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Countdown: A Jesse Sutherlin Mystery by Frederick Ramsay

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This mystery novel is a sequel to Ramsay’s Copper Kettle. It is set in 1928, eight years after Copper Kettle, in the same area surrounding Buffalo Mountain in Floyd County, Virginia, near the present-day Blue Ridge Parkway. The plot is set off by the sheriff’s discovery of the body of the father of protagonist Jesse Sutherlin, a sawmill worker. The mystery is compounded by the fact that Sutherlin had been notified ten years earlier that his father had died of the Spanish flu while seeking work in Norfolk and that the body was missing both money and a valuable watch. Booklist gave this novel a starred review and wrote: "The cast is delightful, especially Jesse's wife, Serena, a 'sweet mountain girl' who's smarter and tougher than he is and who can't resist letting him know. And a sheriff who hates criminals because they make him work.” Kirkus Reviews advised, "The late Ramsay's second and last adventure for Jesse Sutherlin brings his hero home from the Great War to a world unknowingly on the brink of further disaster. . . . Ramsay's final salute to his hero, completed by his friend and admirer Dana Stabenow, is a fitting conclusion to a career spent chronicling the exploits of hardworking folks in rural America." Publishers Weekly opined, "Unforgettable characters lift Ramsay's sequel. . . . While unraveling the mystery is fun, the novel's real pleasure lies in experiencing life - with all its kindnesses, sorrows, and triumphs - through the eyes of Jesse and his astute wife, Serena." Ramsay was born in Baltimore and did graduate work in Chicago. He worked as both a medical school faculty member and an Episcopal priest. He retired to Arizona and wrote seventeen mysteries before his recent death.

Scottsdale, Arizona: Poisoned Pen Press, 2018. 178 pages. Trade paperback