Books by David Ramus

ON ICE by David Ramus
Released: June 1, 2000

"In his third time out (The Gravity of Shadows, 1998, etc.), Ramus is still getting it mostly wrong. His plotting is predictable, his writing pedestrian, his people the stuff of pulp fiction."
An also-ran about an innocent horse-barn builder wrongly jailed. Read full book review >
Released: May 15, 1998

Scattered, amateurish thriller featuring an art dealer-as-sleuth poking around the mansions of Palm Beach society, by a former art dealer and heroin addict. Ramus' second effort (Thief of Light, 1995) begins with a deceptive semblance of storytelling craft, introducing debt-dogged art dealer Wil Sumner as he helps an elderly couple sell an heirloom painting at auction. Immediately afterward, Sumner is mysteriously summoned to Palm Beach by Broward Gaines, attorney for bedridden multimillionaire Andrew Stevenson, who wants his collection of drawings appraised for sale. A poor boy who grew up serving the cabanas of Palm Beach society, Wil arrives to witness a harassing stranger being driven off by Maj, the black groundskeeper, and soon teams up with the de rigeur poolside blond in the bikini—Stevenson's daughter, M.K.—to try to figure out why Andrew is selling what turns out to be a fabulous collection. Wil ends up fighting a lethal intruder who breaks in and demands "the file" from a medicated Andrew. In the bedside battle, the thug kills M.K.'s mother and flees, leaving the police to suspect Wil of her murder. By listening at keyholes, Wil figures out the mystery: Florida's Spanish-born gubernatorial candidate, Roberto Salgo, is a former Falangist from the Spanish Civil War, one of Franco's nasty young terrorists. After comatose Andrew wakes up, he confesses to Wil that, when he was a young schoolboy living in Spain, he went along with Roberto the night the gang torched a church and killed three nuns. It was his remorseful attempt to force Salgo to withdraw his candidacy by threatening to reveal his secret that has caused all the trouble. By now, of course, Salgo's men have kidnaped M.K., leaving Wil and Maj to track down and rescue her in a bloody gun battle. A flaccid pudding that mushes together serious issues with outtakes from Baywatch and Miami Vice, although the art history details and Palm Beach milieu ring true. Read full book review >
THIEF OF LIGHT by David Ramus
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

A drossy embarrassment from former art dealer and recovering heroin addict Ramus, a man who reportedly lost a king's ransom (five million) when the bottom fell out of the New York art market in the 1980s, but got a fifth of it back for this debut novel. Adrian Sellars, a junkie who's leveraged his gallery into major debt, harbors an attraction to dicey get-rich-quick schemesall hallmarks of the go-go '80s art-dealer affliction. Not entirely dissolute, however, Sellars shelters a secret heart of gold and at least a strand of moral fiber, though the Japanese gangsters to whom he's been selling forgeries of French Impressionist masterpieces couldn't care less about his ethics. Matters get nasty when Sellars's forger meets a violent death at the hands of a pair of street hoods, who destroy a copy of Monet's ``Water Lilies'' before they murder the unfortunate painter and remove his ears. Sellars's Japanese connection, a remorseless evildoer named Tanaka, puts the dealer on the clock to locate a replacement Monet, which spins Sellars into a downward spiral of hustling and heroin abuse that culminates in the killing of his partner. Desperate, Sellars turns to his foxy assistant, Devon Berenson, for help, and she comes through in spades: Not only does she hide him while he goes cold turkey and then sleep with him, but she convinces him to visit a patrician art-restorer who provides a real Monet as bait for the Japanese. Ramus mates the cultural paranoia of Reservoir Dogs with the adolescent sleuthing of Hardy Boys before staging a prolonged final showdown between Sellars and the Japanese heavies that features an assassination, a double-cross, and a cameo by retired tennis star John McEnroe. A juvenile caper failing to pass itself off as a cautionary tale. (First printing of 125,000; Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection; author tour) Read full book review >