Even with some uptight Feds in his way, laid-back sheriff Ike Schwartz is able to untangle a tricky murder puzzle.
Louis Dakis, an artist and instructor at Virginia’s Callend University, returns home from class to find his rented digs ransacked, though nothing’s been taken. Across town at the Picketsville Hospital emergency room, nurse Laurie Kratz discovers that the quiet man waiting patiently for treatment is actually dead. Dakis’s estranged wife Lorraine phones him from Washington to accuse him of a similar break-in at her (formerly their) shop, though she’s really more concerned about her missing boyfriend Franco. Picketsville’s easygoing sheriff Ike, who catches both cases, sees a potential connection when his keen eye spots an old listening device on a valuable icon from the Dakis collection that didn’t happen to be in either ransacked location. This device, and the need to identify the corpse in the emergency room, brings the CIA in the person of Charlie Garland and his team, whose interaction with Ike and his deputies has a good dose of friction. The dead man was Farouk Zaki, aka Franco Sacci, the new boyfriend Lorraine evidently plucked from the terrorist watch list. On the personal front, Ike becomes engaged to his longtime ladylove Ruth, and the whole department deals with the pregnancy of one of its deputies.
Sure-footed plotting and easy banter make Ramsay’s sixth Sheriff Ike mystery (Choker, 2009, etc.) a brisk, entertaining read.