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Meet Lucifer Box: Lucifer has a charming countenance and rapier wit that make him the guest all hostesses must have. And most do. But few of his conquests know that Lucifer is also His Majesty's most daring secret agent, at home in both London's Imperial grandeur and in its underworld of despicable vice. So when Britain's most prominent scientists begin turning up dead, th Meet Lucifer Box: Lucifer has a charming countenance and rapier wit that make him the guest all hostesses must have. And most do. But few of his conquests know that Lucifer is also His Majesty's most daring secret agent, at home in both London's Imperial grandeur and in its underworld of despicable vice. So when Britain's most prominent scientists begin turning up dead, there is only one man his country can turn to for help. Following a dinnertime assassination, Lucifer is dispatched to uncover the whereabouts of missing agent Jocelyn Poop. Along the way he will give art lessons, be attacked by a poisonous centipede, bed a few choice specimens, and travel to Italy on business and pleasure. Aided by his henchwoman Delilah; the beautiful, mysterious, and Dutch Miss Bella Pok; his boss, a dwarf who takes meetings in a lavatory; grizzled vulcanologist Emmanuel Quibble; and the impertinent, delicious, right-hand-boy Charlie Jackpot, Lucifer Box deduces and seduces his way from his elegant townhouse at Number 9 Downing Street (somebody has to live there) to the ruined city of Pompeii, to infiltrate a highly dangerous secret society that may hold the fate of the world in its clawlike grip.


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Meet Lucifer Box: Lucifer has a charming countenance and rapier wit that make him the guest all hostesses must have. And most do. But few of his conquests know that Lucifer is also His Majesty's most daring secret agent, at home in both London's Imperial grandeur and in its underworld of despicable vice. So when Britain's most prominent scientists begin turning up dead, th Meet Lucifer Box: Lucifer has a charming countenance and rapier wit that make him the guest all hostesses must have. And most do. But few of his conquests know that Lucifer is also His Majesty's most daring secret agent, at home in both London's Imperial grandeur and in its underworld of despicable vice. So when Britain's most prominent scientists begin turning up dead, there is only one man his country can turn to for help. Following a dinnertime assassination, Lucifer is dispatched to uncover the whereabouts of missing agent Jocelyn Poop. Along the way he will give art lessons, be attacked by a poisonous centipede, bed a few choice specimens, and travel to Italy on business and pleasure. Aided by his henchwoman Delilah; the beautiful, mysterious, and Dutch Miss Bella Pok; his boss, a dwarf who takes meetings in a lavatory; grizzled vulcanologist Emmanuel Quibble; and the impertinent, delicious, right-hand-boy Charlie Jackpot, Lucifer Box deduces and seduces his way from his elegant townhouse at Number 9 Downing Street (somebody has to live there) to the ruined city of Pompeii, to infiltrate a highly dangerous secret society that may hold the fate of the world in its clawlike grip.

30 review for The Vesuvius Club

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sean Gibson

    Alternate title: Sherlock Powers: Sexual Omnivore Those familiar with the always delightful Gatiss from his extraordinarily wonderful work as co-creator/producer of the BBC’s Sherlock will undoubtedly be enticed by the prospect of his frolicking with a turn-of-the-twentieth-century detective who’s part Holmes, part Bond, and all cheek (in more ways than one). What begins as a sharp take on the pretty well-trod grounds of Holmesian pastiche (replete with modern sensibilities and repartee) devolves Alternate title: Sherlock Powers: Sexual Omnivore Those familiar with the always delightful Gatiss from his extraordinarily wonderful work as co-creator/producer of the BBC’s Sherlock will undoubtedly be enticed by the prospect of his frolicking with a turn-of-the-twentieth-century detective who’s part Holmes, part Bond, and all cheek (in more ways than one). What begins as a sharp take on the pretty well-trod grounds of Holmesian pastiche (replete with modern sensibilities and repartee) devolves, over the course of the narrative, into outright Bondian parody, with a gleefully maniacal villain grandiosely revealing his (or her, perhaps—there’s some gender fluidity at play here) master plans to our hero shortly before activating his (or her) absurd doomsday device (which, in this instance happens to be the titular volcano)—and yes, I made it an express point to work the word “titular” into a review of a book that takes great delight in saucy double entendres. For that reason, I’m tempted to conclude with something like “come for the wordplay, even if the plot won’t blow you (away),” but that would just be crass. This is an unquestionably entertaining lark, but how entertaining it is for you depends on your parodic threshold—if you consider Austin Powers and Spaceballs masterclasses in subtlety, this is the book for you. If your taste in parody runs more toward Spinal Tap or Starship Troopers, this might be a little too over the top for you. I’m somewhere in the middle (let’s call that Roadrunner and Coyote level), so I’ll go 3.5 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    mark monday

