Warren Ellis’ first major foray into prose fiction is a pretty enjoyable if superfluous read that feels like he found a way to stuff all the various ‘research’ into the plain crazy or weird he posted on his various blogs and websites over the years into one overarching, coherent narrative. His protagonist McGill, a detective who for reasons unfathomable to him, always gets the crazy cases since he left the police force and struck out on his own, gets his first big case. Not the big break he thought it would be, though.
Tracking down a secret Constitution of the United States sends him on a tour through the US, with a young, female aide he picked up on the streets, always getting himself into situations where he rather wouldn’t want to be. The whole book gives the impression of trying to show how fucked and freaky the US can be, but maybe I’m too jaded, most of the stuff in there merely made me smirk. Still, it works well enough, even if it’s somewhat formulaic: you know each and every time McGill closes in on the McGuffin he will just be sent further again.
Most of all, despite being sort of written in the hardboiled tradition of detective fiction, it’s actually a lot of fun to read and seeing McGill fumble on and on makes it even more funnier, even or because of how likable a guy he is. Surprising actually that Ellis ended it on such a well-meaning note, I was expecting something mean and nasty, but somehow I can’t fault him there, seeing McGill catching a break at the end was kind of nice.