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Crooked Little Vein Paperback – July 22, 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 147 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of this dark, demented fiction debut from Ellis, the creator of DC Comics' Transmetropolitan and The Authority, the U.S. president's heroin-addicted chief of staff hires 25-year-old Lower East Side PI Mike McGill to find the other Constitution. This is a secret document privately authored by several of the Founders detailing the real intent of their design for American society, which a debauched vice-president Nixon lost in the '50s. With half a mill in black ops money, Mike hires cute tattooed Trix Holmes to be his guide to America's deviant underworld, whence the 50-year-old cold trail begins. In their search for the missing document, reputedly bound in the skin of the extraterrestrial entity that plagued Benjamin Franklin's ass over six nights in Paris, the pair make some wild pit stops in Columbus, Ohio; San Antonio, Tex.; Vegas; and, finally, L.A. The home of the free and the land of the brave has rarely looked so creepy in this snappily paced homage to William Burroughs's Naked Lunch. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
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Product Details

  • 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: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ellis' writing is always a treat, and this particular novel seems like it could be set in the world of his Transmetropolitan comics, which is of course wonderful. Definitely a novel for adults, possibly those who are not easily offended - there is a lot of lewdness, discussion and description of fetishes, genitalia, and sex. But it all fits into the framework of the story very well. One of the few novels I've read where the main character is both well-developed, and still largely a secret even to the reader seeing much of the story through that character's eyes. All sorts of twists and turns, outrageous occurrences, a good dose of (sometimes sardonic or self-deprecating) humor, down 'n' dirty descriptions of rough neighborhoods, eccentric folks, very bawdy events, and a whole lot of bad (or, perhaps, good) luck.

My big caution here, outside of 'too sexual/unflinching/weird for children', is that transfeminine characters are depicted at one point, and transphobic language is used by the characters involved. Referring to them as 'actually men' etc. It's not too egregious and it's very clearly the main character reacting in his usual form to a situation he's unfamiliar with - not the author's opinion of trans folk, or so I would assume. Tread carefully if such a thing may upset you though!
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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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