A few twists and turns fail to lift this unimaginative novel out of boredom and turgidity.
A predictable assortment of lowlifes inhabits the book. The narrator is Benny Bunt, the “snitch” of the title, a denizen of the Greasy Tuesday, a dive housing a collection of other lowlifes. Benny is a fount of arcane and useless information, mainly owing to his having memorized all the cards from Trivial Pursuit (which edition is uncertain). Because his marriage to Donna has become a “loveless cage,” he finds social (certainly not intellectual or sexual) fulfillment at the Tuesday. There he comes under the spell of Gus “Mad Dog” Miller, nominally a Vietnam vet and self-described badass. What brings them together as metaphorical brothers is “nothing more complicated than [Gus’s] desire to tell stories and my desire to hear them.” Problem is, Gus is both more and less complicated than he seems. After getting Benny deeply involved in a bizarre hit scheme—with appropriate but predictable allusions to The Sopranos—Gus is eventually revealed to be Gerry Finkel, a drifter and Vietnam vet manqué, who had taken over Gus’s identity in a distorted admiration to be someone who’d actually had some Real Life Experiences. To his credit, Benny retrospectively realizes that if someone says “a thing with enough fire and conviction [and adds] a few fistfuls of Svengali charisma…just about anything sounds true.” Benny bewilderingly finds himself accused of a double murder, and Walter Goins, his public defender who wears Looney Tunes and Three Stooges ties, doesn’t inspire confidence. Goffard mixes up narrative structures by including “transcripts” from Benny’s trial and a sensationalized account called Murder on the Edge!, the result of a prison interview Benny gave. This is the kind of novel with dialogue like “You’ve really lived life. I love your tats, man. You’ve done time?”
More painful than funny.