With the nation's eye on Black River Falls, McCain chases a snake handler's killer.
Fundamentalist preacher John Muldaur isn't afraid of snakes — he uses them every week in his services — but he's convinced that the Pope is trying to kill him. Iowa lawyer Sam McCain, the poorest attorney in a thriving town, listens patiently to the self-declared reverend's outlandish theories about being targeted by a papal hit squad, and agrees to investigate the matter simply to get Muldaur out of his office. But that night at a wild religious service, McCain sees Muldaur proven right. The holy man is killed by poison — not from one of his rattlesnakes, but from a Pepsi bottle laced with strychnine.
On the campaign trail for president, Vice President Nixon is on his way to town to make a speech, and McCain is asked to find Muldaur's killer before the national media arrives. What he finds is a conspiracy just as improbable as the Catholic hit men — but far more deadly.