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February 1962: Tony Eberle has just scored his first role in a Hollywood movie, and the publisher of his hometown newspaper in upstate New York wants a profile of the local boy who's made good. Reporter Ellie Stone is dispatched to Los Angeles for the story. But when she arrives on set to meet her subject, Tony has vanished. The director is apoplectic, Tony’s agent is stumped, and the producer is found murdered.
Ellie is on the story, diving headfirst into a treacherous demimonde of Hollywood wannabes, beautiful young men, desperately ambitious ingénues, panderers, and pornography hobbyists. Then there are some real movie stars with reputations to protect. To find the killer, Ellie must separate the lies from the truth, unearthing secrets no one wants revealed along the way. But before she can solve the producer’s murder, she must locate Tony Eberle.
In the waning days of a lazy August holiday, Ellie Stone is enjoying a bright Adirondack-lake morning. Nearby, two men plummet to their deaths on the rocks below, just a few feet short of the water of a dangerous diving pool. A tragic accident, it seems. But the state police quickly establish that the two victims--one, a stranger to the lake and, the other, a teenaged boy from a nearby band camp--surely didn't know each other. That anomaly is strange enough, but what really perplexes Ellie is the out-of-place station wagon parked twenty yards from the edge of the cliff.
Wading into a slippery morass of gone-to-ground fellow travelers, free-love intellectuals, rabid John Birchers, and charismatic evangelicals, Ellie must navigate old grudges and Cold War passions, lost ideals and betrayed loves. She sticks her nose where it's unwanted, rattling nerves and putting herself in jeopardy. But this time, it's her heart that's at risk.
December 21, 1960, the shortest day of the year: Fifteen-year-old Darleen Hicks slips away from her school bus as it idles in the junior-high parking lot, waiting to depart. Moments later the bus rumbles away without her, and she is never seen again.
New Year’s Eve 1960: The small upstate town of New Holland, New York, is in the grips of a severe cold snap, when Ellie Stone receives a late-night caller—Irene Metzger, the grieving mother of Darleen Hicks. She tells Ellie that the local police won’t help her, that they believe Darleen has run off with some older boy and will return when she is ready. Irene has read Ellie’s stories in the paper on an earlier murder case and believes Ellie is her last hope.
Ellie Stone is on a chilling journey to a place of uncertainty, loss, teenage passion, and vulnerability—where Ellie’s questions are unwanted and her life is in danger.
Ellie Stone is a professed modern girl in 1960s' upstate New York, a young reporter playing by her own rules while searching for a killer and putting her own life at risk.
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. Ellie Stone, twenty-four-year-old reporter for a small local daily, stands at a crossroads in her career and in her life. Alone in the world, battling her own losses and her own demons, Ellie is ready to pack it in and return to New York a failure. Then she hears the dispatch over the police scanner.
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 is the first reporter on the scene. The investigation provides a rare opportunity to rescue her drowning career, 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, she makes some desperate enemies, who want her off the case. Dead if necessary.