It is August 1960, and Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon is riding the campaign trail. Among his next stops is Black River Falls, Iowa - a prospect that has the whole town talking and Judge Esme Ann Whitney, the presidential candidate's old friend, bustling with Republican fervor. Out on the north edge of town, meanwhile, in the abandoned garage where the country preacher John Muldaur has set up his ministry, the snakes are rattling.
Muldaur has not endeared himself to the people of Black River Falls either with his snake-handling ceremonies or with the anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic pamphlets - THE JEWS BEHIND JOHN F. KENNEDY screams their headline - that he's been circulating. Still, the town's youngest lawyer and sometime private investigator, Sam McCain, finds Muldaur's claim that he may be the target of a papist assassination plot largely improbable. McCain can't deny, though, that somebody has got it in bad for Muldaur when, apparently by snakebite but actually from strychnine-laced Pepsi, the preacher drops dead at his own altar.
With Nixon's visit only a week away Judge Whitney wants this inconvenient matter of murder cleared up fast, to keep the entire population of Black River Falls from looking like "a bunch of hill people" to the GOP and the national press. Between McCain and the solution stand a heap of local prejudices, some unpleasant family secrets, the dim-witted police chief Cliffie Sykes, Jr., another corpse, and a cageful of rattlesnakes.
Original title: Save the Last Dance for Me
Genre: Fiction→ Crime and Mystery→ Detective Story and Detectives