Drowning Barbie

An Ike Schwartz Mystery

Drowning-Barbie-finalEthyl Smut, everyone agreed, deserved to die. Drugs, child abuse, a life wasted, but murder is murder and killers must be brought to justice.So, when a second body is unearthed in her shallow grave, and the town’s worst nightmare in the person of George LeBrun also find their way onto Ike’s desk so to speak, things get messy fast. Then there is Ethyl’s missing daughter, Darla, who could testify against some important people if she were found. And as if Ike hadn’t enough on his plate, Karl Hedrick and Sam arrive to investigate the source of the second body and it’s like old home week in Picketsville. Finally, there is the “Never-ending Story” of Ike and Ruth’s engagement that friend and foe alike insist be settled one way or another.

Published February 4th 2014 by Poisoned Pen Press

ISBN: 1464202141

Posted in Ike Schwartz Mysteries, The Books

Holy Smoke

Holy Smoke by Frederick Ramsay

Holy Smoke
A Novel by Frederick Ramsay
Out Now!

29 CE, Jerusalem. The Holy of Holies in the Temple is a place that no man may enter, save for the High Priest, and even then on the rarest of occasions. But when a corpse is found in that sacred place, badly burned, the High Priest is certain that whoever he was, the blasphemer has been struck down by an angry God. Rabban Gamaliel, the chief rabbi, is less sure, and sets out, with the assistance of his friend, the physician Loukas, to find the truth, no matter what it may be. But it seems that the truth is more far-reaching than anyone could have guessed.

Posted in Jerusalem Stories, The Books

The Eighth Veil: A Jerusalem Mystery

Now Available!
The Eighth Veil: A Jerusalem Mystery 

A murdered servant girl is found in the palace of King Herod Antipas. The prefect, Pontius Pilate, is in attendance. The populace has already been buzzing over the brutal death of one of their prophets, John, known familiarly as the Baptizer, and scandal is in the air.

Pilate wants no trouble and insists that there be an independent investigation into the murder. But Antipas will have none of Pilate’s men in the palace, and Pilate doesn’t trust Antipas. So Pilate turns to Gamaliel, the chief rabbi and head of the Sanhedrin, and coerces him to do the detective work. Gamaliel is a Talmudic scholar, not a sleuth, and he at first struggles; however, he is soon won over to the assignment as he learns more of the dead girl’s background and that of the other major players in the drama, particularly Antipas’ foster brother, Menahem. Soon, Gamaliel, in Sherlockian fashion, begins to fit the pieces together, or, as his ”Watson” Loukas says, ”strips the veils from his personal Salome.” Pilate, in spite of his impatience with the pace and direction of the investigation, is rewarded when it turns out that the girl is not the mere servant that everyone had assumed.

Meanwhile, the Battle of Actium and the fascinating histories of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Herod the Great, Mark Antony, and Augustus Caesar become critically entwined with the investigation. And the figure of Jesus, the rabbi from Nazareth, with his ragged band of enthusiasts and his habit of annoying Caiaphas, the High Priest, moves enigmatically in the background.

Released February 7, 2012

Posted in Jerusalem Stories, The Books


A new Ike Schwartz Book!

Ruth Harris, Sheriff Ike Schwartz’s fiancée, is involved in a near fatal automobile accident. But Ike is convinced the crash was rigged. Even though he is embroiled in a close election, has no jurisdiction over the investigation, and can find no support in the usual law enforcement community, he places himself on leave goes rogue to instigate and seek the person or persons responsible for putting Ruth in a coma.

His efforts attract help from unexpected and irregular sources. Old friends in the covert community step up, covert help from his loyal staff combine to help. It is a journey which takes him first to State’s Rights organizations, then to zealots and dissident academics before it finally ends at home in Picketsville.

Along the way Charlie Garland connects with Eden Saint Claire, his father manipulates the re-election campaign, and the folks at the Crossroads Diner cheer him on.

“The seventh Ike Schwartz outing…combines high-tech detection with routine sleuthing to reach a surprising and satisfying conclusion.” —Booklist

“Fred Ramsay has the knack for combining serious crime, folksy dialogue, and extremely likable characters. Give the series a try and you will want to spend more time in Picketsville.” —Steve Shadow Schwartz

Posted in Ike Schwartz Mysteries, The Books

REAPERS – A Botswana Mystery

A corpse is found in Botswana’s Chobe National Park. The cause of death for the male victim was a gunshot. Chobe National Park game ranger Sanderson and police officer Kgabo Modise team up to investigate the homicide.

Sanderson’s mind is not on the case as her son is dying of pneumonia caused by AIDS. On the other hand, Modise is euphoric about the opportunity to use his FBI trained skills. He knows he is expendable to work this case as his superiors are more focused on the World Cup overflow from host South Africa that could lead to a crime wave especially smuggling.

