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When Inspector Modise had time to work his way through the events of that night, he would wonder at how such a violent ending had evolved from his original and simple plan to spy on and then deport Lenka and his people. Perhaps it would have been clearer if he had been raised in the plains of the United States where thunderstorms can, if the conditions are right, turn into deadly tornados which will tear a path of destruction and devastation over miles of land and threaten every living thing in their way. Or, if he had lived close to the sea where the convergence of certain otherwise benign barametrics can produce the “perfect storm” which will race across miles of sea sinking ships and even reordering the very nature of the ocean ecosystem. How was he to know that the presence of a dangerous woman in the person of Irena Davidova, the stubbornness of an American entrepreneur, the unpredictability of a wounded and betrayed hired killer, the fearlessness of an otherwise ordinary game ranger, and the heartlessness of the Bratva culture would all collide and create so much havoc in a few hectic hours on an otherwise ordinary night on the Chobe River?
Launches July, 2106
An Ike Schwartz Mystery
A bomb destructive enough to demolish Ike Schwartz’s car and create a crater in the road and take out the widows on both sides of Main Street for a half a block, sets off alarms in the country’s security agencies. Was this an over the top attempt at a cop killing or domestic terrorism?
Cars and the fatal consequences of getting into and driving off in the wrong one begins a journey that ends in an armed stand-off in Idaho. While bringing bad guys to justice is the one thing Ike has done for years. Facing an armed militia backed by powerful and politically connected men, is something else.
If some banks and businesses, as we are told, are too big to fail, does the same reasoning mean that some people are too connected, too important, or too wealthy to bring to justice? Martin Pangborn, head of the Radical Militia, The Fifty-first Star is such a person and when he turns his anger against Ike, a different equation must be developed to bring him to justice. But sometimes things are not always what they seem, as Pangborn learns to his dismay.
Readers of the Ike Schwartz novels know by now that in this episode as in the previous nine, Ike will ultimately prevail, justice will be done; Ruth will have a lot to say, and the Picketsville Deputies will once again prove themselves.
The Vulture, on the other hand, was something no one was prepared for.
“Ramsay audaciously sets his outstanding third Jerusalem mystery (after 2013’s Holy Smoke) at the very time of Jesus’s arrest. When Pontius Pilate, emperor’s prefect of Judea and overseer of Palestine, is arrested for murdering his rival, Aurelius Decimus, all the evidence is against him. Pilate was caught literally red-handed, covered in blood at the scene of the crime, with his dagger stuck in Decimus’s corpse. Pilate insists he was framed. Since he doesn’t believe he will get justice from his Roman countrymen, he turns to Rabban Gamaliel, chief rabbi of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of first-century Israel. The rabbi’s commitment to justice compels him to accept the case, despite his loathing for his “client” and the consequences to his own standing if his fellow Jews get wind of his role. Meanwhile, the Dagger Men, a sect of Jewish assassins, begin their reign of terror. Ramsay brings the tumult of the time to vivid life while neatly integrating the events leading to Christ’s crucifixion into the whodunit story line. (Dec.)” – Publishers Weekly
An Ike Schwartz Mystery
Ethyl 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
A Novel by Frederick Ramsay
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.
Review from Publisher’s Weekly: Ramsay’s engaging eighth Ike Schwartz mystery (after 2011’s Rogue) takes the ex-CIA agent turned smalltown sheriff of Picketsville, Va., and his university president fiancée, Ruth Dennis, to Maine’s Scone Island for a vacation. With Ruth still recovering from her near-fatal hit-and-run car accident, Ike is determined to guarantee peace, quiet, and wine-induced relaxation. Unfortunately, a recent death on the island has the locals asking Ike for advice and Ruth on the warpath. When old CIA pal Charlie Garland tries to get in touch, Ike issues a communications blackout to family, friends, and colleagues, knowing a call from Charlie always leads to heart-stopping trouble. Silence, however, is not golden but stained red when Ike and Charlie’s former allies start turning up dead across the country. Surefooted prose speeds this well-told tale of greed and betrayal among the nation’s covert elite. Ruth and Ike’s intellectual bickering will amuse literary and history buffs.
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
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
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.)
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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
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)
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