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STRANGER ROOM by Frederick Ramsay

STRANGER ROOM

By Frederick Ramsay

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59058-535-1
Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Identical locked-room murders are separated by more than 100 years.

After the overnight traveler sequestered in the isolated Bellmore guest room doesn’t answer his wake-up call, his bullet-riddled body is found inside his room, whose door is locked from the inside. How was he killed? That’s the problem facing Jewish Sheriff Ike Schwartz and his black deputy Karl Hedrick, on leave from the FBI. Bellmore owner Jonathan Lydell III, an uppity Southerner who traces his family roots back to the First Families of Virginia, considers the lawmen menials, barely worthy of his civility. He’s not much kinder to his daughter Martha Marie, with whom he argues just before she topples down the stairs and breaks her neck. Did Lydell’s daughter and his late guest know one another? Did they know the contents of the historical documents Lydell seems so fidgety about? The answers will draw Schwartz and Hedrick back over a century to another murder committed in a locked room at Bellmore in defense of the Southern cause.

Subtlety is not part of the game plan here. Ramsay (Buffalo Mountain, 2007, etc.) lays on the racism with a trowel and spoils the fun of solving a locked-room puzzle by hinting at the solution early on. Skip this round, and wait another 100 years.