Once again, Frederick Ramsay brings international issues to Picketsville, Virginia in The Eye of the Virgin. Sheriff Ike Schwartz, who once worked for the CIA, handles these incidents beautifully. It's always a treat to return to Picketsville.
It's an unusual night when there's a break-in at an art professor's house with nothing stolen, and the Picketsville sheriff's department also has to deal with a murder. Somehow, on a busy night, a dead man ended up sitting in the urgent care clinic, and no one noticed him. Most sheriffs wouldn't connect the professor's religious icons with the murder, but most officers don't have Ike Schwartz' background. It seems trouble has followed the professor after he took half the stock of the store he owned with his wife. Ike noticed one little flaw on an icon with the potential to stir up trouble for the entire country.
I have the same respect and fondness for Ike Schwartz that his deputies do. One says, "He sees the significance in things that we miss, and is suspicious of everything." And, Ike doesn't let forces outside of Picketsville push him around. Dealing with a case that could have larger implications, he reiterates his stance. "All we're after is a murderer and a B and E perp...I want this business tied up in a neat bundle and all the spooks, spies, and miscellaneous Federal employees the hell out of here."
It's hard to do justice to Frederick Ramsay's books in reviews. They are complex mysteries involving politics and local crime. But, I continue to return to these books for the great cast of characters, beginning with Ike. He has a relationship with Dr. Ruth Harris, president of the local university that is a joy to read, since it involves verbal sparring, wit, and warmth. And, there is a returning cast of characters in the sheriff's department. Each member of the department has had their turn in the spotlight in the course of the series. It's fun to watch the changes in the relationships in the books.
If you're interested in intriguing plots in small-town mysteries with a wealth of enjoyable characters, I recommend Frederick Ramsay's mysteries. However, don't think of these as cozy mysteries. They're complex stories, and some have implications for world security. The Eye of the Virgin is the most recent treat in the series.
Frederick Ramsay's website is www.frederickramsay.com
The Eye of the Virgin by Frederick Ramsay. Poisoned Pen Press. ©2010. ISBN 9781590587607 (hardcover), 250p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book from the publisher so I could read and review it.