty Award Finalist for Best World Mystery
2016 Best Historical Fiction/Mystery by The Suspense is Thrilling Me

Cast the First Stone
2018 Anthony Award Finalist for Best Paperback Original
2018 Lefty Award Finalist for Best Mystery Novel
2018 Macavity Award Finalist for Best Historical Mystery

Heart of Stone
2017 Anthony Award Winner for Best Paperback Original
2017 Macavity Award Winner Best Historical Novel Award
2017 Edgar Award Finalist for Best Paperback Original
2017 Lefty Award Finalist for Best Mystery Novel
2017 Edgar Award Finalist for Best Paperback Original
A top 12 Novel by Strand Magazine (2016)
Voted one of nine most unputdownable books by InStyle (2016)

A Stone’s Throw
2019 Anthony Award Finalist for Best Paperback Original
2019 Lefty Award Finalist for Best Mystery Novel
2019 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award Semifinalist


Links to James‘ Website, blog, books, etc.


Website: JamesWZiskin.com

Facebook: /james.ziskin.39

Twitter: @jameswziskin

Goodreads: jameswziskin


Thanks, James, for sharing your book with us!

Don’t miss the chance to read this book!



4 thoughts on “Karen’s Killer Book Bench #Character #Interview, Ellie Stone: TURN TO STONE, An Ellie Stone Mystery (7) by James W. Ziskin #Amateur #Sleuth”

  1. Good morning, James, and welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench. I’m intrigued by Ellie’s story. I thought to be a reporter myself at one time. Chasing the story can be so fascinating. Life took me in different directions. Looking forward to chasing the story with Ellie. Thanks for sharing your story with us today!

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