25. Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis. 280 p. Published July 2007.
In a sense, this is the debut novel for Warren Ellis. That sense being that he’s published dozens of graphic novels and short stories before Crooked Little Vein, but this is his first novelized publication.
We all know how important the first line in a story is for setting the mood. It’s often called ‘the hook.’ Well, here’s the first line of Crooked Little Vein:
“I opened my eyes to see the rat taking a piss in my coffee mug.”
That pretty much sets the tone for Michael McGill’s life, because he is the unluckiest man in the world. He’s been refered to as a “shit magnet,” which, oddly enough, comes in handy for his job as a private detective. (Want an example? The year before, his investigation of a cheating husband led him to a sex-cult in the act of their odd fetish; tantric sex with ostriches.) But frankly, Michael’s life is starting to wear on him and when unparralleled opportunity comes knocking, he’s off on an adventure. Not that he has much choice though, since his client is the Chief of Staff for the President of the U.S.
The Chief, himself a depraved individual of the highest caliber, wants Michael to find the secret constitution of the United States, authored by the founding fathers to guide the President and his cabinet, and lost since Nixon traded it for some asian tail. Since the tome was lost, America has been in a steady moral decline, something the current President feels must be stopped.
So McGill, armed with 1/2 a million dollars, a top-secret government handheld computer, and his own brand of ill fortune finds himself traveling across the country. Along the way he finds Trix, a perpetual traveler with a stark facial tatoo and a penchant for the occult and spectacular. Together, the two follow the trail of the Constitution, finding each past owner more perverted and inhuman than the last. And more powerful. Stuck in a juggernaught of depravity, Michael must remain on his toes if he wants to get out of this one in one piece.
Ellis pulls all his research together to form this novel. Filled with a combination of real-world horror, fantastic circumstance, and Ellis’s own brand of dark humor, Crooked Little Vein is the single most (purposefully) disturbing novel you will ever read. It’s definetely not for the young or faint of heart. The plot is rapid and the characters rabid. Warren Ellis is probably the only author who can expose his readers to such prose and not be excommunicated by the vatican.
Rating: 5 out of 5