Good old boy Merle Puhl is campaigning to be a United States Senator from Montana, and a former President is coming to Rozette to give him a hand. This means that the Secret Service is coming, too, and local police detective Ray Bartell is assigned to work with them. Bartell’s job: act as the security detail’s tour guide in the realm of local lunatics.
This is a finely drawn story, made all the more pleasing by an ending both surprising and realistic.
— David McCumber, The LA Times
The job starts out interesting, but takes a bad turn when Puhl decides to use one outspoken environmentalist, Henry Skelton, as campaign fodder. Skelton has a violent past, so the Secret Service—and consequently Bartell—must take him seriously. In response, Skelton seems determined to prove that everything Puhl does to portray him as a dangerous extremist is true. But where, Bartell comes to wonder, are the lines of extremism drawn? How do you recognize the difference between a patriotic fool and a foolish patriot? And how do you sort out the wreckage when the two clash?