Reapers Fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective series may be interested in a very different take on Botswana in Ramsay’s second mystery set in that country (after 2009′s Predators). When the body of a man who’s been shot to death turns up in the Chobe National Park, female game ranger Sanderson, whose son is dying of AIDS-related pneumonia, ends up investigating the crime along with Kgabo Modise, an American-trained police officer seeking to apply the expertise he acquired from the FBI. Modise’s supervisors are more concerned with the prospect that the upcoming World Cup matches in neighboring South Africa will lead to an increase in smuggling. Ramsay complicates the plot a bit more than necessary with a Russian gangster and a cult that believes a compound called orgonite can heal the Earth, but his dark world view is a nice contrast to Smith’s.  Publishers Weekly (Dec.)

Out NOW!
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Posted in Botswana Mysteries, The Books

Eye of the Virgin

Ike Schwartz is the sheriff of Picketsville, a small town not far from Washington, D.C. A former CIA agent, Ike remains connected to the Agency through a friend who sometimes still involves him in cases on the side. Ike is also courting Ruth, the fiercely independent president of the town’s new university. All this is usually enough to bring some interesting conflicts Ike’s way.

A new one arises when a body is found in Picketsville’s urgent-care clinic, a body sitting in a chair but dead for hours. Perhaps not coincidentally, there is also a break-in at the house of a new university faculty member whose expertise lies in icons. Can a specific icon called the Virgin of Tenderness be the spark to these crimes? Ike figures that any spycraft contained in the picture would be decades old. Or would it?

“The sixth in this series has Ramsay’s trademark folksy touch, a well-rounded cast of characters, and brisk and believable dialogue, this time with an international scope. Ike Schwartz’s outings just keep getting better.” — Booklist

“Sure-footed plotting and easy banter make Ramsay’s sixth Sheriff Ike mystery (Choker, 2009, etc.) a brisk, entertaining read.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Mixing down-home police work, CIA maneuvering, and FBI finagling in this timely tale of terrorism, Ramsay comes up aces with his sixth outing (after Choker).” — Library Journal

” With folksy charm and dollops of humor, Ramsay crafts a tale of international intrigue in which the past and present make poor bedfellows. Fans of Ruth and Ike’s blossoming romance will find plenty to cheer about.” — Publisher’s Weekly

Posted in Ike Schwartz Mysteries, The Books


An Ike Schwartz Mystery

Nick Reynolds, his pilot’s rating barely a month old, drops off the radar at night over the Chesapeake Bay. Investigating agencies call it another tragic pilot error accident. No trace of the plane is found in the Bay’s murky waters.

Ike Schwartz, erstwhile sheriff of Picketsville, on vacation, is approached by Charlie Garland, an old CIA friend, to look into the disappearance. The missing pilot was engaged to Charlie’s niece and the family is not dealing well with the lack of closure. More importantly, Nick, just before his disappearance, had placed a call to Charlie moments leading him to conclude something more than pilot error might be involved in the disappearance.

Read Chapter 1 (pdf)

Posted in Ike Schwartz Mysteries, The Books

Predators: A Botswana Mystery

Predators: A Botswana Mystery

Leo Painter is the CEO of Earth Global, a large energy, mining and real-estate development firm. He and his party of company executives are traveling in Botswana to consult with the government of Botswana about accessing their extractable resources. Meanwhile, Sekoa, an aging, mortally ill lion, is being forced out by younger rivals and hyenas on the Botswana plains. The parallel stories unfold against the political and social backdrop of a modernizing Botswana.


“A bit rougher-edged than Alexander McCall Smith’s genteel “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series, this mystery will still attract his fans and those who like Michael Stanley’s Detective Kubu series (e.g., The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu ).” –Library Journal of Predators

“Through parallel stories, Ramsay’s clever stand-alone shows the ruthlessness of the business and the animal worlds without resorting to gimmickry. Ramsay (Impulse) matches keen characterizations with an obvious affection for Botswana, a complicated country that’s more than Alexander McCall Smith’s “quaint mysteries,” as one character observes.” –Publishers Weekly of Predators

Predators come in all forms in this stand-alone mystery by the author of the Ike Schwartz series. When Leo Painter, CEO of Earth Global, travels to Botswana to assess that country’s natural resources, Painter’s COO schemes to acquire enough stock in the company to take command. Ramsay parallels the story of these corporate predators with that of the real thing: an ailing lion, called Sekoa by the Botswanese, who teeters on the edge of losing his pride to a younger, healthier challenger. Painter, even with heart disease, is healthier than the AIDS-inflicted Sekoa, yet the CEO faces multiple challengers, including his bumbling stepson, who is urged on by his slutty wife to claim his just deserts. The law of the jungle, as portrayed here, is more straightforward than human behavior, and animals are altogether more admirable than people. There’s nothing subtle about the analogy Ramsay draws between animal and human predators, but his descriptions of the vivid landscape and its inhabitants win the day. An unusual, sometimes clumsy, but finally engaging mystery. –Michele Leber


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Posted in Botswana Mysteries, The Books

Stranger Room

Stranger Room
An Ike Schwartz Mystery!

