‘Crooked Little Vein’ is a first time novel from the long time comic writer, Warren Ellis. This breezy story is about a private investigator, Michael McGill, hired by the United States government to retrieve a secret constitution written on alien skin by Ben Franklin. Michael’s sole claim to fame as an investigator is that he is a shit magnet. Without even trying he runs into the weirdest, most depraved, crazy shit out there. Quite frankly, that’s all you really want in a narrator, isn’t it?
The book is a wild journey through the strange perversions of the Internet which is both it’s greatest strength and it’s weakness. I was genuinely shocked by how unshocked I was at this cavalcade of fucked up people. Maybe the Internet has turned me into one of the jaded weirdos who resides in this book, but everytime the narrator talks about how out there and bizarre a particular incident is, I couldn’t help thinking that I had seen worse. Don’t get me wrong, I could have gone my whole life without the concept of Godzilla bukkake but such an idea has the feel of something I might have skipped on Fleshbot.
The romantic interest is a better example of what I mean. She’s a hot young thing with an open mind. The complication? She’s poly. Oh noes! Poor Michael has to deal with the fact that the girl he likes bangs other men! Now I know in the mainstream this is a very real solid problem, but to sex blogger me, this feels like a complication on the magnitude of dating someone who’s a vegetarian. Get over it already.
I did enjoy the book for it’s sheer fun value. Michael McGill is a shit magnet of the highest caliber which means every single character he meets has some bizarre quality worth getting to know. There is no dead weight in this novel making it a very fast and fun read. There is also a very human empathy that runs through the whole book that sparks a bit of sympathy for even the worse villains. While reading a catalog of perversions, it’s nice to be reminded that they are all just people.