Eliot Cross, driving around on a two-lane road after having a few beers, or more, sees a body lying by the road. He gets out, and sees the body of man. There's a knife sticking out of the man's stomach. That's the last Cross knows for a while because someone clouts him in the head. When he recovers, there's a cop with him, and the body has disappeared.
It's 1988, and Eliot Cross is a little disappointed in his life as a private investigator. Too few clients, and not much purpose in life. He's thinking about giving it up and finding some other line of work. Then he gets a call from an old friend who wants to hire him to find out who's stolen the secret to a new scale. Yes, a scale. Not the kind in your bathroom or the kind depicted on the cover. A somewhat different kind You might not realize just how important scales can be, but you'll find out if you read this book. The secrets of some scales can lead to murder and more deaths than one.
The story is a complicated one, and it even features a death in a locked room before it's all over, but Cross eventually gets to the end of it with a little help from his cop friend, Lou Stevenson (who's tired of his job, too, and looking to get out), a reporter named Sherry (Cross admits that he occasionally lets sex distract him from his job; in this book it's more than occasional), and a few others. And I'll bet you've already guessed that the body in beside the road is connected to the industrial espionage somehow.
In the course of the story you'll learn a lot about scales and trade shows, but what it is, is a good old-fashioned P.I. story, with sex, violence, surprises, and some laughs along the way. Check it out.