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Crooked Little Vein

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  9,172 ratings  ·  1,152 reviews
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 Fo ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 24th 2007 by William Morrow (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  9,172 ratings  ·  1,152 reviews

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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
Jun 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Updated review after a re-read in November 2018


This book is not for the faint-hearted or the easily shocked. I am pretty unflappable, and yet this book had me going “WTF did I just read?!”. When I turned the last page of “Crooked Little Vein”, I was laughing and grossed out simultaneously. There were now images in my mind I would never be able to un-see and I was having very mixed feelings about that. Ellis is transgressive and irreverent, and that is an awesome thing, but he gives me wicked b
Manuel Antão
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013

Is this book for you? If you're not familiar with the words "Godzilla Bukkake", probably not.

Not for the faint of heart...Men who have sex with drugged ostriches are far from the strangest situation that we can find in this book lol

Dark humour abounds. The novel uses all the artifacts of classical pulp era and Ellis' ability to attract the weirdest elements of contemporary society and weave it all together into a coherent whole is nothing short of magnificent.

From Godzilla Bukkake, to genital sa
Bryant Durrell
Aug 28, 2007 rated it did not like it
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?
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Dan Schwent
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-weird
Down and out detective Michael McGill gets hired by a shady government type to find the Constituition. The real Constitution. McGill's case takes him deeper and deeper into a bizarre subculture of sex and drugs. Can he find the Constitution 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 surprised
Richard Derus
Jan 31, 2012 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
Jul 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Twerking To Beethoven
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fubar-reads
Not for the faint of heart. Godzilla sex, porn and an ancient book.
Jason Pettus
Jan 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
(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
May 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing

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.

Kaylyssa Quinn

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
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Kevin Farrell
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: subterranean-own
This copy is 201 of 500
Jul 17, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Jan 13, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 29, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Neil Campbell
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I wanted to put this down from the start. "Stop reading, you don't need to hear this absurd filth" I told myself, but luckily I ignored the angel on the right for the devil on the left. The plot was intriguing even if some of the subject matter was crude and borderline offensive. But by the end, I realized this read like a graphic novel. Like my favorite series ever, Transmetropolitan, Crooked Little Vein was a graphic novel in text format, blurring the lines of reality with what makes visually ...more
Jan 27, 2014 added it
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
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Ανδρέας Μιχαηλίδης
I would say that this is a book meant to "offend" everyone and that is why everyone should read it. Are you a conservative, are you a freak, a millennial, or politically correct? This book WILL take shot at the things you believe in and rightly so, because what it does, on the whole and in the end, is call out every aspect of modern bullshit culture.

There were many times where I found myself hating characters and the thought behind them, and then Warren Ellis would do another twist, nothing majo
"What i am is unlucky," I snarled. "You know i got an adultery case last year? You know what the husband turned out to be doing at night? He had formed a sex cult that broke into an ostrich farm at midnight three times a week. You know what it's like, finding eight middle-aged guys having tantric sex with ostriches?"

The chief of staff made sympathetic noise he'd probably learned off a talk show. "I'm not sure i can even imagine how to do that."

"I had that image in my head two months. I
Steampunk Pagan
Jun 07, 2012 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
Jon Nakapalau
Aug 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, fiction
There is a secret Constitution that the Founding Fathers wrote...and down and out private dick Michael McGill has to find it. Black comedy about what McGill finds while looking for it.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-in-2018
3.5 stars. More gruesome depravity from Warren Ellis. That man's mind is a brilliant sentient sewer rat and I love him. This is my least enjoyed work from him however. ...more
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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, as well as the digital short-story single DEAD PIG COLLECTOR. His newest book is the novella NORMAL, from FSG Originals, listed as one of Amazon’s Best 100 Books Of 2016.


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