    I guess I enjoyed this well enough. a swiftly paced romp through Edwardian England and Naples ("Edwardian Naples" just doesn't sound right) featuring Her Majesty's Special Assassin - the snobby and callous Lucifer Box. many things are afoot and those things include murder, a sex club, a rather insensitively handled trans character, some painting, some servant troubles, and a nefarious plot to destroy all of Italy. plus (view spoiler)[a lead who turns out to be bisexual; which - as a bi fellow my I guess I enjoyed this well enough. a swiftly paced romp through Edwardian England and Naples ("Edwardian Naples" just doesn't sound right) featuring Her Majesty's Special Assassin - the snobby and callous Lucifer Box. many things are afoot and those things include murder, a sex club, a rather insensitively handled trans character, some painting, some servant troubles, and a nefarious plot to destroy all of Italy. plus (view spoiler)[a lead who turns out to be bisexual; which - as a bi fellow myself - was (hide spoiler)] a special treat. Gatiss is famous for various things, and somewhere along the way he wrote this bit of fluff. I hope he enjoyed his lark! he clearly has talent and his writing is light, bubbly, tart, and easy going down. but I'm sad to say that there was perhaps one too many puns or one too many kooky names, which led to one too many disgruntled expressions on my face, , which led to *shrug* 2 stars. but you will probably like this more than me because you are probably not (view spoiler)[an (hide spoiler)] like me. it's a fun book. ish.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Siria

