Sunday, March 24, 2013

Scone Island by Frederick Ramsay

Frederick Ramsay's Ike Schwartz mysteries continue to get better and better. I've been a fan since reading the first one, Artscape. This time, Ramsay's CIA operative turned sheriff is a target of unknown assassins. And, he and his fiancée, Ruth Dennis, are on their own on Scone Island.

Ike Schwartz, Sheriff of Picketsville, Virginia, a small community in the Shenandoah Valley, knows Ruth is going stir crazy. She's still in a neck brace followed a terrible car accident, and she's been through a rough time recently as President of the local university. So, they pack up and head to an island in Maine that Ruth inherited from her aunt. The island has no electricity, water, or phone, a perfect place to go so no one can contact them. Neither of them want to hear from Charlie Garland, a friend at the CIA who always seems to rope Ike into assisting him. No one can reach them on that island, not even Charlie, who desperately wants to tell Ike that three other operatives have died or disappeared, and Ike might be next. And, one of them died on the island that Ike and Ruth see as a refuge.

Ramsay's Scone Island is a tightly written mystery with a story that circles closer and closer to Ike and Ruth as Ike realizes they are a target. The story is told so the reader sees Ike and Ruth on that island while Charlie desperately tries to find answers and reach Ike. Despite the suspense as the story takes aim at Ike, there is humor as well. The conversations between Ike and Ruth are witty and clever, fun to read. And, Charlie has become a beloved character over the course of this series. "He wondered if... he wasn't being overly cautious, paranoid even. He dismissed the thought. After all, he drew his paycheck from the CIA. Of course he was paranoid. It was in his job description."

Ike and Charlie, fortunately, are both shrewd and paranoid. Once Ike realizes he may be a target, it's his precautions that could save him and Ruth. Or, they could be sitting ducks on Scone Island.

The early books in this series are a little slow at times, but they are clever puzzles. Over the course of the series, Frederick Ramsay's writing has shown an increased confidence. Ike and Ruth are evenly matched in intellect, two characters who challenge each other. I recommend that readers start at the beginning. Get to know Ike Schwartz, Ruth Dennis, Charlie Garland, and Ike's sheriff's department in Picketsville. The people and the clever conversations will bring you back time after time to this fascinating series. Anyone  who starts with Artscape will find Scone Island to be a perfect escape, for the reader, if not for Ike and Ruth.

Frederick Ramsay's website is

Scone Island by Frederick Ramsay. Poisoned Pen Press. 2012. ISBN 9781464200533 (hardcover), 253p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Jane R said...

Yet another author I'm not familiar with. I've been alternating back and forth from cozies to more intense books and have begun to find many of the cozies lacking in appeal. It sounds like this author maybe more of what I'm looking for right now.

Lesa said...

I really like this series, Jane. As I said, it just continues to get better.

Karen C said...

Another author new to me as well. This is a fantastic review, Lesa.

Carol N Wong said...

This one sounds great. I like to mix up my reading with memoirs, contempory, thrillers, and cozies.

"Variety is the spice of Life!"

Lesa said...

Thanks, Karen & Carol. I hope you enjoy the series, if you try it.