Harry Pettiford was prepared for sleaziness when he took on the public information job for a local pol's re-election campaign in suburban Holburn, a small Virginia town between Alexandria and Arlington. Harry wasn't prepared when his boss got a spike to the heart. Death Wears a Tricorn is a mystery that will keep the reader guessing until the last page. More
Returning to Northern Virginia to live with his elderly aunt in Holburn , an imaginary town between Alexandria and Arlington, while he finds care for his wife in a nearby nursing home, retired journalist Harry Pettiford returns to the life of public relations that he’d hoped never to resume. Taking a job with the re-election campaign of a town councilman, Jerry Nuffield, Harry manages the staffers—mostly law students—and makes the contacts with local media and party backers that carry Nuffield to victory in a tight race. After the celebration, however, Nuffield is found, wearing only his underwear and a tricorn hat, with a memo spike in his chest.
Given his crude treatment of staff, his extramarital affairs, and his secret deals with local contractors that anger the local Hispanic community, Nuffield has many murder suspects. Harry unwillingly becomes part of the investigation, drawn into it by his childhood friend, Sheriff Lester Stihl, local reporter June Brightman, and by the discovery of another body—this time a young staffer with whom Nuffield had an affair.
When the kidnapping of a local contractor is connected to one of Nuffield’s deals concerning a housing project, Harry and June begin to suspect that the crimes are politically motivated. Already out of his depth as he slowly uncovers the history of a small terrorist cell operating between Holburn and the rural town of Wando, Harry is even more confused when June’s interest in him becomes more than professional. As the focus sharpens on the killer, the killer’s interest shifts to the meddlesome Harry Pettiford, who keeps getting in the way of his plans. As the novel races to the end, Harry realizes too late that he has become the next target. Readers will enjoy the understated humor, the characters’ development and interaction, and the growing suspense as every attempt that Harry makes to avoid involvement only ensnares him more inescapably.