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Crooked Little Vein

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  6,490 ratings  ·  931 reviews
Welcome to the limited edition of graphic novelist Warren Ellis's debut novel, about which Publishers Weekly trumpets “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.”
Hardcover, signed limited to 500 numbered copies, 226 pages
Published 2008 by Subterranean Press (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Faint-hearts and the offendable might just want to sit this one out…the book, mind you, not this review. Acclaimed comics writer Warren Ellis cranks up the “ick” factor to about 11 and delivers a hysterical noir, mystery travelogue through the oddest, most depraved nooks and crannies of the American psyche. It is dark, twisted and no-holds barred...and it is also very, VERY funny.

To give you a sample of the agenda items Ellis uses in his carnival of oddballities, you will will find:

**A group o
mark monday
and shit and shitting and porn and godzilla and bukkake and godzilla bukkake and saline-injected testicles and shit and rats and dirt and grubby porn theatres and shit and tantric ostrich sex and date rape drugs and tantric ostrich sex via date rape drugs and shit and shitting and and and and and

 photo notthisagain_zps0fc45ac3.jpg

forgive me, it's all a little tiring.

this is a bizarro private detective novel concerning a missing alternate version of the U.S. constitution, filtered through sleazy grindhouse movies and William S. B
Well, this is just all kinds of messed up…..

Mike McGill is a private detective with bizarre luck that has him constantly getting mixed up in things he’d rather not know about like guys who have sex with ostriches. The creepy and corrupt White House chief of staff wants to use Mike’s tendency to be a ‘shit magnet’ to help him track down a book that contains the Secret Constitution of the United States that the administration will use to stop all the weirdness that has been going on since Nixon ga
Aug 06, 2007 Toby rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: few
Wow, was this book disappointing. What should have been Ellis's introduction to the print world became a collection of hey-guys-look-at-this-crazy-shit-I-found-on-the-internet-and-posted-on-my-blog-already, strung together by the thinnest of narratives. There are occasional sentences that smack of the author's way with words, but it's hardly worth the trudge through the rest of the book.
Mike McGill is a self-professed shit magnet and as an independent private investigator, he’s brought some bizzare work by some even stranger clientele. However, nothing holds a candle to the job he’s been hired for by the president’s heroin-addicted chief of staff. Tasked with tracking down a secret second constitution, Mike is about to push his sanity to its absolute breaking point; to a place he may never return from.

If watching a copy of Godzilla spliced with audio from a porno seems like you
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
May 25, 2013 Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Judith, Michael Seidlinger
Recommended to Richard Reviles Censorship by: Dan, Stephen
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Book Report: How bad can a day get? Mike McGill can tell you, and he'd be right. But he doesn't know *exactly* how bad a day can be until the White House Chief of Staff (bear in mind the book came out in 2007, adjust your mental compass, and go from there) walks into his office with a deal he can't refuse.

Hey, after waking up naked in your office chair with a rat pissing in your coffee mug, why would anyone refuse any deal?

So Mike gets a half million dollars in expense mo
Rarely do I pay attention to cover blurbs on books. However, one of the blurbs on the back cover of this book reads "Warren Ellis writes like a bipolar Raymond Chandler." Wow, count me in...

One of my friends refers to books like this as "literary Skittles" - which means that it is a really fun read that contains little to no literary edification.

Mike McGill is a down-on-his-luck, small time private eye who gets roped into searching for a lost copy of the US Constitution. The Macguffin is in fact
Bryant Durrell
Warren Ellis reads the Internet, and if I didn't read the Internet I could learn a lot about the perverse side of society by reading this book. Unfortunately, I do read the Internet, so it's not really news.

And then there's the point at which a bunch of people tell the protagonist he needs to shut up and participate in their particular kink or they won't give him the information they need. This is not depicted as a negative thing, oddly. Isn't there a word for that?
Noah Soudrette
Nov 21, 2007 Noah Soudrette rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Warren Ellis fans, comic book fans, pulp fans, and fans of bizzare sexual practices
Boy, where do I start with this one? First off, let me warn those who find certain fetishes, or sexual behaviors, to be weird or disturbing, that this novel may bother you greatly. However, it also may change how you view "weird" sexuality. It's not that this book is only about sex. It's not. It's just mostly about sex. What people find pleasurable in a sexual context varies wildly here. We see everything from Godzilla porn, to saline injections into the testicles and labia, to STD Russian roul ...more
Dan Schwent
Down and out detective Michael McGill gets hired by a shady government type to find the Constituition. The real Constituition. McGill's case takes him deeper and deeper into a bizarre subculture of sex and drugs. Can he find the Constituition AND maintain his sanity?

