cover image Crooked Little Vein

Crooked Little Vein

Warren Ellis, . . Morrow, $21.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-0-06-072393-4

At the start of this dark, demented fiction debut from Ellis, the creator of DC Comics' Transmetropolitan and The Authority , the U.S. president's heroin-addicted chief of staff hires 25-year-old Lower East Side PI Mike McGill to find the “other” Constitution. This is “a secret document privately authored by several of the Founders” detailing “the real intent of their design for American society,” which a debauched vice-president Nixon “lost” in the '50s. With “half a mill” in black ops money, Mike hires cute tattooed Trix Holmes to be his guide to America's deviant underworld, whence the 50-year-old cold trail begins. In their search for the missing document, “reputedly bound in the skin of the extraterrestrial entity that plagued Benjamin Franklin's ass over six nights in Paris,” the pair make some wild pit stops in Columbus, Ohio; San Antonio, Tex.; Vegas; and, finally, L.A. The home of the free and the land of the brave has rarely looked so creepy in this snappily paced homage to William Burroughs's Naked Lunch . (Aug.)