The third book in my "Reread Robert Crais" project. To my eye, I think he finds his stride here.
The World's Greatest Detective, Elvis Cole's new gig seems simple enough at first: famous movie director Peter Alan Nelson had a wife (Karen) and a son (Tobey) in his pre-fame life. He dumped them both on his way to the top. And now, years later, he wants Elvis to find them again.
Since Peter Alan Nelson is "the third most successful director in the history of film" (behind Spielberg and Lucas) he is naturally a childish jerk, used to having his whims satisfied and his ego massaged. Elvis is having none of that, but he takes the job. About fifty pages of diligent detective work later, he tracks Karen and Tobey to a small town in Connecticut, just outside New York. And as it turns out, Karen wants nothing to do with her ex. In fact, she totally denies the connection.
So Elvis suspects there's something else going on. And there is, involving some pretty nasty characters. Elvis could shrug, say "not my problem", take the money and run back to LA. But no: he is a man of honor who is not himself mean, going down the mean streets. And he (with major assistance from his taciturn buddy Joe Pike) puts himself in mortal danger to find out what's going on, and concocts an against-all-odds scheme to save the day and get Karen (and her cute kid) out of a nasty jam.
Not everything goes as planned. And when I say "not everything", I mean "nothing". I hope he was paid well.
Consumer note: If you don't get the relevance of the title, you should have been paying more attention to the John Irving Diller poem at the front of the book. Then if you still don't get the relevance of the title, you're a Philistine like me.