When Bina (now serving as Da Chief) is addressing Meyer and Berko after going years without seeing either of them:
Bina: Okay, listen, boys. We're all aware of the awkwardness of the situation here. It would be awkward enough if we just used to squad together, but the fact is that one of you used to be my husband, and the other one my, uh...cousin. Well, shit. Know what I'm saying? (beat) Meyer (to Berko): You were the cousin, right?
Dennis Brennan's butchered Yiddish, which makes him sound "like a sausage recipe with footnotes".
Dennis: That I fear your wrath let us agree beforehand, Detective. And that just now I pretended not to see you walking past this desolate hole whose sole recommendation, apart from the fact that the management has forgotten, in my long absence, the state of my credit, is a total lack of newspaper reporters. I knew, however, that with my luck, such a strategy was likely to return and bite me upon the ass. Meyer: Nothing is that hungry, Brennan.
Some of Chabon's elaborate descriptions are hilarious enough in their own right, even when the situation's serious:
"Shprintzl Rudashevsky's wide face takes on a philosophical, even mystic blankness. She looks like she's wetting her pants and enjoying the warmth."
"Rabbi Heskel Shpilman is a deformed mountain, a giant ruined desert, a cartoon house with the windows shut and the sink left running. A little kid lumped him together, a mob of kids, blind orphans who never laid eyes on a man. They clumped the dough of his arms and legs to the dough of his body, then jammed his head on top. A millionaire could cover a Rolls-Royce with the fine black silk-and-velvet expanse of the Rebbe's frock coat and trousers. It would require the brain strength of the eighteen greatest sages in history to reason through the arguments against and in favor of classifying the Rebbe's massive bottom as either a creature of the deep, a man-made structure, or an unavoidable act of god."
"His throbbing pulse, his dry tongue, his autonomic systems are caught up in the tiresome history of his phobia, but the crystal set that is handed out to every Jew, tuned to receive transmissions from the Messiah, resonates at the sight of Bina's ass, the long indented arc of it like some kind of magic alphabet letter, a rune with the power to roll away the stone slab behind which he has entombed his desire for her."