Monday, June 22, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Choker by Frederick Ramsay

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Choker by Frederick Ramsay. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Choker by Frederick Ramsay

An Ike Schwartz Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-635-2 (1590586352)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-635-8 (9781590586358)
Publication Date: June 2009
List Price: $24.95

Review: Picketsville (Virginia) Sheriff Ike Schwartz takes a vacation to the shores of Chesapeake Bay but that doesn't mean he's not on the job in Choker, the fifth mystery in this series by Frederick Ramsay

Just three days into his break he receives a call from his old friend and former colleague at the CIA, Charlie Garland. Charlie needs a favor. A young pilot, inexperienced in night flying, left an airport in Maryland and flew over the Bay on the foggy night of July 4th. He and his plane disappeared. Nick Reynolds, the pilot and the fiancé of Charlie's niece, left a cryptic message prior to leaving. The FAA and Coast Guard have searched for the plane but have found nothing. Maybe, reasons Charlie, Ike can take a fresh look at the case from his perspective on the Delaware border.

Meanwhile, back in Picketsville, a skull and bones have been found in an age-old sink hole once known as "Passion Pit", now simply the "Kaldron". Acting Sheriff Frank Sutherlin teams up with the Reverend Blake Fisher, who has lost some silver communion chalices recently, to look into it. Has a mysterious cult formed in the local high school?

Ramsay has a real flair for combining a little suspense, a dash of comedy, and a touch of romance into his novels. Choker is no exception. Taking place in a completely different setting than the other books in the series (and in some ways, introducing a different tone as well), it's a real pleasure following Ike on his investigation of the missing pilot and plane, working with (and sometimes in opposition to) a most remarkable cast of characters. It's all the book really needs to keep the reader's attention; the subplot back in Ike's home town is interesting, but adds little of value to the rest of the story.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Choker and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): His pilot’s rating barely a month old, Nick Reynolds drops off the radar at night over the Chesapeake Bay. Investigating agencies call it another tragic pilot error accident. No trace of the plane is found in the Bay’s murky waters.

Ike Schwartz, erstwhile sheriff of Picketsville, on vacation, is approached by Charlie Garland, an old CIA friend, to look into the disappearance. The missing pilot was engaged to Charlie’s niece and the family is not dealing well with the lack of closure. More importantly, Nick, just before his disappearance, had placed a call to Charlie. Was something other than pilot error involved in Nick's disappearance?

Ike accepts the assignment as a favor to Charlie and also because vacations do not work for him. Ike’s wide-eyed entry into a simple missing persons case catapults him into an international thriller √° la Robert Ludlum with intimations of terrorism that might threaten the nation and its leaders. Clandestine operations, angry watermen and out of place dredging spoil complicate Ike’s efforts to unravel the mystery.

While this activity thrusts a reluctant Ike into harm’s way, back in Picketsville, The Rev. Blake Fisher and Acting Sheriff Frank Sutherlin sort out the mystery of the missing communion silver and a possible occult group operating in the high school.

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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