Thursday, April 10, 2014

Drowning Barbie by Frederick Ramsay

Frederick Ramsay's Ike Schwartz mysteries are some of my favorite police procedurals. Ike, former CIA
agent turned small-town sheriff, is a shrewd judge of character. And, the books are filled with unusual characters, from all the deputies in the sheriff's department, to Ike and his love, Ruth Harris, who happens to be President of Callend University in Picketsville. In the midst of serious crime, it's Ike and Ruth who provide the comic relief in Ramsay's latest book, Drowning Barbie.

When Ethyl Smut's body was found in the woods, "Too many people believed she deserved it." There wasn't one person in Picketsville that seemed to mourn her, unless it was George LeBrun, a brutal convicted felon and arsonist. Ethyl had a history of drug busts for using and distributing, and LeBrun was the dealer. Everyone hoped the second body found in the woods was George. At the same time, people were worried about Ethyl's daughter, Darla. The teenager was missing, and she had seen too much. There were men around who would want Darla dead, too, so she couldn't talk about her years of sexual abuse. 

Ike returned from Las Vegas to face this mess. Two dead bodies, one identified, and a missing teenage girl who was the victim of sexual and drug abuse. And, if that unidentified body isn't George LeBrun, it might be connected to an old FBI case, a troubling situation that brings an agent and his wife, one of Ike's former staff members, back to town. As Ike and his department search for answers, they find themselves stonewalled by women in town who only want to protect the missing Darla. But, the lies and cover-ups can only lead to more trouble.

Cover-ups can lead to trouble, as Ike and Ruth realize when they have to decide how to reveal the results of their recent trip to Las Vegas. Their own schemes add humor to a story that deals with the tragedies of sexual abuse, drugs, violence, and murder.

Frederick Ramsay's books are solid police procedurals as the department interviews witnesses, follows leads, and works to find answers. But, the books have a philosophical bent as well, as evidenced in Ike's conversations with Reverend Blake Fisher. Add in the family nature of the community and sheriff's department, and the humor provided by relationships and some of the more interesting characters. The mixture of all these elements make up one of my favorite police procedural series. Drowning Barbie is one of the strongest entries in this fascinating series.

Frederick Ramsay's website is

Drowning Barbie by Frederick Ramsay. 2014. ISBN 97811464202148 (hardcover), 258p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book.


Linda C said...

I had forgotten about this series. Thanks for the reminder! I really like it and am going to have to pick it up again.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Linda. I just enjoy the characters in this series.