Category Archives: Ike Schwartz Mysteries

The Vulture

An Ike Schwartz Mystery

Vulture coverA 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.

Posted in Ike Schwartz Mysteries, The Books

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

Scone Island

A new Ike Schwartz mystery!

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.

Posted in Ike Schwartz Mysteries, News and Notes



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

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

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

Continue reading

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



“It’s Mitford with murder”

Waldo Templeton was, at best, a mediocre organist. He was also careless, so his killer was able to follow him to the sanctuary of Stonewall Jackson Memorial Church in Picketsville, VA, and dispatch him. Then the Vicar’s secretary follows Waldo to an early grave.
The Vicar, the Reverend Blake Fisher, sent to Picketsville when his ambition overcame his common sense, had had enough trouble in Philadelphia. He did not need a corpse behind his altar. He did not need his gun to be stolen, and he definitely did not need the local police breathing down his back as a suspect in a double murder.

Aided by the computer wizardry of his newest deputy, Sam (Samantha) Ryder and the country wisdom of Billy Sutherlin, Sheriff Ike Schwartz must sort through false leads, the unsolicited helpfulness of a politically connected parishioner and missing counseling files belonging to Blake’s predecessor. Then the Vicar himself becomes the killer’s third target.

Secrets is a marvelously plotted traditional mystery, set in the hamlet of Picketsville, Virginia and populated with vivid characters you grow to care about in the course of this tightly written novel.
– Julia Spencer-Fleming

With regional police procedurals like this one, Frederick Ramsay will not remain a secret to readers.
– Harriet Klausner

Secrets is the sequel to Ramsay’s first novel, Artscape, featuring Sheriff Ike Schwartz.

Posted in Ike Schwartz Mysteries, The Books



Frederick Ramsay’s debut novel
An Ike Schwartz Mystery

Small-town sheriffs come in all shapes and sizes, but Ike Schwartz, who dominates Ramsay’s solid debut, is both engaging and extravagantly overqualified for the job. Ike retreats to his hometown of Picketsville, Va., and wins the job of sheriff after a personal disaster in a botched CIA operation. In quiet Picketsville, Ike’s biggest worries are domestic squabbles, speeding tickets and an occasional problem with a Callend College student. It’s Callend’s superb art collection, valued at half a billion dollars and protected by a state-of-the-art security system, that changes all that. Funded by terrorists, and using a disaffected federal agent, mobsters plan to hijack the collection and hold it for ransom. The smoothly planned operation goes off with several hitches, including a killing and the taking of hostages. Callend president Ruth Harris, who believes Ike to be the stereotypical small-town sheriff, is screaming for “higher” authorities to take charge. Laid-back but decisive, Ike does that, calling on his experience, his country roots and old allies as he matches wits with the savvy professionals who committed the crime. While Ike emerges as the most fully developed character, several secondary characters stand out as well, as Ramsay nicely mixes town and gown, sophisticates and rustics, thugs and masterminds. Ike Schwartz seems destined for a bright future. -Publishers Weekly, July 19, 2004

“Frederick Ramsay uses a deceptively easy going pace in setting up this thriller, then gradually ratchets up the tension as the stakes grow increasingly higher…The mixture of CIA and FBI expertise, along with country sheriff initiative makes for an exciting read.” — Sally Powers, I Love A Mystery Newsletter

“…solid debut …. Ramsay nicely mixes town and gown, sophisticates and rustics, thugs and masterminds. Ike Schwartz seems destined for a bright future.” — Publisher’s Weekly

“Ramsay spins a masterful tale full of suspense of the nail-biting variety. His characters, both male and female, are well-drawn, and the portrait of small-town life realistic. This is a first novel, and a very good read.” — Mystery Morgue

Posted in Ike Schwartz Mysteries, The Books