I bought this in an airport a few years ago and devoured it on a three hour flight. I was a big fan of Ellis's after reading the Transmetropolitan comic for a couple years and wanted to see what he could do with a novel.

Ellis surpris
Jason Pettus
(My full review of this book is much longer than GoodReads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

All hail Warren Ellis! Er, don't smack me for saying that, Mr. Ellis! For that's a big reason why so many people so passionately love this "weird" author, gonzo blogger and comics veteran; because he takes no sh-t, rarely grants interviews, calls people to the carpet in public when they're in the wrong, and will pursue
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 fetis ...more
Hard-boiled, down-on-his-luck, borderline alcoholic chain-smoking detective meets young, promiscuous female ambassador of Lower East Side counterculture. Adventure and rancid dick jokes inevitably ensue.

I love Ellis. Love the man. He's a mix of Thompson with more animus and Vonnegut without that pesky undercurrent of charming humanism. That said, this novel will not for a second surprise anyone familiar with his work. 'Crooked Little Vein' has a well-fueled plot engine, scenes that could only sp
Nov 10, 2007 ally rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
like a really horrible, pretentious attempt at a Penny Dreadful. trying to be sick and weird for the sake of being sick and weird. any point/lesson was blatant and repeated/shoved down throat. painful to read
Kevin Farrell
Hell of a book. Very offensive to some. Not to me. I was highly entertained by the violence and sexual bizarreness that is on every page of this book. I read it in two sittings with some time off for sleep.

It was funny and sickening at the same time. I look forward to more from this author. Not recommended for everyone. If you like Palahniuk or Bukowski then COME ON DOWN and read this right now.
AKA Hey Kids, Check Out Uncle Warren's Browser History!
AKA When In Doubt Have A Man Come Through The Door
AKA The MacGuffin... Is My Butt

Seven years old and already dated. But for the cutting 9/11 references it reads Clinton era, at times painfully so.

The characters are crayon sketches, the noir narration desperate and the plot threadbare while Ellis' satirical efforts extend to some sick burns on the religious right and uh, talk-radio. Nothing in this book is going to shock anyone who uses a co
Christina Wilder
Crooked Little Vein is without a doubt the weirdest book I've ever read, and easily among the most fun (and disturbing). The back cover, filled with reviews from other authors, is enough to dare anyone to read it: "I think this book ate my soul", confessed Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer series creator), and William Gibson, author of Spooked Country gave more of a plea than a review: "Stop it. You're frightening me."
What makes Crooked Little Vein so odd is that it centers around normalized
Nov 30, 2007 Rose rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: illustrate a point.
I'm still not sure why I read this. Probably because I really enjoy a lot of the comics he's behind: Hellblazer is one of my favorite series, Planetary and The Authority were well-done, and Global Frequency was great if disappointingly short-lived. There's a lot I don't like about his comic book work, too: it's over-the-top, immature, kind of misogynist and pretty egoistical. As it turned out, I disliked Crooked Little Vein for the same reasons. Purple prose, one-dimensional characters masquerad ...more

In the interest of full disclosure, I listened to this as an Audiobook. I usually don't do that on my first read-through of a book.

Simply said, I really enjoyed this book, as I tend to enjoy most of Ellis' work. It has his familiar irreverent humor, and the clever sharp-edged social satire that I've come to love from him.

Fair warning: Ellis is not for everyone. If you are the sort of person who is offended at frank and open discussions of alternative sexuality, this probably isn't for you.


Page 3: "Called" instead of "named." [This, page 3, is when I thought to myself, "Oh maybe the author is British" and did a quick google to confirm. "Silly Warren Ellis," I thought, "Here in America we say people are NAMED Bob, not CALLED Bob." Little did I know what I was in for.]

Page 7: "Drink problem" instead of "drinking problem."

Page 21: "At Thanksgiving" instead of "on Thanksgiving."

