- Author: James Ziskin
Read book online «A Stone's Throw by James Ziskin (best sci fi novels of all time .TXT) 📕». Author - James Ziskin
ALSO BY JAMES W. ZISKIN
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Published 2018 by Seventh Street Books®, an imprint of Prometheus Books
A Stone’s Throw. Copyright © 2018 by James W. Ziskin. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, digital, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or conveyed via the internet or a website without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Cover design by Jacqueline Nasso Cooke
Cover image © Getty Images
Cover design © Prometheus Books
This is a work of fiction. Characters, organizations, products, locales, and events portrayed in this novel either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Inquiries should be addressed to
Seventh Street Books
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, New York 14228
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Ziskin, James W., 1960- author.
Title: A stone’s throw : an Ellie Stone mystery / James W. Ziskin.
Description: Amherst, NY : Seventh Street Books, 2018. | Series: Ellie Stone mysteries
Identifiers: LCCN 2018001272 (print) | LCCN 2018003470 (ebook) | ISBN 9781633884205 (ebook) | ISBN 9781633884199 (softcover)
Subjects: LCSH: Reporters and reporting—Fiction. | Women journalists—Fiction. | Murder—Investigation—Fiction. | BISAC: FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Women Sleuths. | FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Historical. | GSAFD: Mystery fiction.
Classification: LCC PS3626.I83 (ebook) | LCC PS3626.I83 S77 2018 (print) | DDC 813/.6—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018001272
Printed in the United States of America
By its very definition, a second chance requires a first failure. A mistake of youth, perhaps. A regretted lapse of judgment, or even an outright, calculated, felonious act. And everything in between. To be sure, the shades along the continuum grow darker moving from left to right, but where is the tipping point? When is the precise moment when we know, without doubt or debate, that an invisible line has been crossed? The distance between right and wrong has no frets—only invisible gradations that modulate the pitch until we realize that it’s something more than off. More than simply sharp or flat. That’s the point where gray turns to black.
To Robert, a plunger who lived big and died young.
Also by James W. Ziskin
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SATURDAY, AUGUST 11, 1962
The flames leapt into the last of the night’s darkness, casting their dancing orange light against the weathered planks of the nearby outbuildings. The fire had engulfed the entire structure—a horse barn—swallowing it whole, from its timber walls to its pitched roof and wrought-iron weathervane at the top.
I watched from a safe distance, shielding my face from the heat with my hands. Deep inside the blaze, boards and beams whistled and popped, crackling as they withered and wasted under the assault of the fire. And when the last three walls collapsed upon themselves, the roof fell and sent a great cartwheeling ball of pyrotechnics skyward, spitting sparks and setting alight the cool August night, just as if day had broken. Then, flattened and starved of its fuel, the fire exhausted itself within minutes. Soon, it could manage little more than a hissing black smoke. All went dark again.
Tempesta, the derelict Sanford Shaw stud farm, consisted of forty structures—barns, stables, outbuildings, and feed sheds—spread over eight hundred acres of rolling meadow adjacent to a wooded grove off Route 67. Bordered by the highway on one side and a stream several hundred yards to the southeast on the other, the farm butted up against the Montgomery County line from the Saratoga side. As such, Tempesta Farm fell under the jurisdiction of the Saratoga County sheriff. Which was why the tall, heavyset figure lumbering toward me came as a surprise. My old pal, Montgomery County sheriff Frank Olney.
“You’re up early on a Saturday,” he said.
“Maybe I didn’t go home last night.”
Frank said nothing. And he didn’t smile either. He didn’t approve of such behavior or, for that matter, jokes about it. His rectitude was one of the traits I liked most about him. And least. Unlike the men who think a ribald story or a pat on the behind is just a little harmless fun—and their birthright as males of the species—Frank Olney always walked right and true on the side of decency. Sure, he was short-tempered, wound as tight as a spring, and partial to short ties and uniforms a size too small, but no honest person ever questioned his integrity. He shot as straight as a die. And that was what I found tiresome about him. He sometimes made me feel like a wretch on the downtown express to hell. But I loved him for never making me feel like prey or a chippy unable to resist his overweight, middle-aged charms. I ran into enough of those types at the newspaper.
“What brings you here?” I asked. “Isn’t this Sheriff Pryor’s territory?”
“I was in the neighborhood,” he said. “I’m ready to help out if he needs a hand.”
“How do you think this happened?”
He stared at the smoldering pile of cinders before us, his lips twisted into a reflective pout. “No electrical storms last night, so that’s not what caused this.”
The distant wail of an approaching siren interrupted Frank’s musings. He wiped his sweating face with his cap. It was a chilly, wet morning, but the barn continued to pump heat.
“That’ll be the Volunteer Fire Department,” he said. “Just in time to save the foundation.”