Category Archives: 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

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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



“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