Page 26: "Neckbits." [Ah
The more I think about this book, the more I hate it.

The back of the book promised that our hero would be traveling through "America's underbelly" to restore "God, civility, and Mom's apple pie". A back like that promises substance and satire.

Instead, this book was our intrepid hero running into different groups of people with bizarre fetishes. Ellis's idea of black comedy comes from having characters nonchalantly discuss their bizarre fetishes, which is funny, you see, because fetishes exist. I
Randal Cooper
Five years ago when Crooked Little Vein came out the internet was abuzz with folks tripping over themselves in order to praise Warren Ellis for his edginess and audacity. Those people were idiots.

CLV is written as one man's trip through a freakshow nightmare, but behind every page you can see Ellis working hard to mock a version of America he's developed by reading combinations of internet fetish sites, the collected works of Hunter S. Thompson, and letters of adulation from his fans. The plot m
Ron Bird Jr
I found out about A Crooked Little Vain in my Library's Book Club and loved it so much I just had to buy it. Warren Ellis does a fine job in this fast reading book. I am a fan of the old "hard boiled detective" novels of the likes of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett and of these types of Film - Noir. In Crooked Little Vain you see a hint of these down on their luck detectives in Michael McGill PI.

This book can also offend the sensitivities of many in these politically correct times. Crooked
Crooked Little Vein is a horribly written book that I dare say succeeds in spite of itself. A flawed, but nonetheless entertaining story told through amateurish prose. And let me be clear: the story is not good; it is simply entertaining...but entertaining enough to work. I don't know how to effectively describe Crooked Little Vein in a way that gives equal weight to the poor quality of the writing, the mediocrity of the story from a literary standpoint and the entertainment value of the story f ...more
Aug 28, 2007 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rob Pete Sarah
Shelves: 2007_read
Look, if you've read any Warren Ellis, then you've read this book. However, the structure of this first novel was more like an episode of The Family Guy than Transmetropolitan. Similarly to Transmet however, there is a lot of preachy bits on societal sub-cultures, but not as well done. The story is frormed around a very thin treasure-hunt plot with endless "cut-scenes". It wasn't a bad novel -- in fact, it is wholly recognizable as something Ellis might write... but maybe too much so.
sonny (no longer in use)
I finished this in one sitting, so bloody funny.
Carlos Lavín
I usually try to avoid (and fail, miserably) reading reviews of books that make me want to write some comment about them myself because one of the things that tends to happen is that after reading 5 or 10 reviews I get the feeling that everyone else already wrote what I wanted to say about the book so, really, what's the point.

This did not happen with Crooked Little Vein.

From what I see, most of the reviewers are focusing on how insanely fun this book is (which it is) and how very very weird the
In the words of Becky from Clerks 2, "I'm disgusted and repulsed and...and I can't look away."

Private Investigator Mike McGill has some of the worst luck imaginable. Every case he gets leads to him discovering something new about America's fucked up underbelly. When the Chief of Staff comes into his office and offers him half a million dollars to use his "shit magnetism" to track down the lost book of the Constitution in an attempt to reform the morals of America, Mike reluctantly agrees. With t
Miami University Libraries
"Crooked Little Vein" is a darkly satirical, wildly explicit, barely serious crime novel that I found to be ridiculously humorous in places – and I am no big fan of humorous novels . The plot is straightforward enough, and there is an attempt, all too obvious, to summarize the politics and issues of contemporary America. But really, the novel works best as a genre-influenced joyride. Warren Ellis' style is not entirely unlike Andrew Vachss mixed with Mark Twain's wit and William Gibson’s technol ...more
Margaret Killjoy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Has written comics & graphic novels, books, journalism, animation, tv, film, videogames and anything else that looks like it might pay a bill or buy whisky.

Second novel, GUN MACHINE, due from Mulholland Books in autumn of 2012.

First non-fiction book due from FSG in 2014.

Currently a weekly columnist for VICE UK.


More about Warren Ellis...
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street (Transmetropolitan, #1) Transmetropolitan, Vol. 2: Lust for Life (Transmetropolitan, #2) Transmetropolitan, Vol. 3: Year of the Bastard (Transmetropolitan, #3) Planetary, Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories Transmetropolitan, Vol. 5: Lonely City (Transmetropolitan, #5)

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