Ramsay, Frederick J.

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Ramsay, Frederick J.

PERSONAL:

Born in Baltimore, MD; married; wife's name Susan; children: Jeff. Education: Washington and Lee University (graduated); University of Illinois, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Surprise, AZ. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, novelist, educator, public speaker, and retired Episcopalian priest. University of Maryland, School of Medicine, researcher and instructor in anatomy, embryology, and histology; served as associate dean. Ordained Episcopal priest, 1971. WMAR-TV, Baltimore, MD, former news host. Worked variously as an insurance salesman, community college instructor, vice president for public affairs, and a tow man and line supervisor at BWI airport in Baltimore. Military service: U.S. Army.

WRITINGS:

Impulse, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2006.

Judas: The Gospel of Betrayal, AuthorHouse (Bloomington, IN), 2007.

Stranger Room, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2008.

"IKE SCHWARTZ" SERIES; NOVELS

Artscape, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2004.

Secrets, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2005.

Buffalo Mountain, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Writer Frederick J. Ramsay is a retired Episcopalian priest and a former instructor in anatomy, embryology, and histology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Ordained in 1971, he worked a variety of jobs, including as associate dean and researcher at the University of Maryland, an insurance salesman, and a supervisor at the Baltimore airport, before becoming a full-time clergyman. When he retired from the ministry, Ramsay turned his attention to writing fiction. Ramsay's diverse professional experiences have had a significant influence on his writing, noted MyShelf.com interviewer BethEllen McKenzie, who remarked: "It is not the least bit surprising that his fictional works have rich, deep personalities, even for minor characters."

In 2004, Ramsay published Artscape, a cross between a mystery and a spy thriller and the first in an ongoing series. The story follows the investigations of Sheriff Ike Schwartz after a multimillion-dollar art collection is stolen from a local college. A former Central Intelligence Agency agent, Schwartz rises above the less capable members of the local law-enforcement team and discovers that one of the masterminds behind the crime is actually a former FBI agent. Schwartz's religion plays a critical role in the series, as he navigates the difficulties of being a Jewish sheriff in an area where Baptists are the majority. A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that "while Ike emerges as the most fully developed character, several secondary characters stand out as well." Rex E. Klett, in a review for the Library Journal, called the book "a solid debut," while Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin concluded that "Ike's personal story is appealing enough to get readers over the occasional bumps."

Ike Schwartz returns to take on another case in Secrets. When Waldo Templeton, organist of the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Episcopal Church, is found dead at the altar, apparently the victim of a murder, it sets off a frenzy among the remaining church members. Discovered by church secretary Millicent Bass, she and her friends hopelessly contaminate the crime scene. Schwartz knows of nothing negative about Templeton, except that he was a bad musician, but that seems hardly reason enough to kill him. The new vicar, Randolph Blake Fisher, Jr., recently arrived and bearing a blemished past, seems a likely suspect. However, when Millicent is killed and someone makes an attempt on Fisher's life, Schwartz realizes that he has been eyeing the wrong man. As Schwartz struggles to make sense of the perplexing case, the FBI takes an unexpected interest in the proceedings. Soon, secrets are revealed that someone, it seems, would be willing to kill to keep concealed. "Solid plotting and familiar characters make this a pleasant diversion," commented Rex E. Klett in the Library Journal. A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked favorably on Ramsay's handling of important pastoral issues within the novel, and named the book a "thoroughly entertaining mystery that succeeds on all levels without recourse to bombast or carnage."

Buffalo Mountain, the third Ike Schwartz novel, finds Schwartz making a surprising identification of a dead man found dumped in the woods. The identification on the body says the man is Randall Harris, member of a local family of violent redneck ne'er-do-wells. However, recalling his days as a CIA agent, Schwartz quickly realizes that the dead man is actually Alexei Kamarov, a former Russian spy who had allegedly died several years ago. As deputy Whaite Billingsley searches for clues, deputy and computer expert Sam Ryder discovers that an unknown agency has been tracking Kamarov. Tragedy strikes when Billingsley is killed in an apparent accident. Unconvinced that his deputy's death was accidental, Schwartz intensifies his search for answers in a case involving deadly intrigue and the core of a CIA black-ops organization. "Ramsay demonstrates once again that he is a superb storyteller" in this "excellent entry" in his "steadily improving series," commented Booklist reviewer David Pitt.

Impulse, which a Publishers Weekly contributor called a "superb, perfectly paced stand-alone" novel, finds protagonist Frank Smith heading to his fifty-year prep-school reunion. Now a successful mystery novelist based in Phoenix, Arizona, Smith is not particularly keen to revive some of the emotions and nostalgia from his years at Baltimore's Scott Academy. Returning to Baltimore brings back painful memories of his brother Jack's suicide some fifty years earlier. Worse, he is still recovering from the recent murder of his wife, Sandy, in which he is considered a prime suspect. At the reunion party, Smith is challenged to solve a mystery from the school's past: the disappearance of four students in a wooded area twenty-five years ago. Assisting him in this cold-case investigation is Rosemary Mitchell, a childhood friend who quickly develops into a new romantic interest for Smith. As he sifts through the case, dangerous secrets about the vanished students and his fellow classmates come to the surface. Ramsay's intersecting plotlines "make for complex—and exciting—twists and turns," remarked an Internet Bookwatch reviewer. Booklist critic Stephanie Zvirin found the novel to be a "touching reflection" on the troubles and situations involved with "growing older in a society prejudiced against the elderly."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, July, 2004, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Artscape, p. 1825; May 1, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Impulse, p. 39; May 1, 2007, David Pitt, review of Buffalo Mountain, p. 37.

Internet Bookwatch, November, 2006, "Poisoned Pen Press," review of Impulse.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2007, review of Buffalo Mountain.

Library Journal, July, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Artscape, p. 64; August 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of Secrets, p. 57.

MBR Bookwatch, November, 2005, Diane C. Donovan, "Poisoned Pen Press," review of Secrets.

Publishers Weekly, June 21, 2004, review of Artscape, p. 46; July 18, 2005, review of Secrets, p. 188; April 17, 2006, review of Impulse, p. 169; May 14, 2007, review of Buffalo Mountain, p. 34.

ONLINE

Best Reviews,http://thebestreviews.com/ (January 25, 2008), Harriet Klausner, review of Secrets.

BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (April 16, 2005), Mary Ann Smyth, review of Artscape.

Crescent Blues Book Views,http://www.crescentblues.com/ (January 25, 2008), Clint Hunter, review of Secrets.

Frederick Ramsay Home Page,http://www.frederickramsay.com (January 25, 2008).

MyShelf.com,http://www.myshelf.com/ (January 25, 2008), BethEllen McKenzie, interview with Frederick Ramsay; BethEllen McKenzie, review of Buffalo Mountain.

Mysterious Reviews,http://www.mysteriousreviews.com/ (January 25, 2008), review of Buffalo Mountain.

Reader Views,http://www.readerviews.com/ (January 25, 2008), Narissa Johnson, review of Buffalo Mountain.

Shalla de Guzman Home Page,http://www.geocities.com/shalladeguzman/ (January 25, 2008), interview with Frederick Ramsay.