Benny Bunt is an ex-speed freak, a helplessly dominated husband, a misfit on the sun-bleached, fog-drenched streets of Southern California, and a barfly who makes pocket money snitching on his friends. You will like him. 'Everybody 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 neighbourhood dive teeming with 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 is said to have lobotomized a gang of Viet Cong with a single chopstick. Benny soon finds himself entranced by this twisted Falstaffian personality. Six months later, Benny is arrested on suspicion of double murder after attending the freak 'Howling Head' festival in the Mojave Desert. Goffard, a reporter for the "Los Angeles Times", now lends his considerable talent to fiction, bringing to life the darker side of west coast counter-culture through a colourful array of bizarre, ribald characters.
"Snitch Jacket" will be a delight for fans of Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen and Hunter S Thompson, and Benny Bunt will definitely give the Coen brothers' The Dude a run for his money.
Christopher Goffard is a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times. This is his first novel. He lives with his family in Southern California.