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Crooked Little Vein

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,583 Ratings  ·  1,017 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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(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 it was ok  ·  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 Derus
May 25, 2013 Richard Derus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Judith, Michael Seidlinger
Recommended to Richard 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
Bryant Durrell
Aug 28, 2007 Bryant Durrell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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?
Jul 16, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Noah Soudrette
Nov 21, 2007 Noah Soudrette rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Aug 23, 2010 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-weird
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
Jan 02, 2008 Jason Pettus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(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
Jul 19, 2007 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 30, 2007 Rosamund rated it it was ok  ·  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
Nov 10, 2007 ally rated it did not like it  ·  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
Dec 27, 2015 Karl rated it really liked it
This copy is 201 of 500
Kevin Farrell
Feb 28, 2012 Kevin Farrell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 28, 2015 Virginia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
It's not that it isn't well written or interesting. I mean, it's ok. I'm a pretty crass and vulgar and somewhat disgusting person. However even I have my limits and it wasn't the alternative sex choices. It was the whole thing. I just didn't see the point. Especially why it had to be so foul. And if I say that it? It is its own special kind of foul.
Kaylyssa Hughes

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
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
Jun 03, 2009 Katie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 15, 2010 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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.

Jan 24, 2014 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 13, 2013 Toki rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was just...distasteful. It was supposed to be a mystery, right? I mean, the protagonist is a private detective. He got a case. He had to go find something. He was hot on the trail. But how? Did the godzilla bukkake distract me from the clues that led him to saline in his balls? And his "love interest?" Pfffft. The Roanokes. Chatting up a serial killer on an airplane and getting drunk in the midst of it. How believable is that, anyway? If I were a PI, and some guy just admitted to me th ...more
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
Jul 21, 2012 Ron Bird Jr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-have
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
Aug 10, 2011 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
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 liked it  ·  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.
Kirk Macleod
Sep 01, 2015 Kirk Macleod rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, so think of a hard-boiled detective story, mix in a healthy dollop of Hunter S. Thompson and understand it's written by the fellow who wrote Transmetropolitan, and you'll have a pretty good idea of where this novel is going to start.

The book follows a private investigator named Michael McGill who goes on one of the craziest cases I think I've ever come across. His case (don't worry, spoilers will be limited to the first thirty pages) is to track down a secret "second" United States Constit
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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 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 graphic novel GLOBAL FREQUENCY is in development at Jerry ...more
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“He'd always liked women who'd talk back to him just a little bit. "Girls with balls" were good. Women with an actual mind of their own who could prove him wrong in something were, of course, castrating bitches who should be drowned in bottomless wells.” 69 likes
“Shopping for clothes is a Boyfriend Thing. You stand around and look blankly at a bunch of pieces of fabric and you look at the price tags and you wonder how something that'd barely cover your right nut can cost the price of a kidney and you watch the shop assistants check you out and wonder what you're doing with her because she's cute and you're kind of funny-looking and she tries clothes on and you look at her ass in a dozen different items that all look exactly the same and let's face it you're just looking at her ass anyway and it all blurs together and then someone sticks a vacuum cleaner in your wallet and vacuums out all the cash and you leave the store with one bag so small that mice couldn't fuck in it. Repeat a dozen times or until the front of your brain dies.” 19 likes
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