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Artscape    by Frederick Ramsay order for
by Frederick Ramsay
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Thrilling. Exciting. Suspenseful. Fast-paced. Tightly written. All the action a reader could want. Artscape is all of these and more. Frederick Ramsay keeps his myriad story lines clean and clear, and then weaves them all together for a bang-up ending.

Former CIA agent Isaac Schwartz is now a sheriff in rural Picketsville, Virginia. The intricately planned theft of a $500,000,000 art collection stuns the small college where it was housed. An unexpected murder leads to hostage taking. The art collection is threatened with immolation if the thieves' demands are not met. Schwartz is an easy protagonist to like. He is forceful and sure of his abilities. Not about to let anyone push him around. Knows when to accept help when it's needed. And is willing to listen to other people's points of view. His adversary, the President of the college, makes a good foil for him. The author strikes a blow against male dominance in the workforce. Women readers will cheer men will wax apologetic.

It's hard to believe Artscape is a first novel. Ramsay is a doctor, also an educator, an Episcopal priest, a one-time Associate Dean, and he has hosted a TV spot in Baltimore. He turned to writing and has produced a first-rate adventure. I hope to see more of Sheriff Ike Schwartz.

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