From Publishers Weekly
Two locked-room murders, nearly 150 years apart, confound Sheriff Ike Schwartz of Picketsville, Va., in Ramsay's suspenseful fourth regional mystery (after 2007's Buffalo Mountain
). Schwartz discovers that both crimes, with sinister undertones of Poe, occurred at the antebellum-era Lydell mansion. The estate's owner, Jonathan Lydell IV, is distraught to find his renovated stranger room (a guest room with its own outside entrance) soiled by death and the intrusion of law enforcement. While Schwartz and acting deputy Karl Hedrick (on loan from the FBI) contend with Lydell's condescension and racism, they're soon distracted by a growing meth epidemic, vandalism and even another death in Picketsville. Ramsay skillfully weaves historical fact into his story, all the while blending brisk action with excellent characterization. Schwartz has matured throughout the series, and readers will eagerly await his next adventure. (Aug.)
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A “stranger room” was an addition attached to the main house but with a separate entrance, allowing travelers not wishing to stay at an inn to stop without disturbing the privacy of the family home. In Picketsville, Virginia, two murders a century and a half apart in the same stranger room offer Sheriff Ike Schwartz much to unravel. Mr. Lydell, owner of the house, lives in the past, where people knew their place, and seem unconcerned by the deaths, even though one of the victims was his daughter. The unraveling of the mystery is done at a leisurely pace, allowing time for romances among the characters and for plenty of sometimes awkwardly introduced asides on prejudice, race relations, southern small-town mores, and Civil War history. All in all, this is an engaging enough small-town mystery with plenty of local ambience. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido