Poisoned Pen, Jun 2009, $24.95
Picketsville, Virginia Sheriff Ike Schwartz is relaxing at the Delaware shore on a vacation when a former associate at the CIA Charlie Garland asks for his help. Charlie wants Ike to investigate the disappearance of his niece's fiancé, Nick Reynolds. Charlie agrees to make inquiries though he wonders why Charlie did not go to official channels
A former US Navy pilot, Nick left a strange voice mail message just before he disappeared over Chesapeake Bay. Ike begins to find frightening information that makes the sheriff wonder if the missing aviator observed a threat to national security that required his being eliminated or going underground.
CHOKER is an exciting investigative thriller that freshens up the Schwartz police procedurals (see STRANGER ROOM) with the CIA connection. The story line is superb as Ike delicately balances espionage agents, military brass, and cantankerous civilians. However, when the tale returns to Picketsville where Frank Sutherlin is acting sheriff, the plot loses steam as his inquiry into high school students conducting satanic rites subtracts from the prime investigation. Still with great characterizations and a fascinating main plot, Frederick Ramsay provides readers with an entertaining Ike Schwartz mystery.