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Here follows a passage from Jeffery Deaver's Copycat short story:

"Relax, Wallace. Investigations take time. Sit back, take your jacket off. Enjoy our wonderful coffee." Wallace glanced at the closet that served as the police station's canteen. He rolled his eyes and the ominous tone of earlier was replaced with a laugh. "Funny. I didn't know they still made instant."

(The source)

And a couple of paragraphs further:

Returning to his office, he sat back, sipping the, yeah, disgusting instant coffee, and read the file…

My question is about the "yeah" ("yes") positioned after the article and enclosed by commas.

Regarding what it means, there's no doubt whatsoever.

What this literary device is called and how it may work in the like sentences and with some words other than "yes"—should you be so kind to suggest a couple of those—is what I'm expecting to get the answer to.

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    I don't have enough to really give you an answer but it's almost like a fourth wall break--like, it's you, the reader, who's thinking, that coffee is going to be disgusting and the omniscient narrator is confirming that you're right. I would probably have set it off like this: "I made the comment, and – yes, as one might expect – everyone downvoted me immediately." It's an acknowledgement of an expected outcome.
    – msouth
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 4:13

3 Answers 3

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From my reading, when Wallace says "'Funny. I didn't know they still made instant.'," he's taking a bit of a jab at Altman, basically saying "I thought everyone agreed instant coffee is so bad that we'd just stop making it." He's insulting the station's coffee, basically. (Hard to tell the extent to which this is a joke, though the nature of Wallace's character would probably hint to this if I had actually read the book.)

Then Altman goes back to his desk to sip the coffee. At this point, the narrator slips the "yeah" into the middle of the sentence to basically say that Wallace was correct in his implication about the coffee, even if it wasn't the nicest way to say it (or nicest thing to bring up at all).

A synonym might be "admittedly":

Returning to his office, he sat back, sipping the admittedly disgusting instant coffee, and read the file…

A more long-form interjection might go something like this:

Returning to his office, he sat back, sipping the instant coffee – every bit as disgusting as Wallace knew it to be, though he1 would never admit as much – and read the file…

1. I.e., Altman would never admit as much to Wallace

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It looks like a form of indirect dialogue, similar to this example:

"Hi, Tony."

Tony looked down at his shoe, dug in his toe and pushed around a pile of dust.

"Hey," he replied.

Katy braced herself. Something was wrong.

Source

Note there's no quotes or "... she thought to herself" around the something was wrong. Instead, this is a creative way to introduce internal dialogue -- thoughts, impressions, feelings, memories, etc. -- without having to mess with all the punctuation.

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    Yes, aka "free indirect style"
    – SAH
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 2:14
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I think that this is a very very small fragment of Internal Dialog. Back in his office, Jeffrey recalls his recent connversation and imagines how it might have gone differently. He imagines one version of it in which he was more honest about the coffee. Yeah is a word that the he hears in his head, perhaps as part of of the imagined converation "Yeah, its really not the best" or as imagined rebuke to himself "Yeah, I shouldn't have talked in that sarcastic way that to Wallace, he doesn't get it"

He is not examining the dialog because it is important, but just because this is the sort of things that minds do while they are idling, and also the sort of thing that authors throw out to develop character. Perhaps even just as an excuse to say the casual word "Yeah"

I can imagine any exclamation being used in the this way, dammit,of course, well now, fortunately............................

If this explanation is correct, then it does answer your question about rules rather nicely. As I understand it, there are no real rules for writing Interal Dialog, just because we cannot know very much about how other people talk to themselves,

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