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Editorial Reviews Review

Michael McGill is a burned-out private detective who suddenly becomes enlisted by an army of presidential goons to retrieve the Constitution of the United States, but not the one we all know about. This would be the real Constitution (the one with invisible amendments) created by some of the Founding Fathers as a fallback for their great experiment. Along the way, McGill gains a polyamorous sidekick named Trix, gets scared to death by what men do with warm salty water, and descends into a world where crime, sex, and madness all seem to be the same thing.

Full of mind-bending style and packed with a wild cast of characters, Crooked Little Vein infuses Robert B. Parker with Kurt Vonnegut and the madness of the graphic-novel world. A surprisingly surreal treat, it will appeal to hardcore comic fans, mystery aficionados, and all readers looking for a riotous summer reading adventure.

Sample Chapter One of Crooked Little Vein

"Chapter One. I opened my eyes to see the rat taking a piss in my coffee mug. It was a huge brown bastard; had a body like a turd with legs and beady black eyes full of secret rat knowledge."

Crooked Little Vein puts you right in the gutter from the first sentence and doesn't let up. Sample the goods with a look at the complete first chapter, and see if you don't get hooked.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Skillful investigator Mike McGill has just been hired by the heroin-injecting chief of staffto reclaim a secret constitution, and his adventures lead him into a level of hell even Dante couldn't imagine. Eloquent and charming serial killers, genital-modifying policemen and reptilian porn fans challenge McGill's sanity as he seeks to retrieve the precious document. Ellis both mocks and pays tribute to the detective genre with this deliciously perverse tale of American fetishism. McLaren embodies McGill with all the investigator'swit and cynicism. His reading makes McGill's resigned disposition toward these events even more prescient through timing, tone and emphasis. Listeners can hear in McLaren's voice resistance clash against acquiescence as McGill contends with the more surreal aspects of life. Even the more exotic characters of the novel aren't turned into vocal caricatures but provided a quality and realistic voice that adds a deeper level of insanity to the individuals and the novel.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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"Soil" by Julie Kornegay
Drawing on elements of dark comedy and modern dysfunction, Kornegay’s novel is about the gravitational pull of one man’s apocalypse and the hope that maybe he can be reeled in from the brink. See more

Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061252050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061252051
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Warren Ellis is the award-winning writer of graphic novels like TRANSMETROPOLITAN, FELL, MINISTRY OF SPACE and PLANETARY, and the author of the NYT-bestselling GUN MACHINE (being adapted for TV by Microsoft Xbox) and the "underground classic" novel CROOKED LITTLE VEIN. The movie RED is based on his graphic novel of the same name, its sequel having been released in summer 2013. His GRAVEL books are in development for film at Legendary Pictures. IRON MAN 3 is based on his Marvel Comics graphic novel IRON MAN: EXTREMIS. He's also written extensively for VICE, WIRED UK and Reuters on technological and cultural matters. Warren Ellis is currently working on a non-fiction book about the future of the city for Farrar Giroux Straus.

His newest publication is the digital short-story single DEAD PIG COLLECTOR, from FSG Originals. His next book will be the novella NORMAL, also from FSG.

A documentary about his work, CAPTURED GHOSTS, was released in 2012.

Recognitions include the NUIG Literary and Debating Society's President's Medal for service to freedom of speech, the EAGLE AWARDS Roll Of Honour for lifetime achievement in the field of comics & graphic novels, the Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire 2010, the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and the International Horror Guild Award for illustrated narrative.

Warren Ellis lives outside London, on the south-east coast of England, in case he needs to make a quick getaway.

Customer Reviews

Which is what makes this book so damn good!
Mr. Ben
The plot of the book is wafer thin and the characters are two-dimensional cardboard cut-outs.
Crooked Little Vein is every page as amazing and pure Warren Ellis as it can get.
P. Fernandez Setien

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I figure that someone recommended this title to me, as it's not the type of book I would normally pick up on my own... Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis. I don't think I'd necessarily say it was the best novel I've ever read, and I'd be cautious to recommend it to someone due to its very raw nature. But in terms of creative and unique writing style, this ranks right up there.

The story involves Michael McGill, a struggling private investigator in New York, who is described as a "s..t magnet". Because of his unwanted ability to turn up in situations involving the seamy, ugly part of human activities, he's hired to track down a special book. The book is an alternative Constitution to be used if and when the original version stops influencing society. A whacked-out chief of staff to the President brings him up-to-date on what the government knows, and McGill has to pick up the cold thread from there. Half a million dollars for expenses and a tattooed girlfriend with unique views on sexuality, and he's off on a cross-country trip that exposes him to practices and kinks that he didn't know existed. Along the way, he has to confront his ideas as to what is right and wrong, what should and shouldn't be allowed in a free society.