    The author himself states that The Vesuvius Club is nothing more than a bit of fluff, and in many ways he's right. The characterisation could never be referred to as three-dimensional, the events are cartoonish, and the pacing is off-kilter. That said, I still enjoyed this immensely. It's as if you were to take Oscar Wilde, Ian Fleming, the better elements of the Austin Power movies, and The League of Gentlemen, combine them all together in an Edwardian London setting, with a plot so absurd you The author himself states that The Vesuvius Club is nothing more than a bit of fluff, and in many ways he's right. The characterisation could never be referred to as three-dimensional, the events are cartoonish, and the pacing is off-kilter. That said, I still enjoyed this immensely. It's as if you were to take Oscar Wilde, Ian Fleming, the better elements of the Austin Power movies, and The League of Gentlemen, combine them all together in an Edwardian London setting, with a plot so absurd you could almost (almost) believe it possible, and then parody the hell out of all of it. It's a risky undertaking, but I think Gatiss just about pulls it off. The character names are weird and wonderful (Lucifer Box, Miss Bella Pok, Lady Constance Tutt-Hattenschaft); the main character is hilariously self-centred, obnoxious, arrogant and dandyish; some of the one-liners are screamingly funny, and many of them provoke a smile. Possibly you have to have read widely in a lot of the genres that Gatiss takes off in order to appreciate this fully; but really, how often does one get to read of the dashing secret agent rescuing his constantly-in-peril boyfriend in any genre? Not enough, I think; and that, together with Gatiss' knack for introducing sudden streaks of creative genius into his work help to lift the book. It might, I think, have made a better graphic novel or movie than a novel proper (though I'm sure, given time, that it will). It certainly succeeded in entertaining me for the duration of my train trip, however, and I would definitely read more of Gatiss' stuff (then again, given that he's written one of my favourite episodes of Doctor Who, and that he's partially responsible for The League of Gentlemen, it's not like I would avoid his stuff in any case) I don't think I would pay full price for The Vesuvius Club; but if, like me, you come across it in a second-hand bookshop, and you're looking for a way to spend an idle hour or two, I really would recommend it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    Why have I not read this before? I've no idea, but consider me duly admonished. Because it's magnificent. I took two days off the rest of the world, stocked up on Jaffa cakes, and didn't put the thing down. The plot and the execution are gorgeous, a little bit ostentatious and entirely frivolous, so I think I might save the second one for an end of term train ride home - it strikes me as exactly the sort of thing I might need at the end of a term reading law textbooks. The characters are a bit tw Why have I not read this before? I've no idea, but consider me duly admonished. Because it's magnificent. I took two days off the rest of the world, stocked up on Jaffa cakes, and didn't put the thing down. The plot and the execution are gorgeous, a little bit ostentatious and entirely frivolous, so I think I might save the second one for an end of term train ride home - it strikes me as exactly the sort of thing I might need at the end of a term reading law textbooks. The characters are a bit two-dimensional, generally speaking, but quite frankly they don't need to be anything more than that and both dimensions are conducted with aplomb. Needless to say, Charlie's my favourite. It's a bit over-complicated at times, but this really isn't the sort of book that should be over-analysed, because it's a very good ride and after all, that's what it's trying to be. And, of course, what made me like it so damn much was the turn of phrase: beautiful, but not over-used, as it's so easy to do. You could keep reading without getting sick of it. Which I did.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    "I made my way softly down the steps to the door. It bore no knocker, nor number of any kind. I had raised my hand when it groaned open, seemingly of its own accord. Shudder not, reader, this is not a spook story! Whatever agency lay behind that door was most assuredly human. Actually I must immediately qualify that remark, as what lay behind the door appeared to be a monkey." Lucifer Box, "the feted artist, the dashing dandy ... but by night -- philanderer, sodomite, and assassin!" is quite simpl "I made my way softly down the steps to the door. It bore no knocker, nor number of any kind. I had raised my hand when it groaned open, seemingly of its own accord. Shudder not, reader, this is not a spook story! Whatever agency lay behind that door was most assuredly human. Actually I must immediately qualify that remark, as what lay behind the door appeared to be a monkey." Lucifer Box, "the feted artist, the dashing dandy ... but by night -- philanderer, sodomite, and assassin!" is quite simply one of the most charming detectives I've come across. His portrayal is a little uneven, as at times he seems a spy firmly in the mold of a James Bond or Sherlock Holmes, while at other times, he seems a mite more like Inspector Clouseau or Inspector Gadget. I think that mishmash quality, however, is what I most enjoyed about this book, the bastard child of Wodehouse, Fleming, and Wilde, amongst others. It's a quick and fun little read (also available as a graphic novel, apparently). Although this is a very funny book, the humor is pleasantly understated, as when Mr. Box reveals that he lives at 9 Downing Street ("Somebody has to live there."). The action scenes are as one might expect, with fistfights and chases aplenty, and the grand finale takes place in the evil mastermind's secret lair, located ... well ... why ruin the surprise? And as with any good spy novel, there are a couple sex scenes, handled in a rather unique fashion by the author.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    To be honest, I can't believe this came from Mr Gatiss. I notice that I highlighted several witty comments through the book but on the whole, it grated. The main character has nothing in him which I can admire and demonstrates nothing but narcissistic qualities throughout. Can't see I'll be picking up any more in the series...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)

