Mfred's Reviews > Crooked Little Vein

Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis
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's review
Oct 11, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: mystery, noir
Read in January, 2011

When I picked up Crooked, I was looking for something that could stand up to the decreasing ability of my brain to pay attention on a 7-8 hour flight. Certain aspects of Crooked seemed to fit this criteria— mainly, I was promised:

- “dark, demented fiction debut”
- “absurdist catalog of fetish porn and depravity”
- “Not for the faint of heart”
- “scatological brilliance”

via all of the editorial comments from the first page.

However, on the long and boring bus ride to Dulles, sitting next to some painfully young European kids headed home after their internships/semeters abroad (Yes! Twenty-something Europeans are just as dumb as tweny-something Americans!), I realized…

Inescapable Truth #345: No matter the content, a poorly written book is still poorly written.

So sure, the Chief of Staff is a heroin addict. And yeah, there is a rat that pees on stuff on purpose. There are deviant sex acts and and mindless violence and conspiratorial coincidences; all sortsa crap like that. Warren Ellis just warrenellis-es all over this book.

But is it good? Not really. The main character narrates in the first person past tense, from a sort of indistinct future point. Except for when he breaks the time/space continuum and changes tense or tone, abruptly and confusingly. Booooooo! And also: cough cough writing101 cough.

The perversions are all presented in long & boring expositions. The third or fourth time a character shows up to regale me with sicko tales that also read as mini-editorials on the current state of American culture? I got it. Warren Ellis Has A Point To Make! And yet, oddly enough, for someone so willing to lovingly describe the deviant behavior of others, Ellis fades-to-black on all the love/sex scenes with his main characters. I found this rather prudish. And kind of ridiculous.

Perhaps if I had not read some other, really great neo-noir, then Crooked Little Vein would have stood out for me. Perhaps if Charlie Huston had not written a series of books that were shocking, violent, perverse, insane, and ALSO well-written, and ALSO, amazingly! lovely, Warren Ellis would have had a chance.

So when it came time to pack for my trip back, I would have kept this book for you, my dear Madthoughts… But I had a lot of chocolate to bring back. And new purses. And my suitcase was getting heavier and heavier…

3 of 5 stars, for being readable enough for me to finish it.

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