2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Funny, dark, but a little limited,
This review is from: Crooked Little Vein: A Novel (P.S.) (Paperback)
Warren Ellis is known for his graphic novels, which whilst still literature are a completely different animal, so it was with some interest that I read Crooked Little Vein. And found it to be unfortunately a limited success.
It is without doubt very funny. Very funny and very grim. This is the darkest of dark humour. Any book that starts with 'I opened my eyes to see the rat taking a p*ss in my coffee mug.' is not making any attempt to hide what it is. At times it is laugh out loud funny, but always a guilty laugh.
'Crooked Little Vein' centres around the archetypal burned out Private Eye, hard drinking, hard smoking, womanising, blah, blah, seen it before. This Private Eye is Michael McGill and he is at the end of his rope when The White House Chief of Staff, who turns out to be a heroin addicted maniac, bursts into his office and sends him on a mission to find an alternative Book of Constitutions. This book hides the real aims of the original government and is made of such materials that it emits a noise that is too low for a human being to hear, but also renders the listener to totally believe what is being read.
He is given a palm computer full of leads and a generous expense account and sent out to find the book.
Inexplicably the book has fallen into the hands of sexual deviants and McGill finds himself working through the American sexual underground on its trail.
There is no doubt a gleeful air to this book, Ellis enjoyed writing it and it is fun to read. There are enough bizarre and disgusting characters in enough bizarre and disgusting situations to make this thoroughly entertaining. McGill is your standard Private Eye, his assistant Trix is your standard femme fatale, albeit with a facial tattoo and the baddies are suitably bad. Some of the set pieces are hilarious and Ellis certainly has a very warped mind, Godzilla Bukkake?
There just isn't enough of a plot to sustain itself for a whole novel in my opinion. It consists mainly of one set of deviants being deviant in front of the main characters and then pointing them in the direction of the next bunch of deviants who are then deviant in front of the main characters and so on, until a massive coincidence wraps the whole thing up.
Ellis has got so many tropes of the genre down to a tee that it seems a shame that he has missed the most vital one, a gripping and twisting plot.
And I'm left with a horrible nagging doubt that this would have worked better as a graphic novel, it would have looked fantastic.
That said, it's good fun to read and is worth a few hours of any one's time, as long as they have a fairly strong stomach.