Jonathan Stone


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Please welcome our November featured author: Jonathan Stone!



Synopsis and Review of Breakthrough:

Breakthrough by Jonathan Stone

 Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN: 0312291132

Forty year-old Tom Hartley lives a simple and lonely existence.  He cares for his invalid mother, and takes the train to the city each day to work in the printing business left to him by his father.  But one day, it all changes.  Sitting on the train across from a beautiful woman, he inadvertently glances at her paperwork, noting some inside information that can make him a fast buck.  Acting on the information, he has no idea that his isolated life is about to be thrown into a tailspin of emotion, heat, and danger.  Upon discovering that the beautiful woman has suddenly died, he can’t help but feel a huge loss at her passing, and an overwhelming desire to find out all he can about her.     

Meanwhile, Julian Palmer, the homicide detective of previous novels, is on maternity leave tending to a baby not her own, and getting restless.  So when she’s called in to help investigate an insurance case involving Tom and his mother, she jumps at the chance.  Soon she too is involved in a mystery far and above anything she’s ever encountered before.  Soon she too is living a life of involvement and heat and danger.  

In the genre of mystery, this latest from Stone is nothing less than a brilliant masterpiece.  Each sentence is so perfectly drafted, that you may find yourself reading some of them a second time, just for another opportunity to revel in their rhythmic precision.  Combining a puzzle of genius proportions, along with questions of existence, isolation, becoming and ending, this tale has it all.  Stone takes on the corporate world with an unblinking eye, revealing the bitter truths behind the smoke and mirrors that comprise the corporate world, and more frighteningly, how most blindly follow this inane way of living.  And inside of all this is a beautiful love story that is both poignant and refreshingly honest.  Don’t miss this one, it’s the most luminous and breathtaking read of the year.



1.  What a diabolical scheme you’ve created in your last book, wherever did you get the idea?

I do commute every day from Connecticut to Manhattan, and I confess I have-every now and then!-looked at what the passenger next to me is reading or working on, and I began to consider the possibilities if I happened to see something, well, significant.  The idea uncoiled from there.


2.  Tom Hartley is such a fully-realized character, and one of the most realistic I’ve read in a while, where does he come from?

I'm glad you like Tom Hartley.  I like him too.  I think what's
appealing about him is his basic human decency.  He's an average guy caught up in increasingly "un-average" circumstances, and I think our hearts go out to him for that reason too.  He has an Everyman appeal. 


3.  Tell us more about Julian Palmer, she’s also a great character, and a woman to boot!  How do you write so convincingly from a woman’s point of view?

When I began the series with The Cold Truth, I gravitated to a
female protagonist largely for the greater ease with which I could create a sense of threat to her.  Julian Palmer was a young intern in that first book.  In the first sequel, The Heat of Lies, the tables are turned, and she has more power, but that ominous sense of threat still hangs above her.  Julian has a fierce, somewhat reckless independence that readers find appealing-and I'll confess, the readers I hear from are overwhelmingly


4.  What is it you enjoy most about the genre of mystery, and why did you choose to write this particular type of fiction?

With The Cold Truth, my first book, I didn't know I'd written a
mystery!-I thought I'd written a thriller.  I had been writing literary
fiction, not getting very far, and feeling the zero balance in my kids' college fund.  Let me try something commercial, I thought, and I waited until I had what I thought was a strong story.  Pleasantly surprising to me, I discovered I really enjoyed writing this kind of fiction. 


5.  Tell us a bit about your writing habits.

I write on the commuter train.   I have an hour commute each way,
two hours a day.  I'm pretty disciplined-don't read the paper, don't talk, don't sleep.  But hey-I've got three novels to show for it. 


6.  When you write, what is your primary aim?

I'm trying to craft something polished and professional-something with craft enough to aspire to art.  Whether it ultimately finds a publisher, an audience, appreciative reviews-I want all that, of course, but it's all secondary, honestly, to creating something that satisfies me with its structure, story, professionalism, and craft.


7.  The usual question….when did you know you wanted to write?

I don't know precisely when I knew I wanted to write, simply because I've always written.  I always had some aptitude for written expression, but more importantly, have always found something satisfying about it-a unique species of satisfaction I don't find elsewhere. 

8.  Any great influences, current or past, that you’d like to share with us?

I remember picking up a Tom McGuane novel, and reading a few pages of it, and saying, "Whoa, you can do this with fiction!?"  I've always been a fan of Updike and Cheever, of their use of the language, and their elegant tone.  As far as genre fiction, Dennis Lehane has a depth and soul that put him in a class by himself, though I also like Michael Connelly a whole lot.

9. What is the most difficult thing you find about writing?

I wish I had a little more time to write-that's the toughest part of
my writing life right now.

10.  What kind of cunning and devious tale can we expect from you next time?

I have a couple of projects ready to show to publishers which, while they are commercial fiction-mystery/thrillers-are not, alas, Julian Palmer novels.  But after her latest case, maybe Julian deserves a break!



Jonathan Stone is a graduate of Yale, where he was a Scholar of the House in fiction writing, and twice won the John Hubbard Curtis Prize for Best Imaginative Writing.  He makes his living as a writer in the advertising business, having created campaigns and commercials for Mercedes-Benz,Mitsubishi, 3M, and Microsoft, among others.  He lives in Connecticut., with
his wife and two children. 

The Cold Truth and The Heat of Lies, his first and second novels, were written largely on his train commute between Connecticut and Manhattan.  The New York Times Book Review called The Cold Truth a "...bone-chilling first novel...Stone plays cruel and cunning mind games..."  The Boston Globe said, "Stone works the formula brilliantly...A compelling tale...."  Kirkus
Reviews' starred review called the novel "...a chilling little gem with the ferocious logic of a Beethoven quartet."  Publisher's Weekly's starred review praises it as "...a stunning, risk-taking first novel that mystery fans will celebrate."  The Tampa Tribune says: "Warning:: Don't pick up this book if you have only a few minutes to read..." 

Of The Heat of Lies, Publishers Weekly's starred review said, "A stunning sequel follows a brilliant debut...the result is dizzying, dazzling, delightful.  Stone belongs with the elite of current mystery writers.  He should not be missed."  The New York Book Review said "There are abundant rewards . . . in the story's parallel puzzles . . . and in the complex psychology of the characters."  The Chicago Tribune noted, "Audacity can be
a welcome ingredient in a mystery, especially when it's coupled with a ferocious literary talent . . it's a great, devilish pleasure . . . "  And Kirkus Reviews opined, "Stone creates the kind of people who can make a reader turn pages."

The Cold Truth
has been translated into German and Japanese, and is available in hardcover and paperback.  Its sequel, The Heat of Lies, is in hardcover and paperback as well. Breakthrough, Stone's third mystery featuring Julian Palmer, has just been published in hardcover. All are from
St. Martin's Press.