9780061252051

Crooked Little Vein

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780061252051

  • ISBN10:

    0061252050

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-12-10
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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Summary

Full of mind-bending style and packed with a wild cast of characters, "Crooked Little Vein" infuses Robert B. Parker with Kurt Vonnegut and the madness of the graphic-novel world. A surprisingly surreal treat, it will appeal to hardcore comic fans, mystery aficionados, and all readers looking for a riotous summer reading adventure.

Excerpts

Crooked Little Vein
A Novel

Chapter One

I opened my eyes to see the rat taking a piss in my coffee mug. It was a huge brown bastard; had a body like a turd with legs and beady black eyes full of secret rat knowledge. Making a smug huffing sound, it threw itself from the table to the floor, and scuttled back into the hole in the wall where it had spent the last three months planning new ways to screw me around. I'd tried nailing wood over the gap in the wainscot, but it gnawed through it and spat the wet pieces into my shoes. After that, I spiked bait with warfarin, but the poison seemed to somehow cause it to evolve and become a super-rat. I nailed it across the eyes once with a lucky shot with the butt of my gun, but it got up again and shat in my telephone.

I dragged myself all the way awake, lurching forward in my office chair. The stink of rat urine steaming and festering in my mug stabbed me into unwelcome wakefulness, but I'd rather have had coffee. I unstuck my backside from the sweaty leatherette of the chair, fought my way upright, and padded stiff-legged to the bathroom adjacent to my office. I knew that one of these days someone was going to burst into the office unannounced to find a naked private investigator taking a piss with the bathroom door open. There was a time where I cared about that sort of thing. Some time before I started living in my own office, I think.

My suit and shirt were piled on the plastic chair I use for clients. I stole it from a twenty-four-hour diner off Union Square, back in my professional drinking days. I picked up the shirt and sniffed it experimentally. It seemed to me that it'd last another day before it had to be washed, although there was a nagging thought at the back of my mind that maybe it actually reeked and my sense of smell was shot. I held up the sleeve and examined the armpit. Slightly yellowish. But then, so was everything else in the office. No one would see it with the jacket on, anyway.

I rifled the jacket for cigarettes, harvested one, and went back to my chair. I swabbed some of the nicotine scum off the window behind the chair with the edge of my hand and peered down at my little piece of Manhattan street.

Gentrification had stopped dead several doors west of my spot overlooking Avenue B. You could actually see the line. That side of the line; Biafran cuisine, sparkling plastic secure window units, women called Imogen and Saffron, men called Josh and Morgan. My side of the line; crack whores, burned-out cars, bullets stuck in door frames, and men called Father-Eating Bastard. It's almost a point of honor to live near a crackhouse, like living in a pre-Rudy Zone, a piece of Old New York.

Across the street from me is the old building that the police sent tanks into, about five years back, to dislodge a community of squatters. The media never covered the guys in the crackhouse down the street a little way, hanging out of their windows, scabs dropping off their faces onto the heads of the rubberneckers down below, cheering the police on for getting those cheapass squatter motherfuckers off their block. You think the tanks ever came for the crackhouse? Did they hell.

I was new there, back then. All tingly with the notion of being a private detective in the big city. I was twenty-five, still all full of having been the child prodigy at the local desk of the main Pinkerton office in Chicago since I was twenty. But I was going to fly solo, do something less corporate and more real, make a difference in lives.

It started going wrong on the second day, when the signpainter inscribing my name on the office door made a mistake and took off before I noticed. To the world at large I am now Michael Mgil Private Invest Gator. . It's always the first line of a consultation. "No, it's McGill."

Some asshole scraped the I out of investigator with their keys six months ago. I simply can't be bothered to fix that one. For all the work I get, I may as well be an invest gator. Every two days, I actually go down to the pay phone on the corner to call my own phone and leave a message on the answering machine to make sure it's all still working.

I don't have a secretary. Sometimes I flip on a phone voice-changer I got for five bucks on eBay and pretend to be my own secretary. It is very sad.

I blew stale-tasting cigarette smoke at the windowglass, looked down at people moving around the street, and debated what to do. I was fairly sure it was Saturday, so I didn't need to be there pretending I had a career. On the downside, I didn't have anywhere else to go. I could have coaxed my old laptop into life and gone on the Web to read about someone else's life, but I feared my email.

Maybe, I thought, it was time to leave the office, go out into the sunlight, and give the hell up.

Kids were playing in the street, which isn't something I ever saw often from my window. I considered, and watched, reaching for my coffee mug by reflex as I idly chased trains of thought around my head.

It occurs to me now that if I hadn't seen the man in black on the far side of the street at that exact second, I would probably still be brushing my teeth with bleach.

But I did. The absolute stereotypical man in black, with the shades and the earpiece and the stone face.

And another, down the street.

I leaned over. A third was outside the door to my building.

Crooked Little Vein
A Novel
. Copyright © by Warren Ellis. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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