Poisoned Pen Press
Date: July, 2004
it at Amazon
By Frederick Ramsay
of serving as the backdrop for a minor Civil War skirmish, Pickettsville,
Virginia’s main claim to fame is Callender College, a private
women’s school. In turn, Callender is best known for the fact
that the renowned Dillon art collection is housed there under heavy
security. The Dillon family pumps money into Callender to defray
the extensive security and storage costs, and the collection is
a draw for paying art students. Because the school gains so much
of its income directly or indirectly from the Dillon Collection,
College President Ruth Harris is alarmed when the Dillon family
suddenly announces plans to remove the collection of masterpieces.
Pickettsville’s newly-elected sheriff, picks that unhappy
moment to shamble into her office. Ike is a Jew in a predominantly
Baptist town, and though laid back and unhurried, he’s also
a former CIA agent. Ike’s main concern is convincing President
Harris to issue Callender students ID cards so local residents can’t
falsely claim the student discounts offered by local merchants.
President Harris, a devout liberal, is furious at the suggestion,
scolds Ike as a local redneck, and not-so-politely ushers him out
of her office. But then, only days before the art collection is
to be moved, it disappears. Harris is loathe to trust Ike with the
investigation, particularly when it becomes apparent that two students
have vanished with the collection.
Frederick Ramsay has constructed a complex, but plausible tale that
raises enough questions to keep readers turning the pages. Eventually,
Ike’s CIA background comes into play, along with international
terrorists and Mafiosa. Ramsay’s style is witty and fresh;
he has a sharp eye for current social attitudes, and the final,
surprising scenes weave all the threads together.