Sunday, February 28, 2016


1988. Eliot Cross is tired of the private detective game and thinking about his exit. His one-man shop, Cross Examinations, in Columbus, Ohio, is less than busy. His elderly mother and estranged father both died the prior month, and the bottle has become more comfort than it should be. His head hurts, too, since taking a knock the previous night after discovering a dead body at roadside. The body disappeared and the police are less than interested in Eliot’s story.

An old flame, Diane Davis, convinces Eliot to take one last job before shuttering the business. It is an industrial espionage case involving the theft of a high tech industrial scale developed by Ms. Davis’ employer Justice Scale Corporation. Eliot takes the job for no reason other than wanting to end his P. I. run with a win. The case, unsurprisingly, is more than it seems and by the end includes a few dead bodies and even circles back to Eliot’s disappearing roadside corpse.

Crossfire: The Scales of Justice is a nicely entertaining private eye novel. Its plot is complicated, interesting, and satisfyingly over-the-top—it includes a blackmail scheme threatening the 1988 Summer Olympics. It is written in a smoothly terse, almost ironic, first person. Eliot is self-deprecating, tough, and attracts women like a film star. The setting is nicely late-1980s, including vintage descriptions of Columbus, cars, and music. It is easy to read, more fun than any Tuesday night on television, and thoroughly enjoyable.    
Purchase a copy of Crossfire: The Scales of Justice at Amazon.


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Ben, one last job or case by the PI usually builds up the suspense and expectation for the reader and "Crossfire: The Scales of Justice" scores on both counts, I think. I'm familiar with John Hegenberger's books though I still have to read them.

Ben Boulden said...

Prashant. The inherent dissatisfaction of the protagonist is one of the reasons I like PI fiction. Inherent may be too strong of a word, but... Crossfire felt like a well drawn television episode. I enjoyed it.