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N/A Doing the Right Thing: Frederick Ramsay's DROWNING BARBIE Barbara Leavy
Abstract 1
     In this lively mystery, Ramsay has managed to write a book in which the murder victim is someone most of us would hate and be happy to see gone from this earth.  A methamphetamine addict, she had sold her young daughter to pedaphiles to get money for drugs and later, when the girl has become a young woman, continues to allow men to use her to support that habit. What Ramsay finds particularly heinous is that a whole town seems to have known what was going on but did not attempt to stop it--with one exception.  The question that Ike must confront in the face of those who might not agree with him is whether murdering an evil person is any more justified than murdering a good one. Does individual vengeance ever trump the rule of law, even when the justice system is seriously flawed. Because of Ramsay wit, Drowning Barbie is a wonderful read, despite its grim subject, and Ramsay has pulled off a difficult feat. It is nonetheless a thoughtful and thought provoking mystery.

Abstract 2
     Is it justifiable to kill a woman so horrible that to obtain money to feed her methamphetamine addict has allowed her daughter to be so sexually abused that the girl's internal organs are damaged beyond repair.  Other authors who have strong feelings about evil create characters who have no difficulty eradicating evil when they can.  James Lee Burke's Clete Purcell and Robert Crais' Joe Pike are examples.  Ramsay's feelings about evil are hardly less strong, but his Ike Schwartz believes that vigilantism will lead to the collapse of all order in society.  Among Ramsay's high degrees is one that led to his being an ordained Episcopal priest who served in many parishes.  One might think that Ike's ethic would therefore rest on religious principles.  But this is not the case.  Ike does what is the right thing to do, and in the end, this is perhaps one of the most difficult ethical mandates that exists. Other writers such as Fyodor Dostoevsky and Albert Camus will be brought into this discussion in order to illustrate why doing the right thing makes more of a demand on someone wishing to be moral than some code that specifies what is right and what is not. Robert Bold's distinction between "simple" and "easy" in his Preface to A Man for All Seasons is also brought in, since doing the right thing is usually neither simple nor easy.
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