A merger between private-label manufacturer Aqua Supplies, Inc. (ASI), and the Ecker Company, a mom-and-pop client of the Sloan Guaranty Trust, whose main asset is pop Conrad Ecker's uncanny knack for developing small kitchen appliances, is threatened by a suspicious fire in Ecker's record room--and then by meddlesome ASI underling Victor Hunnicut, whose paranoid determination to scuttle the merger ends only when he's skewered during a Manhattan trade show. The police start by going after Conrad's slow-horse production manager, Bob Laverdiere, whose wife Tina had overseen the books that were toasted, and then, finding no flaw in Ecker's finances, they focus on the nervous upper echelons at ASI--but it naturally takes the Sloan's genial veteran John Putnam Thatcher to spot the cleverly concealed culprit. Not as high-concept as Thatcher's recent outings (East is East, 1991, etc.), but with more memorable characters and counterplots. Above average for this blue-chip series.