|Posted on June 2, 2016 at 8:00 AM|
In the waning days of a lazy August holiday in 1961, Ellie Stone is enjoying a bright Adirondack cottage country morning.
Nearby, two men plummet to their deaths just a few feet short of the water at a dangerous diving pool. A tragic accident, it seems, but the police quickly conclude that the two victims, one a stranger to the lake and the other a teenaged boy from a nearby music camp, surely didn’t know each other. So how did they come to die together?
Wading into a labyrinth of free-love intellectuals, charismatic evangelicals, and small town prejudices, Ellie’s investigation forces her to navigate old grudges, lost ideals, and betrayed loves. As usual, she sticks her nose where it’s not wanted, rattling nerves and putting herself in danger. But this time her heart may also be at risk.
This is the first Ellie Stone mystery I've read. I like Ellie, and I really enjoyed the huge cast of characters that are part of this book. I do wish I had read the other books in this series beforehand, as I believe I would have had a better grounding in how Ellie looks at the world and deals with her investigations. There were many times where the death of her father and brother was mentioned in the course of her investigation, and knowing details of their deaths would likely have explained why she approached things the way she did, which I found myself questioning many times.
I did enjoy, however, "listening" to characters talk about their lives in 1961 - their mindsets less than 20 years after WWII and their changing viewpoints around a woman's place in the world, home, and family. I also enjoyed the author's wonderful descriptions of the lake and small town close by to Ellie's aunt's cottage. It made me nostalgic for childhood summers.
The mystery itself twisted and weaved like a slippery fish in the lake. Every time Ellie questioned someone new, or questioned a suspect a second or even third time, the parameters of the plot changed. I got a little sea sick. I also had a hard time accepting that the dalliance she was having throughout the book, a fling of less than one week, could wreck such havoc on her investigative skills. I'm not too old to remember summer flings, and they were never taken quite so seriously.
What I did enjoy about the mystery though was the new information about the characters that arose with each questioning. It was creative and entertaining. It gave the characters a very realistic background for that period of time when the world really was changing at a rapid pace.
If you want a cottage read that will take you back to vacations in the 60s and summer flings, with an interesting cast of characters, and a mystery thrown in, you'll enjoy Heart of Stone.
You can get your own copy from the publisher and at amazon.ca when it's released next Tuesday, June 7th.
All the best, your GG