"Fine crime thriller"
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 worth 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.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted June 6, 2004
Snagging a scheme to steal a half-billion dollar art collection, getting between the CIA and Middle Eastern fanatics-all in a dayís work for sheriff Ike Schwartz.... Ike Schwartz thought he could return to his hometown and ditch the demons that pursue him. More than anything, he wanted to blot out the pain and anger that came when his wife of less than a month was gunned down in a CIA foul-up. So he buried himself as sheriff in rural Picketsville, Virginia, a community indistinguishable from any of the hundreds of small towns that hang like beads on Interstate 81 running from Pennsylvania down to Georgia. Aside from its Civil War history, Picketsvilleís only real claim to fame is Callend College, a private womenís school located just within its corporate limits. The college is notable, in turn, for housing one half of the billion dollar Dillon art collection, carefully secured in an underground bunker originally built in the late 1950s as a super bomb shelter. Itís bad news for both Dr. Ruth Harris, the newly hired president of the college, and for a shadowy group whose services have been contracted by Middle Eastern fanatics-The New Jihad-when the collection is scheduled to be removed to New York. The plan is to steal the half billion dollars worth of fine art and statuary, and ransom it back for millions.
With the closure of the facility imminent, the operation must be moved forward, which, in turn, creates unanticipated risks and problems. And everyone dismisses Ike Schwartz as a stereotypical rural sheriff. He is, however, a man with uncommon skills, a tough hide, and a notable past-all of which make an arresting first novel.