When the body of Bobby Gant, head of research and development for a local outdoor clothing manufacturer, is found tied to the rocks below the high tide line at the foot of the cliffs of Arbroath, a stretched Police Scotland find themselves with no-one to head the investigation.
Tom Guthrie found retirement from the police difficult to deal with, so he started a private investigation company and ended up consulting to his former employer.
His assignment to the Gant murder case is not well received by some of those he used to work with. Guthrie's liaison — Alisdair McEwan, a fresh-faced and sometimes over-enthusiastic officer, desperately wants to impress, but the pair run into a web of lies, and less than helpful colleagues of the murdered man. In the midst of his frustration with the lack of progress in the murder investigation, a fire in an empty warehouse kills a homeless man. This is dumped in Guthrie's lap — and he's not too pleased. The second investigation threatens to derail the murder case.
Guthrie now has to juggle two deaths, a young partner, an antagonistic boss, and an unexpected relationship.
Tools of the Trade is the first full-length outing for Tom Guthrie. Set in the atmospheric surroundings of Angus in the east of Scotland, the weather, the buildings, and the people all play their part to help — and hinder — Guthrie in his task of solving a murder.