Not sure where this fits in the order of Elvis Cole books.
Elvis is at home late at night, unable to sleep. He gets a call from LAPD detective asking him to come to a crime scene. Dead guy in alley was found by cop shortly before expiration and claimed Elvis was his son. Elvis shows up, does not know the guy, does not look like the guy. Elvis wants to know what was going on.
Reader finds out much more about Elvis as a child. His mom was mentally ill and would disappear for days or months at a time. On one return she shows up pregnant. Years later Elvis is a kid and asks who his dad is. Mom says dad was a human cannonball. Whenever young Elvis hears about a carnival or circus he skips town looking to see if their is a human cannonball and if it is his dad. Elvis is looking hard for a father. His mother is a mess and his grandfather and aunt do not take good care of him.
Contemporary Elvis digs around to identify the John Doe murder victim. Dead guy covered in religious tattoos. At the same time a colleague/employee/friend (we don't know) of the dead guy is trying to find dead guy. Dead guy went to LA and friend afraid dead guy will spill beans about "something".
Things happen. Elvis pulls the standard PI plot of getting his police pals, crime scene pals, and DMV pals to help him out. Elvis had left behind his need to find his father and now that need is pulling him again. Lady cop pines for Elvis. Elvis pines for girlfriend who left him. Pike pines for his Python. Elvis cracks the case. Elvis finds lady cop who found dead guy actually killed him. Elvis and lady cop ambushed by dead guy's pal. Pike arrives in nick of time. Elvis is in intensive care for a few weeks. Pike is all lovey-dovey by non-stop vigil at Elvis's bedside. Elvis visits his mother's grave.
1. Lady cop who killed guy was trying to set Cole up. Lady cop says (paraphrasing) "I made it up as I went along" Just like Crais with this novel.
2. Cole continues wisecracking.
3. Narrator narrates those wisecracks as wisecracks. But, you could read those Cole comments with a much darker subtext. Cole is a mostly content and happy person. But, he seems to work at being that way. Are his wise acre comments a push back against bad events or unpleasant people to maintain happiness?
4. I got started thinking about what I mention in #3. I then got off track and did not analyze it any more while listening. I cannot expand the thought.
5. Okay, here is one thought. Cole has no family besides Pike. He was forced to independence. Are wisecracks a way to keep personal demons of loneliness at bay? I don't know, I have not read that many of these novels nor do I remember them all that well. Pike, too, came from a crappy family.
6. Colt Python love.
7. Sig .45 love.