The Wolf and the Lamb by Frederick Ramsay

The Wolf and the Lamb by Frederick Ramsay
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (314 pgs)
Rated: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

It s Passover. Gamaliel, and his physician friend, Loukas, are crime-solving a third time reluctantly. Pontius Pilate has been accused of murder. He denies the crime. If convicted, he might escape death but would be removed from Judea. Those rejoicing urge the Rabban to mind his own business. But Gamaliel is a Just Man which is, as Pilate points out, your weakness and also your strength. Knowing that exonerating the Roman could cost him his position, possibly his life, Gamaliel, as would Sherlock Holmes centuries later, examines evidence and sorts through tangled threads, teasing out suspects who include assassins, Roman nobles, Pilate s wife, rogue legionnaires, slaves, servants, thespians, and a race horse named Pegasus. Unusually, justice triumphs over enmity. Gamaliel is satisfied, High Priest Caiphas is irate, Loukas accepts an apprentice from Tarsus, and few notice the events of what will later be known as Easter. Ramsay s plausible narrative answers some questions which have puzzled Biblical scholars for centuries. Why did Pilate hear the case against Jesus? Why invent a tradition that required one prisoner be released at Passover? Having done so, why offer the most terrifying criminal in the country, Barabbas, as the substitute for Jesus when two better, less dangerous prisoners were at hand? And we ask, why could Caiphas not heed Gamaliel s warnings not to martyr the man?

Absolutely riveting from start to finish, Ramsey’s new first century mystery, The Wolf and the Lamb, brings the best of both ‘historic’ as well as ‘mystery.’

The famed cast of characters, including Pontious Pilate himself in a headlining role, add significantly the historic aura evoked here. Ramsay brings us the city of Jerusalem and shows us, up close, the lives of the people while occupied by the Romans. The religious happenings of the day–the rumors, concerns about this man in Galilee–as well as the everyday duties of various levels of citizen, all add to the backdrop here.

Yet, intriguing as the backdrop is (and it is! My one complaint is my wish to see more… a tiny bit more…) it is the mystery that stars. Familiar ‘detective,’ Gamaliel, local Rabban, is called by none other than the prefect, Pilate himself, when the prefect is (so he claims) falsely accused of murder. Although Gamaliel owes nothing to the prefect, and in fact, might prefer to see him fall, Pilate rightly assures him that he is ‘too just’ and ‘too righteous’ to allow such an injustice. Oh, we see into Gamaliel’s own psyche in some of these moments.

Gamaliel’s investigation would do a contemporary detective proud; he pursues facts logically; consulting with those he trusts.  Suspicious where he needs to be, for the most part. We see a plain motive from the start, but, we too have seen that the obvious killer is not the one. There is both intrigue and danger, and while not suspenseful in the thriller way, there is a steady increase in tension.

Ramsay brings us a vision of a life–and lives–woven into the intriguing pursuit of injustice. The Wolf and the Lamb is a wonderful, thought-provoking, and enjoyable read. While mystery fans will love it,  you won’t need to be a mystery fan to find this completely intriguing.

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