Cutter and Bone

Cutter and Bone - Newton Thornburg There is a mystery at the center of this novel. But Cutter and Bone is less of a whodunit and more of a melancholy look at post-Vietnam disillusionment and weariness. The story follows two best friends who couldn't be any more different: Richard Bone, who abandoned his wife, children, and corporate job to live a dead-end life as a man-whore, mooching off of lonely women, and Alex Cutter, a severely wounded Vietnam vet, who seems desperate not to let anyone close to him. After Bone tells him that he might have witnessed a rich tycoon murder a teenage girl, Cutter becomes obsessed with it and dedicated to the idea of blackmailing him.

The truth of whether or not the tycoon really did commit the crime becomes almost completely unimportant, as is any kind of quest for justice. What becomes significant for the main characters is that the blackmail scheme gives some purpose to their dead-end lives, and for Cutter, it gives him a chance to strike back against what he sees as a symbol for all of the crap that has happened in his life.

It's a really well-written novel about desperate characters searching for significance.