SNITCH JACKET by Christopher Goffard
Benny Bunt is an over-educated misfit, ex-speed addict, and barfly who makes pocket money snitching on his friends. You will like him.
“Everyone knows that California sunshine is the world’s loneliest light,” says Benny, who inhabits an underworld of desperados and grotesques and spends much of his free time at the Greasy Tuesday, a squalid, southern California neighborhood dive teeming with local legends.
One night, one of these legends walks through the door: Gus “Mad Dog” Miller, a huge, tattoo-laden Vietnam vet who sports a necklace of severed ears and whose job at the Greasy Tuesday is “to keep the riffraff out.” “But everyone’s riffraff here,” Benny protests. Six months later, Benny, transfixed by this twisted Falstaffian personality, is arrested on suspicion of double murder after attending the freak “Howling Head” festival in the Mojave Desert.
Combining elements of classic noir, dark comedy, and a misfit’s memoir reminiscent of Notes from Underground, Christopher Goffard, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, brings life to the darker side of west coast counter-culture in a literary crime novel that will be a delight for fans of Elmore Leonard, the Coen brothers, Carl Hiassen, and Charles Bukowski.
“Christopher Goffard sees southern California with a keen eye, and he writes with an incandescent humor that is remarkable. Pull up a seat at the narrator's favorite bar—the Greasy Tuesday—and enjoy the madness going on around you.”
—T. Jefferson Parker, author of California Girl and The Fallen
STARRED REVIEW Publishers Weekly: Snitch Jacket Christopher Goffard. Overlook/Rookery, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-58567-954-6
"In Goffard's impressive debut, a darkly comic romp through the Southern California underworld, Benny Bunt, a 41-year-old dishwasher, finds his main escape in the Greasy Tuesday, a blue-collar bar in Costa Mesa. Among the recidivist misfits, his is a harmless familiar face. What they don't know is that Benny is a snitch who earns pocket money by ratting out his buddies to the cops. Enter one Gus “Mad Dog” Miller, a massive, bearded Vietnam vet, covered with prison tattoos; Gus holds court at the bar with outrageous tales of his exploits, military and criminal. Gus soon becomes Benny's best friend, and seeks his assistance in a contract killing. Only problem is, the police “botch” their surveillance and Benny ends up taking the fall for a double homicide committed at the Howling Head festival in the Mojave desert. Goffard's prose shimmers with intelligence and humor, and he has a keen ear for telling detail. Fans of such cultish neo-noir scribes such as Charlie Huston and Duane Swierczynski will be richly rewarded. (Oct.)"
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