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by Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen Press, July 2004
260 pages
ISBN: 1590581229

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When I received ARTSCAPE, I was intrigued by the author's background. Frederick Ramsay is an MD and an ordained Episcopal priest. The book is the story of an art heist in a small southern town, a town in which most of the population is Baptist but they elected a Jewish sheriff, and I figured that it would be something I would have fun pulling apart. I was wrong.

Ike Schwartz returns to his home town of Picketsville, Virginia after a very bad experience in Vienna. He hasn't been home for any length of time since he graduated from High School and went off to college in Boston. He joined the CIA and stayed away from Picketsville. He was in Vienna on holiday with his fiancee when he was asked to take on a very simple mission at a coffee house, and he accepted. His lover was shot to death and Ike quit the Agency and went back to Boston, where a psychiatrist finally told him to stop running and go home. He did and is elected Sheriff.

The local women's college houses a very valuable art collection in a 1950s-style bunker, with all the latest security devices protecting it, but someone wants to steal it. The Board of Directors of the art collection votes to move the collection out of the college and ship it to New York. The thieves have less than one week to get the works of art out of the bunker and into the hands of their employers.

Ramsay has written an exciting thriller, depicting the subtle anti-semitism of the south, a very clever art heist with an even more clever double-cross, and a picture of a principled man who has begun to come to terms with himself. This is his first crime novel. I hope it won't be his last.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, July 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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