Artscape: An Ike Schwartz Mystery (Ike Schwartz Mysteries)

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9781590581278: Artscape: An Ike Schwartz Mystery (Ike Schwartz Mysteries)

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, Picketsville’s only real claim to fame is Callend College, a private women’s 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. It’s 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.

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About the Author:

Frederick Ramsay has published fourteen books that range from historicals (The Jerusalem Mysteries), to Africa (The Botswana Mysteries), to police procedurals (The Ike Schwartz Mysteries). In addition, his stand-alone Impulse was named one of the Best 100 Books of the Year in 2006 by Publishers Weekly. He is an iconographer and an accomplished public speaker. He lives and writes in Arizona.

Review:

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

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

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