...here he stood in the sweltering Shenandoah Valley, his shirt already damp at nine-thirty in the morning and a whole day ahead of him. Sheriff Ike Schwartz, duly elected by the people and sworn to enforce the laws of the United States, the State of Virginia, the County of Rockbridge and the incorporated town of Picketsville. He was also expected to bend those laws here and there, overlook the kids with a keg in Craddock's woods, the incestuous family of Craddock himself, and turn a blind eye to the broken speed limits, parking violations, and certain cash transactions entered into by members of the Town Council. An easy life, all in all. He reckoned as negligible the number of serious crimes, difficult cases, or dangerous situations he experienced. And then...
Small-town sheriffs come in all shapes and sizes, but Ike Schwartz, who dominates Ramsay's solid debut, is both engaging and extravagantly overqualified for the job. Ike retreats to his hometown of Picketsville, Va., and wins the job of sheriff after a personal disaster in a botched CIA operation. In quiet Picketsville, Ike's biggest worries are domestic squabbles, speeding tickets and an occasional problem with a Callend College student. It's Callend's superb art collection, valued at half a billion dollars and protected by a state-of-the-art security system, that changes all that. Funded by terrorists, and using a disaffected federal agent, mobsters plan to hijack the collection and hold it for ransom. The smoothly planned operation goes off with several hitches, including a killing and the taking of hostages. Callend president Ruth Harris, who believes Ike to be the stereotypical small-town sheriff, is screaming for "higher" authorities to take charge. Laid-back but decisive, Ike does that, calling on his experience, his country roots and old allies as he matches wits with the savvy professionals who committed the crime. While Ike emerges as the most fully developed character, several secondary characters stand out as well, as Ramsay nicely mixes town and gown, sophisticates and rustics, thugs and masterminds. Ike Schwartz seems destined for a bright future.
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October 05, 2009
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