Buy it now from Ramsay Books!

Frederick Ramsay. Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (268p) ISBN 978-1-59058-535-1
Two locked-room murders, nearly 150 years apart, confound Sheriff Ike Schwartz of Picketsville, Va., in Ramsay’s suspenseful fourth regional mystery (after 2007’s Buffalo Mountain). Schwartz discovers that both crimes, with sinister undertones of Poe, occurred at the antebellum-era Lydell mansion. The estate’s owner, Jonathan Lydell IV, is distraught to find his renovated “stranger room” (a guest room with its own outside entrance) soiled by death and the intrusion of law enforcement. While Schwartz and acting deputy Karl Hedrick (on loan from the FBI) contend with Lydell’s condescension and racism, they’re soon distracted by a growing meth epidemic, vandalism and even another death in Picketsville. Ramsay skillfully weaves historical fact into his story, all the while blending brisk action with excellent characterization. Schwartz has matured throughout the series, and readers will eagerly await his next adventure. (Aug.) -Publishers Weekly

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Posted in Ike Schwartz Mysteries, The Books

Buffalo Mountain

An Ike Swartz Mystery
Available Now from Poisoned Press and through this website

Buy the Book!

The third Ike Schwartz mystery finds the Picketsville, Virginia, sheriff (and former CIA agent) in a bit of a quandary. A dead body that’s appeared just inside the town limits looks like it belongs to Alexei Kamarov, a Russian spy who supposedly died several years ago. But the ID on the body identifies him as a member of the notorious Harris clan, who are well known for feudin’ and fightin’ with another family, the Sutphins (kind of like the Hatfields and McCoys). Ike decides to investigate both possibilities simultaneously, assigning his deputy, Whaite Billingsly, and his IT tech, the beautiful Sam Ryder, to follow the Harris lead. Meanwhile Ike hits up his former CIA colleagues for intel on the Kamarov connection. Ramsay demonstrates once again that he is a superb storyteller, adroitly mixing the spy and small-town mystery genres and shocking us with one walloping big surprise midway through the book. An excellent entry in this still-young but steadily improving series.

– David Pitt
(Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved)

Posted in Ike Schwartz Mysteries, The Books

Judas: The Gospel of Betrayal

The boy Judas Iscariot struggles to understand his mother’s god. Despairing, he becomes a survivor in the streets of the first century Roman empire. Later, determined to avenge the wrongs committed against his mother and sister, he returns to join the rebels led by Barabbas, only to be betrayed again. Broken, he is brought to the Zealots at Qumran and eventually to the Rabbi Jesus. During this journey he discovers God and is baptized into messianic anticipation. His enthusiasm for revolution leads him to out-guess God. He proceeds down a path that will result in a difficult and fateful choice.

Book Club/Study guide also available

“If there’s any complaint to be made about the book, it’s that it’s too short, especially at the end, where readers will want to hear more about the familiar cast of characters. Ramsay’s observations about the roles of women in biblical society make the novel a good choice for book clubs.” — Booklist

“A refreshing take on a story we all thought we knew.” - John Maddox Roberts

Posted in Jerusalem Stories, The Books


Frank Smith, famed writer of murder mysteries, boards Southwest Airlines heading from Phoenix to Baltimore. His goal is his 50th class reunion at Scott Academy, but behind him he leaves the highly suspicious disappearance of his wife into apparent thin air four years ago and the relentless quest of Officer Ledezma whose impulse is that Smith has killed her and buried the body.

But another mystery awaits Frank at Scott–a mystery 25 years old. A group of young boys walked from the campus into the woods — and disappeared. What could have happened to them? Who better than he to probe the mystery? In doing so, he not only relives his own boyhood when his father was the upright head of Scott’s English Department, but that of the classmates of the missing boys, some of whom are back at Scott now for their 25th.

“superb, perfectly paced”
One of the 100 Best Books of the Year! -Publishers Weekly

Seldom in crime fiction does one meet lead characters as likable as Smith and his long-lost friend/new love interest, Rosemary Mitchell. Both are “pushing seventy” but try to solve the various mysteries with the style, audacity and intelligence of a Sun City version of Nick and Nora Charles.
Publishers Weekly

… a delightful escape into fiction at its best!
– Teri Davis on Dorothy L

In his third published novel and first standalone, Frederick Ramsay proves himself to be an author worth watching.
–Woodstock Crimespree Magazine

Posted in The Books