The book isn't overly long (280 pages in a format about 2/3 the page size of a regular book), so the read is quick. The language would give it an R rating from page 1 if this were a movie. And the kinky practices... These are some things I've never heard of nor imagined. What's scary is that a search of the internet confirmed that these things are truly fetish practices, complete with pictures (e[...]) There's a deeper message that Ellis is trying to convey (I think), but it's definitely not a message or philosophy that would mesh with my own.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jason Wayne Jacobs on October 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis, the same guy who wrote the comic series Transmetropolitan among others. I had really really looked forward to this book, and I tore through it in the same of about 2 hours.

Which makes me all the more sad to say that I was disappointed in it. It felt like Transmet's little brother, who hadn't grown enough plot to stand on it's own two feet yet. The storyline is a parade of 'underground' fetishes, with a special float dedicated to the wonders of technology thrown in right after the marching band of bukkake fans. I kept wondering why the hell a private detective would have been put on the case, when the 'leads' were a straight line that a community college criminal justice major could have followed, much less the combined powers of the government spooks. And while the dialogue was entertaining, I didn't feel any kind of attachment to the two dimensional characters either.

I did find Ellis' writing style to be intriguing and the book certainly sucks you in, though I think that's more because I kept wanting to see what bizarreness is going to pop up next and hoping maybe it will start to have some meaning.

I'm sure that some with argue that there are plenty of themes and metaphors and deep universal truths to be found in the book, and maybe so, but it still feels watered down compared to what I was hoping for. That said, if you're not as jaded to the multitude of sexual deviances as I am, it's certainly worth a read for the amusing sideshow, if nothing else.
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62 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Chris B on September 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The more I think about the book, the less I like it. It was a quick read and I enjoyed reading it, to be sure, but as I think on it, there really isn't much going on there.

Take away the fetishes and you're left with an ostensible mystery in which the heroes are handed the exact clue they were looking for at the right time without any real pitfalls or dead ends. It's well written, but that's not enough to disguise a plot that is little more than very kinky ride at Disneyland: it may appear dangerous and edgy at first glance, but really you're on rails for a guided tour. "The Godzilla fetishists are chasing us! Whew! That was close, wasn't it?"

Not even close. Our Heroes move from plot point to plot point without any sense of tension or dread, just an ever diminishing sense of shock.

I'm glad I read it, I guess, but I wouldn't exactly want to recommend it to anyone else.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JD on August 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ok I nearly put this book down after reading the first page about a rat pissing in our hero's (anti-hero's?) coffee-I have a thing about rats- but I'm glad I didn't. I became so engrossed in the book I read it in one sitting. While a quick, funny read, this book also touches on some important issues about our country and culture. What is "underground" in a society where anyone has access to the internet can find information about anything no matter how disturbing to some? Shouldn't tolerance and diversity not conformity be considered our strength? If you have a weak stomach or closed mind stay away, otherwise I think you'll find this a thouroughly enjoyable and thought provoking book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By P. McGinty on August 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
...though it is embarrassingly short. By god, I've had bowel movements that lasted longer than it took me to read this book. And I'm a ponderous reader with a mightily efficacious GI tract.

A moment for a major qualm: Ellis seems a little too eager to, you know, really "push the envelope" of taste & co., and this novel--strike that, this novella--is rife with "lurid" and "in-your-face" descriptions of "unnatural" or "perverse" acts. The majority of this material is too obviously endweighted for shock effect. And I don't think that the modern reader really can be shocked, inasmuch as s/he wants to be. Instead, there's this niggling sensation that one is supposed to be shocked, that the author wants this reaction, and thus the reader is kind of slapped in the face with the artifice of the story.

Then again, cultural approbation and acclimation are underlying themes of this novella, as is the supervening relationship between culture and technology. More here than in any of Ellis' other works, you get the sense of an emerging thesis--that we are all of us only catching on to the possibilities of an ever-emerging world for which we are never fully prepared, etc.

There are approximately two people and one human relationship in the novel; everything else is a glorious cartoon, and to be taken as such. The two main characters--Mike the protag and his galpal Trix--are real enough for as short a story as this is. And because the book's so short, their relationship seems a little too fast. Ellis gets us from zero to love in about 240 pages; that's slower than Harlequin, but almost double the speed of mainstream chick lit. But we're not reading it for the romance, are we?

No, we're reading it because it's funny.
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