Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis

Posted March 21, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 0 Comments

Crooked Little Vein by Warren EllisTitle: Crooked Little Vein (Goodreads)
Author: Warren Ellis
Published: William Morrow, 2012
Pages: 288
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Michael McGill, is a former Pinkerton detective, now burned out and trying to jump start his career as a self-employed PI. A self-described ‘shit magnet’ he has a strange ability to wind up in the weirdest situations whether related to a current case or not. Hired by the corrupt White House Chief of Staff to find the second ‘secret’ US Constitution, McGill finds himself on this unusual scavenger hunt across America. He is joined by a college student, Trix, who is writing a thesis on sexual fetishes as they explore the underbelly of American through this Crooked Little Vein.

I picked up Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis because while I like the idea of a weird take on the hard-boiled genre, I was eagerly anticipating the release of his new novel Gun Machine, which I’ve since read (review to come). I was pleasantly surprised but this novel and his hard-boiled style, but then I was weirded out by all the weird fetishes, that I had no idea existed.

Michael McGill finds himself with this bizarre case and what follows is just plain crazy; the term ‘shit-magnet’ is the only way to describe this washed up detective. McGill is a great character, trying hard to jump start his solo career as a private detective. Then you have Trix, the not so typical side-kick who’s current relationship status must be confusing to her as well. These two misfits struggle against the odds as they track through the seedy underworld to find this missing second United States Constitution.

This is not a typical Hard-Boiled novel; obviously, it blends elements of the genre with Ellis’ own unique brand of bizarre and dark humour. In the end this was just a slightly odd but thoroughly enjoyable novel. While it is hard to explain of the weird and wonderful things that happen in this novel at the risk of making this review NSFW, I think this book was just fresh and exciting but the narrative is not as strong as it should be.

This is the first novel by Warren Ellis whose main focus is comic book writing, so you have to forgive him for missing a strong narrative. His writing style seems to rely heavily on a visual aspect and while most of the imagery seems to work well, I can only hope he improves with his other novels. Having already read his latest, you’ll be pleased to know it has.

Ellis has spent way too much time on the internet, because he’s managed to research the weirdest sexual fetishes possible and then compile them into this one little book. This isn’t really a graphically explicit book, you will find out about some fetishes they you probably didn’t know existed but overall this book is pretty tame; just disturbing to think that people do these things for fun.

Crooked Little Vein is an odd book and it should be treated as such. The dark comedy in the book makes it worth reading alone, and then you have this really strange take on the pulp genre as an added bonus. Sure this book is never going to be for everyone but I’m glad I read and enjoyed it.

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