Poisoned Pen Press, July 2004, 24.95, 260 pp.
While CIA operative Ike Schwartz was vacationing with his wife in Europe, he was asked to pick up a package, a simple assignment that ended with the death of Ike's wife, his expulsion from Switzerland and his leaving the CIA. He returns to his hometown Picketsville, Virginia where he is elected the county's sheriff. It is an easy job and for three years, he does little more than answer domestic disturbances and gives out traffic tickets.
One day he is called out to Callend College, a private woman's school, because a $50 million dollar art collection was stolen from an underground vault protected by one of the most sophisticated security systems in the world. The terrorist group the New Jihad has contracted out to the Mafia the job of exchanging the art for diamonds. One of the thieves is an ex-FBI agent, who wants out of the operation when a security guard is killed and two college students are taken hostage. Though Harry works from the inside and Ike uses all his skills and resources, there is little chance that both men will achieve their goals.
Frederick Ramsay's debut novel is well nworth reading because he has a fresh voice that will resonate with readers who like crime thrillers with lots of action and interesting characters. The theft of the artwork brings Ike out of his three-year limbo and he starts a relationship with the college president. The ex-FBI agent is as much a hero as Ike even though he gets no credit for helping the authorities. Let us hope that there will be more novels starring Ike, an intelligent tactician who endears himself to the reader.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner