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Dr. Frederick Ramsay is an American author of mystery and historical mystery novels.

He is best known for writing mystery series such as Botswana Mystery, Ike Schwartz, and Jerusalem Mystery.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he graduated from Washington and Lee University in Virginia before receiving his doctorate from the University of Illinois.

After a brief spell in the Army, Ramsay taught Anatomy, Embryology and Histology at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine.

He also concurrently studied theology and was ordained an Episcopal priest.

Upon leaving the field of academia, Ramsay went on to do many different jobs, including being an insurance salesman, a tow man and line supervisor at the BWI airport, and a community college instructor and substitute.

He then worked as a full-time clergyman before retiring to become an author.

Ramsay currently resides in Surprise, Arizona with his wife and partner, Susan.

More about Frederick Ramsay

Genres: Historical Mystery, Mystery

United States


Non Series

  • Impulse (2006)

Botswana Mystery

  1. Predators (2009)
  2. Reapers (2010)
  3. Danger Woman (2016)

Ike Schwartz

  1. Artscape (2004)
  2. Secrets (2005)
  3. Buffalo Mountain (2007)
  4. Stranger Room (2008)
  5. Choker (2009)
  6. The Eye of the Virgin (2010)
  7. Rogue (2011)
  8. Scone Island (2012)
  9. Drowning Barbie (2014)
  10. The Vulture (2015)

Jerusalem Mystery

  1. Judas (2007)
  2. The Eighth Veil (2012)
  3. Holy Smoke (2013)
  4. The Wolf and the Lamb (2014)

Jesse Sutherlin Mystery

  1. Copper Kettle (2017)
  2. Countdown (2018)
Non Series
Jesse Sutherlin Mystery

Detailed book overview

Non Series


Frank Smith, famed writer of murder mysteries, boards Southwest Airlines heading from Phoenix to Baltimore. His goal is his 50th class reunion at Scott Academy, but behind him he leaves the highly suspicious disappearance of his wife into apparent thin air four years ago and the relentless quest of Officer Ledezma whose impulse is that Smith has killed her and buried the body. But another mystery awaits Frank at Scott—a mystery 25 years old.

A group of young boys walked from the campus into the woods and disappeared. What could have happened to them? Who better than he to probe the mystery? In doing so, he not only relives his own boyhood when his father was the upright head of Scott's English Department, but that of the classmates of the missing boys, some of whom are back at Scott now for their 25th.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2006
ISBN: 978-1458739575
Publisher: ReadHowYouWant

Botswana Mystery


Leo Painter is the CEO of Earth Global, a large energy, mining and real-estate development firm. He and his party of company executives are traveling in Botswana to consult with the government about accessing their extractable resources.

Sekoa is a male lion who shares with his bipedal enemies, the misfortune to be the bearer of HIV/AIDs. Weakened by the disease, he loses his place as the alpha male in his pride and now, dying and harassed by a pack of hyenas, seeks only a place to rest in peace.

Painter, pursued by his own "hyenas" only wishes to find a last resting place where he can further his dream: to build a resort/casino on Botswana's Chobe River.

Their paths cross with tragic consequences as police, a plucky woman game warden, and myriad local authorities, hoteliers, and tribesmen, vie over what happened and to whom.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2009
ISBN: 978-1590588093
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

The World Cup, which arrives in June, has ripple effects on all South Africa's neighbors. The arrival of soccer fans, team owners, sponsors, and world dignitaries makes southern Africa, particularly Botswana, ripe for all sorts of intrigue and illicit activities. The American Secretary of State will visit the Chobe. The North Koreans, the Okavango, Arabs, French, Chinese, and Russians are scattered among the various lodges and hotels in the country before, during and after the games. And all will be watching and waiting on the others.

Orgonise Africa, derived from Wilhelm Reich's popularization of orgone energy and transmogrified by bad science and wishful thinking, is an effort by fanatics to push forward a plan to seed Africa with orgone, which they believe will purify the continent, rid it of drought, poverty, and HIV/AIDs.

To the north, Patriarche, a silverback mountain gorilla, is forced to share his habitat with coltan miners led by General Le Grande, one of the Congo's many bloody war lords. The profits from the sale of coltan, so prized by electronics manufacturers, help fuel the seemingly endless civil wars that plague that poor country.

Sanderson, the Game Ranger in the Chobe National Park, finds a body. Tracking down the murderer opens doors that lead her and Inspector Kgabo Modise first to evidence of local bribery, then to smuggling, and finally to what could well provoke an international incident, except for the shrewd action of Modise and Botswana's intelligence community.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2010
ISBN: 978-1590588086
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Danger Woman

In Botswana, people of the north live in harmony with the wildlife, yet predators and poachers freely roam. The lions may be kings, but hyenas will steal their prey. A Chobe Game Park pack led by the alpha female is especially fearless. The locals call her Kotsi Mosadi, Setswana for Danger Woman.

Following a recent rash of deaths and dismembered body parts appearing in the park, District Superintendent Sanderson is alerted to the discovery of a ravaged human skull, believed to be the work of the Russian Bratva. Fresh from St. Petersburg, led by Oleg Lenka, these mafiosi think it will be a cinch to take over the region's high-end tourist trade and in particular the casino/hotel operation that is the fiercely held, final dream of American billionaire Leo Painter.

Sanderson's friend and, it must be said, her lover, Inspector Kgabo Modise of the Botswana Police Service, is tasked to remove them. Arriving from Gabarone, deploying limited staff undercover, Modise is quickly swept into a complex set of moves orchestrated to outwit not so much Lenka, a traditional kind of thug, but his mistress Irena Davidova, the Bratva's own Danger Woman. She's the alpha of the Russian pack—but for how long?

Aided by Sanderson, who has some clever moves of her own, Modise and his team gradually undermine the Bratva's assumption that the intimidation tactics that worked in St. Petersburg will work in Botswana, a country where the police are unarmed. And Leo has a ruthless Russian of his own in play, plus resources from Chicago. In parallel, a very pregnant Kotsi Mosadi is fully engaged keeping control of her pack and outwitting relentless lions.

Within the majestic park, the interplay of predator and prey, the unpredictability of conflicting interests, and the heartlessness of the Bratva culture finally collide to upend an otherwise ordinary night on the Chobe River.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2016
ISBN: 978-1525243530
Publisher: ReadHowYouWant

Ike Schwartz


Ike Schwartz thought he could return to his hometown and ditch the demons that pursue him. More than anything, he wanted to blot out the pain and anger that came when his wife of less than a month was gunned down in a CIA foul-up. So he buried himself as sheriff in rural Picketsville, Virginia, a community indistinguishable from any of the hundreds of small towns that hang like beads on Interstate 81 running from Pennsylvania down to Georgia. 

Aside from its Civil War history, Picketsville’s only real claim to fame is Callend College, a private women’s school located just within its corporate limits. The college is notable, in turn, for housing one half of the billion dollar Dillon art collection, carefully secured in an underground bunker originally built in the late 1950s as a super bomb shelter. 

It’s bad news for both Dr. Ruth Harris, the newly hired president of the college, and for a shadowy group whose services have been contracted by Middle Eastern fanatics―The New Jihad―when the collection is scheduled to be removed to New York. The plan is to steal the half billion dollars worth of fine art and statuary, and ransom it back for millions. 

With the closure of the facility imminent, the operation must be moved forward, which, in turn, creates unanticipated risks and problems. And everyone dismisses Ike Schwartz as a stereotypical rural sheriff. He is, however, a man with uncommon skills, a tough hide, and a notable past.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2004
ISBN: 978-1525242946
Publisher: ReadHowYouWant

The Reverend Blake Fisher was ambitious and naïve, a combination that led to his exile to Picketsville, Virginia, where his bishop has named him the new vicar. He's off to a poor start what with a corpse in the sanctuary, his gun stolen, his congregation in open rebellion, and the local law breathing down his neck. Then the Vicar's secretary, Millicent Bass, an incorrigible gossip and snoop, follows Waldo to an early grave.

For Sheriff Ike Schwartz, two murders and the unexplained presence of the FBI in his town wreak havoc with keeping the peace. They don't do his romance with the president of Callend College for Women any good either. Ruth Harris is threatened by the murders on the one hand, and on the other by her faculty, who dismiss Ike as just another country cop. If only they knew how overqualified Ike actually is....

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2005
ISBN: 978-1464200571
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Buffalo Mountain

It's midwinter and the Shenandoah Valley is poised on the brink of an unusually icy and snowy season. Alexei Kamarov's body is discovered in a forest within the Picketsville town limits. His driver's license identifies him as Randall Harris. The last Sheriff Ike Schwartz heard of Kamarov, he was reported missing―presumed dead in Russia―the victim of intelligence game-playing.

Ike is not happy this piece of his past has resurfaced. Especially when Ike's former CIA colleague and friend Charlie Garland asks Ike to keep a lid on the investigation.

Slowly, interagency rivalries emerge as local petty criminals vie with international assassins and plotters for attention. All the while, Buffalo Mountain looms in the background....

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2007
ISBN: 978-1590585375
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Stranger Room

Elderly Jonathan Lydell III is proud of his lineage. He is related to the Virginia Lees and to the Custis family. For Lydell, family, status, and history are the only realities―that and his antebellum house.

Lydell's house has a very colorful history, and Lydell is committed to restoring it to its pre-Civil War configuration, complete with a "stranger room." In the 1800s, many family homes sported these attached rooms with separate entrances and locks that were kept ready for unknown travelers. The intent was to protect the family from unsavory guests.

Nearly 150 years ago, an inexplicable murder took place inside the Lydell's locked stranger room. The murderer was never caught. Lydell thinks this brutal history adds to the house's rich character. But when an identical murder is committed in the newly restored stranger room, even Sheriff Ike Schwartz and FBI agent Karl Hedrick can't explain it....

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2008
ISBN: 978-1590586488
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Nick Reynolds, his pilot's rating barely a month old, drops off the radar one night over the Chesapeake Bay. Investigating agencies call it another tragic pilot-error accident. No trace of the plane is found. But Charlie Garland, Sheriff Ike Schwartz' old friend from their CIA days, isn't so sure.

The missing pilot was engaged to Charlie's niece, and the family is not dealing well with the lack of closure. More important, just before his disappearance, Nick had placed a puzzling call to Charlie. So Charlie calls in his old friend, Ike, who's vacationing nearby.

Ike's wide-eyed entry into a simple missing persons case soon catapults him into an international investigation with intimations of terrorism that could threaten the nation and its leaders.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2009
ISBN: 978-1590588512
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
The Eye of the Virgin

On the same evening a body is left in Picketsville's urgent care clinic, a mysterious break-in occurs at the house of one of Callend University's faculty. Sheriff Ike Schwartz thinks both events might be connected to The Virgin of Tenderness, an icon in the faculty member's possession.

Then, what appears to be a microdot is found on the icon. In an era of sophisticated cyber-encrypted information transfer, the presence of this bit of CIA nostalgia brings in Ike's friend Charlie Garland and the forces from Langley.

Ike has no wish to engage with them or their problems. He has killers to apprehend―in spite of the meddling by government agencies. But there is more to these murders than meets the eye. A dead CIA agent and a rogue handler could trigger an international incident....

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2010
ISBN: 978-1590587614
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Ruth Harris, Sherriff Ike Schwartz's fiancée, is involved in a near fatal automobile accident. But Ike is convinced the crash was rigged. Even though he is embroiled in a close election, has no jurisdiction over the investigation, and can find no support in the usual law enforcement community, he places himself on leave and goes rogue to investigate and seek the person or persons responsible for putting Ruth in a coma.

Help arrives from unexpected and irregular sources. Old friends in the covert community step up and his loyal staff in Picketsville provide undercover assistance. The journey leads Ike to state's rights organizations, then to several zealots and dissident academics before it finally ends at home in Picketsville.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2011
ISBN: 978-1590589045
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Scone Island

Ike Schwartz, Sheriff of Picketsville, Virginia, and his fiancée Ruth Dennis, the President of a local university, seek asylum from a trying year of academic and local politics on Scone Island, four miles off the coast of Maine. Its lack of electricity, reliable water supply, and phone service guarantee their seclusion and peace. The suspicious accident that resulted in the death of the mysterious Harmon Staley should not concern them at all. And it doesn't...until Ike's past as a CIA agent rolls in on him like the area's famous twelve-foot tides. 

Two more murders involving former colleagues send Ike's old CIA friend Charlie Garland searching for a connection. Stonewalling by the CIA and conspiracies―real and imagined―leave Ike and Ruth facing an unknown number of determined assassins alone on the island. Then Ruth's mother decides to drop in on them just as the excitement begins....

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2012
ISBN: 978-1464200557
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Drowning Barbie

Ethyl Smut, everyone agreed, deserved to die. But even a life wasted deserves justice. When a second body is unearthed in Ethyl's shallow grave and the nightmarish George LeBrun finds his way to Ike's desk, things get messy fast.

Then there is Ethyl's missing daughter, Darla, who could testify against some important people if she were found. And as if Ike hadn't enough on his plate, former CIA co-workers Karl Hedrick and Sam arrive to investigate the source of the second body. It's like old home week in Picketsville.

Finally, there is the ongoing saga of Ike and Ruth's engagement that must be settled one way or another. Can Ike solve these cases before his altar date?

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2014
ISBN: 978-1464202162
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
The Vulture

Marry new technology to old-fashioned policing and you've got something special.

The car is found just outside Picketsville, Virginia, a smoking ruin of twisted metal and shattered glass. It takes only a glance to confirm that this is Ike Schwartz's car. Ever since he left the CIA, the incorruptible Picketsville sheriff has made enemies at home and abroad. Now, one has caught up with him, with a bomb powerful enough to turn quiet Main Street into a smoking crater. Is this a cop killing―or domestic terrorism?

The town plunges into mourning, and Ike's wife Ruth, the president of the local college, puts on a brave face as the sheriff's department organizes a manhunt, the likes of which Picketsville has never seen. Back at the CIA, Ike's old colleague Charlie Garland joins the hunt, becoming fixated on a blurry videotape of the crime scene. Charlie's elastic job description includes monitoring Ike's life.

Investigations―led by more than one player―fan around and out of Picketsville as far as a small town in Idaho where Martin Pangborn, head of the radical militia called the Fifty-First Star, runs his organization. If some banks and businesses are too big to fail, are some people too deeply connected or too wealthy to bring to justice? Is Martin Pangborn such a person? The Fifty-First Star's tentacles run long and deep. But the Vulture is something no one, not even Martin Pangborn, is prepared for.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2015
ISBN: 978-1464204784
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Jerusalem Mystery


The child Judas, illegitimate offspring of a Jewish woman and a Roman soldier, struggles to understand his mother's god, a god who allows terrible things to happen to him and his family. Despairing, he becomes a survivor in the brutal streets of the first century Roman Empire.

Later, as a young man determined to avenge the wrongs committed against his family, he joins the rebels led by Barabbas, only to be betrayed by them as well. Beaten and broken, he is brought to the community of Zealots at Qumran and eventually to the one forming around Rabbi Jesus. But his enthusiasm for revolution leads him to make a difficult and—for him and others—fateful choice.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2007
ISBN: 978-1459656741
Publisher: ReadHowYouWant
The Eighth Veil

It is 28 CE, the time of the feast of Tabernacles. A servant girl is found in the baths of the palace of King Herod Antipas, her throat cut. Jerusalem is buzzing over the brutal death of a prophet, John, known familiarly as the Baptizer, and Prefect Pontius Pilate wants no more trouble. 

So he coerces Gamaliel, the chief rabbi and head of the Sanhedrin, into investigating the girl's death. Gamaliel is a Talmudic scholar, not a sleuth. But as he learns more of the dead girl's background and that of some key suspects, he begins to fit the evidence together. 

The entwined histories of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Herod the Great, Anthony, and Augustus Caesar suddenly gain relevance to affairs in Jerusalem. And all the while, an itinerant rabbi from Nazareth with his ragged band of enthusiasts and his habit of annoying Caiaphas, the High Priest, moves enigmatically in the background....

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2012
ISBN: 978-0967759050
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Holy Smoke

The year is 29 C.E., and Jerusalem chafes under the Roman Empire's oppressive rule. A badly scorched body is found behind the Veil of the Holy of Holies―the Temple's inner sanctum, the most sacred space on earth for the Jews. No one except the high priest may enter this place and he only on the Day of Atonement. This is no casual violation, and the authorities are in an uproar.

Gamaliel, the rabban of the Sanhedrin, is the ranking rabbi in all of Judea. Now he must solve this delicate mystery while dark agents with unholy interests plot to seize control of much of the trade in certain highly profitable imports. As the tangled web of intrigue and murder is slowly unraveled, Yeshua, the radical rabbi from Galilee, continues to annoy the high priest, and holy smoke from the sacrifices rises from the Temple.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-1464200922
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
The Wolf and the Lamb

It's Passover. Gamaliel and his physician friend, Loukas, are crime-solving a third time―reluctantly. Pontius Pilate has been accused of murder. He denies the crime. If convicted, he might escape death but would be removed from Judea. Those rejoicing urge the Rabban to mind his own business. But Gamaliel is a just man which is, as Pilate says to him, "your weakness and also your strength."

Knowing that exonerating the Roman could cost him his position, possibly his life, Gamaliel, as would Sherlock Holmes centuries later, examines evidence and sorts through tangled threads, teasing out suspects who include assassins, Roman nobles, Pilate's wife, rogue legionnaires, slaves, servants, and thespians. Unusually, justice triumphs over enmity. Gamaliel is satisfied, High Priest Caiaphas is irate, Loukas accepts an apprentice from Tarsus, and few notice the events of what will later be known as Easter.

Ramsay's plausible narrative answers some questions which have puzzled Biblical scholars for centuries. Why did Pilate hear the case against Jesus? Why invent a tradition that required one prisoner be released at Passover? And we ask, why could Caiaphas not heed Gamaliel's warnings not to martyr the man?

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2014
ISBN: 978-1464203282
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Jesse Sutherlin Mystery

Copper Kettle

It's 1920. Jesse Sutherlin has returned to Buffalo Mountain a war hero, having after survived the trenches of World War I. Not only did he fight the enemy, reaching the rank of officer, he went a few rounds with some of his fellow soldier who viewed him as a hillbilly.

Jesse is glad to be home. But his view of the world and of himself has changed. What next? He can't shake his training as an officer to follow the old lifestyle. He applies for a job at the local sawmill where his new boss quickly makes him foreman for a decent wage. And he meets the independent Serena Barker.

His cousin and fellow soldier, Solomon McAdoo, was less fortunate in his war service. He's suffering from shell shock. One day, up on the mountain while tending to a family moonshine still owned by Big Tom McAdoo, he's shot in the back. When Jesse hears this, he knows violence is going to boil up. The west side of the mountain is McAdoo territory, while the east side belongs to the Lebruns. 

The dispute ignited by Solomon's murder will be like the feud between the West Virginia Hatfields and McCoys, with no winners, only more dead men. The mountain is a hard place, where shooting someone over a disagreement is just part of life. Jesse decides to head off the violence by investigating the crime.

But he's hampered by his bellicose Sutherlin family who want retribution. Jesse is also held back by Serena, a Lebrun relative, who urges him to get away before he gets himself killed, and by a bigoted local sheriff who soon arrests him on the testimony of an eyewitness to Solomon's death. 

Jesse encounters a lawyer in Floyd, the county seat, who is hired to defend him when he's arrested, romances the girl from the enemy camp, and tries to stay alive while preventing more, perhaps wholesale, deaths. Big Tom gives him a deadline: four days.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2017
ISBN: 978-1464207846
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

It's 1928, Jesse Sutherlin now has his own family and has made a success at the sawmill below Virginia's Buffalo Mountain working for JG Edwards. The country's economy is booming. And then David Privette, the sheriff who succeeded Dalton P. Franklin with whom Jesse had a run-in or two in Copper Kettle, arrives with surprising news―the body of Jesse's father has just been discovered in the pit at Smith's West Oxford Street ice house operation. How could this be? In 1918 a man had brought the family the news that Sutherlin, Sr., had died of the Spanish flu while seeking work up in Norfolk, Virginia.

Sheriff Privette doesn't take a deep interest in this cold crime, but Jesse is not letting it go. The body has been found with a money belt fat with fifty dollars, a small fortune. Twenty of the seventy dollars that Sutherlin Sr. was carrying is missing. So is his heirloom watch given to him for "thirty years' service in the AM and O Railroad which is now the Norfolk and Western. It was gold and big as an onion." What happened to the money and to "the Onion"? Was all this the work of a thief? Who was the man who showed up at the Sutherlins' door? There's not much to work with. But that won't stop Jesse who investigates as the 1928 boom progresses relentlessly toward 1929.

Author: Frederick Ramsay
First Release: 2018
ISBN: 978-1464210594
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press