    I first read The Vesuvius Club seven years ago and it is still my favourite steampunk novel. Our hero, Lucifer Box, is wonderfully decadent and louche, his adventures as bizarre as the improbable names of his supporting cast. Allegedly set in early twentieth century London and Naples, I know other readers have criticised the writing for historical inaccuracies, but I think they've missed the point. The Vesuvius Club isn't a extensively researched historical novel, it's a fun, dark, fantasy sci-f I first read The Vesuvius Club seven years ago and it is still my favourite steampunk novel. Our hero, Lucifer Box, is wonderfully decadent and louche, his adventures as bizarre as the improbable names of his supporting cast. Allegedly set in early twentieth century London and Naples, I know other readers have criticised the writing for historical inaccuracies, but I think they've missed the point. The Vesuvius Club isn't a extensively researched historical novel, it's a fun, dark, fantasy sci-fi spy thriller or, as Mr Gatiss claims, A Bit Of Fluff. If you're into lightly depraved escapism, this is the book for you!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Evelina | AvalinahsBooks

    DNF @ 10% Not hooking me at all. The main character seems distasteful. But since that seems to be the idea of the book, I think it's safe to say there's nothing wrong with it and it's just not for me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I had pretty high hopes for this book because the synopsis makes it sound like everything you could ever ask for in a novel...espionage, intrigue, secret societies bent on world domination, a roguish anti-hero. Unfortunately, I couldn't even make it all the way through. It just got too ridiculous, and the plot was so simplistic it was like watching a cartoon. Another peeve of mine is that it was written in the first person with the main character Lucifer narrating, and he got on my nerves SO MUC I had pretty high hopes for this book because the synopsis makes it sound like everything you could ever ask for in a novel...espionage, intrigue, secret societies bent on world domination, a roguish anti-hero. Unfortunately, I couldn't even make it all the way through. It just got too ridiculous, and the plot was so simplistic it was like watching a cartoon. Another peeve of mine is that it was written in the first person with the main character Lucifer narrating, and he got on my nerves SO MUCH. He's thoroughly obnoxious, and was constantly making these little asides to the reader about how naughty and/or fabulous he feels himself to be. Plus, you can tell the author is trying SO hard to be witty and funny and he goes so over-the-top that it's like nails on a chalkboard.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Oriana

    totally random bookswap score. I really love cracking a book that I know absolutely nothing about! *** So fun! So British! So snarky! I guess this is kind of like James Bondish? It's about one of those dapper young playboys who leads a decadent artist's life by day and like works for the CIA by night. It's all old-timey and very, very British. Kind of like Johannes Cabal the Necromancer , except less noir and more caper. It's fluffy and fun, nothing too substantial. I should have saved it for t totally random bookswap score. I really love cracking a book that I know absolutely nothing about! *** So fun! So British! So snarky! I guess this is kind of like James Bondish? It's about one of those dapper young playboys who leads a decadent artist's life by day and like works for the CIA by night. It's all old-timey and very, very British. Kind of like Johannes Cabal the Necromancer , except less noir and more caper. It's fluffy and fun, nothing too substantial. I should have saved it for the nine-hour plane ride I've got to Alaska next weekend. Oh also? I just found out that there's a graphic novel edition, which I'd love to get my hands on.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed this first part of the Lucifer Box trilogy. Some parts had me literally laughing out loud. The humour is delightful, the characters and places unforgettable. The descriptions are so vivid (and not exhaustive or prescriptive) your senses are invoked to be there as a bystander. A good old romp, with a bit of suspense and a lot of wit :-)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    This has something of a sherlockian essence about it, which, coming from the man who has written for BBC’s Sherlock and countless other amazing works, can only be a good thing! I loved getting to know the main character of Lucifer Box and the story started straight away into the depths of a mystery. It certainly wasn’t slow to start and was well paced, admittedly I got through the book fairly quickly as I was so eager to find out what happened and how all the little odds and ends would piece tog This has something of a sherlockian essence about it, which, coming from the man who has written for BBC’s Sherlock and countless other amazing works, can only be a good thing! I loved getting to know the main character of Lucifer Box and the story started straight away into the depths of a mystery. It certainly wasn’t slow to start and was well paced, admittedly I got through the book fairly quickly as I was so eager to find out what happened and how all the little odds and ends would piece together to form the ending. I had no clue how he was going to solve the mystery! Plenty of twists and turns and many things I hadn’t expected, I’m excited to read the next one to see what other mysteries meet Lucifer Box!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maya Panika

