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Crooked Little Vein: A Novel [Hardcover]

Warren Ellis
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 12 2007

Burned-out private detective and self-styled shit magnet Michael McGill needed a wake-up call to jump-start his dead career. What he got was a virtual cattle prod to the crotch, in the form of an impossible assignment delivered directly from the president's heroin-addict chief of staff. It seems the Constitution of the United States has some skeletons in its closet: the Founding Fathers doubted that the document would be able to stave off human nature indefinitely, so they devised a backup Constitution to deploy at the first sign of crisis. In the government's eyes, that time is now, as America is overgrown with perverts who spend more time surfing the Web for fetish porn than they do reading a newspaper. They want to use this "Secret Constitution" to drive the country back to a time when civility, God, and mom's homemade apple pie were all that mattered.

The only problem is, no one can seem to find it . . .

So who better to track it down than a private dick who's so down-and-out that he's coming up the other side, a shamus whose only skill is stumbling into every depraved situation imaginable?

With no lead to speak of, and no knowledge of the underground world in which the Constitution has traveled, McGill embarks on a cross-country odyssey of America's darkest, dankest underbelly. Along the way, his white-bread sensibilities are treated to a smorgasbord of depravity that runs the gamut of human imagination. The filth mounts; it is clear that this isn't the kind of life, liberty, or happiness that Thomas Jefferson thought Americans would enjoy in the twenty-first century.

But what McGill learns as he closes in on the real Constitution is that freedom takes many forms, the most important of which may be the fight against the "good old days." Like Vonnegut, Orwell, and Huxley before him, Warren Ellis deftly exposes the hypocrisy of the "moral majority" by giving us a glimpse at the monstrous outcome that their overzealous policies would achieve.

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Product Description

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.

From Booklist

Comics scribe Ellis has cartoonish fun with his debut novel, which satirizes America's dark underbelly and the authoritarian government out to carve it loose. Private eye Michael McGill doesn't think his luck could get much worse, until the president's chief of staff (think a heroin-addled Dick Cheney) hires him to track down a secret second U.S. Constitution written by the Founding Fathers—a sort of practical manual for future White House occupants. The document, which might help purify the nation's wayward populace, ironically has become black-market currency exchanged among power brokers seeking increasingly perverse thrills. This leads McGill and wholesome sex-freak sidekick Trix into a series of encounters straight out of a junior-high session of "You know what's grosser than gross?" Readers who appreciate the two nipple jokes in the first chapter can settle in and enjoy the ride. But they also should know Ellis doesn't trust them very much. He bangs away at the book's thesis—that the Internet has turned underground culture into mainstream fare—like a drunk repeatedly shouting out a joke to departing patrons at closing time. Sennett, Frank

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Debut novel! July 26 2007
Sometimes I get so tired of the traditional drivel we are fed as readers, but every once in awhile a new voice comes along that knocks my socks off and reminds me of why I read! Warren Ellis is a take no prisoners, tell it like its author-and this is his debut effort! Read the firsts chapter, heck, read the first line. "I opened my eyes to see the rat taking a piss in my coffee mug." And then try and stop! I bet you can't do it.

Ellis creates a wonderfully twisted mad world steeped in crime and sex. The humor is sharp and kept me laughing, nothing is sacred. This is the story of Michael McGill, a burned out PI who finds himself practically forced to try and find the original Constitution of the United States. No not the one we all know, this is the real one with certain hidden amendments the Founding fathers put in as safety net if the great experiment did not work. That's the basic plot premise but there is so much more going on here, but trying to explain it would be silly, and if I did accomplish this it would ruin the story. The strength and joy of this book however is in the strange and twisted characters that populate its pages. Highly recommended! Best debut book I have read since ACROSS THE HIGH LONESOME Another great read populated with interesting characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious! May 28 2009
This book was recommended to me by another fan of twisted, ironic novels. Absolutely not for the faint of heart. Not even for the slightly squeamish. Eel and/or ostrich rights activists should probably take a pass. Dark, gripping and thoroughly twisted - couldn't put it down.

General public - this book will destroy your soul. If you're all read up on the latest Diana Gabaldon, Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer, chances are this is not for you.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hlb is an idiot Sept. 26 2008
To HLB, how can you criticize a book without reading it?
Go back to what ever hole you crawled out of and go back to reading
Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy or whatever mainstream garbage you like.

Warren Ellis doesn't follow the rules when it comes to writing, that's why
most people don't get him. It takes a lot of imagination and faith
to read a book like "Crooked little vein", you have to set aside your
preconceived ideas what literature should be and dive right in.

I have read everything Ellis has done in comics and look forward to
many more books, especially if they are even half as good as "Crooked
Little Vein"

HLB is an idiot.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant; a mystery that defies description and sucks up your life until it's completed. A perfect read for those who need something to tear them away from the computer, but wish their brains, philosophical souls, and their loins stimulated in equal measure. Stop reading my words and start reading Ellis' instead. You'll buy me a bottle of whisky later in thanks for the recommendation. No, I'm serious: buy me the f***ing liquor, you douche bag!
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