Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Review of Styx and Stone

styx_coverStyx and Stone
James W. Ziskin
Seventh Street Books
trade paper 285 pp
US $15.95 Can $17.00
Amazon Barnes and Noble
ebook $11.99 Kindle  Nook

Styx and Stone is a period mystery set in the first couple of weeks of 1960. The cover of this novel says “An Ellie Stone Mystery”. That’s an indication that this is the first volume of a series. This is a good thing.

Ellie Stone isn’t a private investigator. Rather she’s a journalist, but of the hardboiled variety. She drinks and gets laid as much as her male counterparts in the genre. Where she differs from them is that she doesn’t get into shoot-outs, engage in fisticuffs, or end up being knocked unconscious by a blow to the head.

Ellie and her estranged father are the remaining members of the Stone family. Her mother died of illness a few years back, but not before her brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. Her father is a Dante scholar at Columbia, one of the foremost in the world. Ellie is working as a reporter at a small town newspaper up north.

Ellie gets a call telling her that her father was attacked in his study at home. He’s in a coma, and the prognosis isn’t good. So Ellie returns home to keep vigil beside his bed. What she discovers is the manuscript of his latest book is missing. And one of his colleagues was found dead in his bathtub the day after her father was attacked, having apparently knocked his radio into the tub with him.  Being a good reporter, Ellie begins to ask questions about both the attack on her father and the death of his colleague. Continue reading

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas.  Here’s hoping yours is merrier than the law allows.

Spend the day with a gumshoe or a femme fatale.  Have some booze with a broad.  But leave the gats and bullets at home.  They’ll keep until the day after Christmas.

No matter which side of the bars (or law) you’re celebrating on, have a Merry Christmas.  And remember, while the sound you hear you hear up on the roof may be someone trying to enter your house, it probably isn’t a second-story man.


Different Christmas posts are up at Adventures Fantastic, Futures Past and Present, and Dispatches From the Lone Star Front.

A Pair of Markham PI Novellas

Death and the Dancing ShadowsBefore he become known as a western writer, James Reasoner wrote mysteries.  A number of these were novellas that featured a PI named Markham and were published in Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine in the early 1980s.  Back in the summer, before Google started messing with me and I decided to launch my own site, James began publishing them as stand-alone ebooks. I read the first one, The Man in the Moon, and enjoyed it. It was a traditional PI yarn, and I’m always up for one of those.

Reasoner published two more. I bought them, and has been typical of this past year, they sat on my ereader until recently. I read those two yesterday, and enjoyed them.  Here’s what I thought. Continue reading