    This is a very funny book. Laugh out loud Funny as a matter of fact, and I did, on average, about thirteen times an hour. There’s a distinct, 60’s feel to it all; something to do with the cleverly-copied Aubrey Beardsley, Yellow Book look of the thing and the outrageousness of the rather-hard-to-follow plot. If this book were a film it would look like The Wrong Box or Casino Royale (the Peter Sellers movie, not the latest, hard-core version, obviously) and Peter Cook would be playing Lucifer Box. This is a very funny book. Laugh out loud Funny as a matter of fact, and I did, on average, about thirteen times an hour. There’s a distinct, 60’s feel to it all; something to do with the cleverly-copied Aubrey Beardsley, Yellow Book look of the thing and the outrageousness of the rather-hard-to-follow plot. If this book were a film it would look like The Wrong Box or Casino Royale (the Peter Sellers movie, not the latest, hard-core version, obviously) and Peter Cook would be playing Lucifer Box. The comedy is definitely the high-point of the novel, unfortunately, it’s also what made it such a frequently annoying read. Whilst the deliciously clever, Wilde-ishly witty, hilarious asides are highly entertaining, they don’t half detract from the story - but since the story isn’t up to much anyway (the mind does tend to wander, I found, during all those elaborately Bond-esque cracks on Box’s life), I detached my brain from all attempts at a plot and went for enjoying the funnies and the gay-sex instead. (NB. The gay-sex in particular, whilst not in any way explicit, is deliciously titillating and thoroughly Good.) Charlie Jackpot (I almost forgot to mention, every character has a ludicrous name and there are an awful lot of characters. This also makes things a little hard to follow, but you get used to it after a while and, since I was already ignoring the plot by the time it would have started to get annoying, I failed to find it as irritating as I no doubt would have, had I still been trying to follow the story – if you get my drift. (Where was I? Oh yes, Charlie Jackpot...) is a delightful companion and it’s overwhelmingly because of him that I’ll be picking up the next book in this series. So, well worth a read, for sure, just don’t worry too much about what’s going on because that way lies madness.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    Mark Gatiss, creator of the wonderful BBC update of the Holmes stories, Sherlock, is also the creator of the Holmes/Bond pastiche that is Lucifer Box. The premise is delightful - Edwardian gentleman, portraitist, dandy, wit, rake and His Majesty's most dashing secret agent is a series of humourous crime solving adventures - and yet the resulting first novel leaves me flat. I do not recall laughing once, I barely raised a glimmer of a smile infact. There may once have been a time when this would ha Mark Gatiss, creator of the wonderful BBC update of the Holmes stories, Sherlock, is also the creator of the Holmes/Bond pastiche that is Lucifer Box. The premise is delightful - Edwardian gentleman, portraitist, dandy, wit, rake and His Majesty's most dashing secret agent is a series of humourous crime solving adventures - and yet the resulting first novel leaves me flat. I do not recall laughing once, I barely raised a glimmer of a smile infact. There may once have been a time when this would have been on my constant repeat reading shelf but I can't seem to raise any enthusiasm for it in or as I have recently noted anything even remotely resembling it. Note to self, stop thinking that humourous mystery fiction will be humourous and read something dark instead.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Book Review: Mark Gatiss - The Vesuvius Club (Simon & Schuster, London, 2005) If you live in the UK then the chances are that you're familiar with, or have at least heard of, the work of Mark Gatiss. He is an accomplished writer and actor for the stage and television and a look at his IMDB page will porbably make you say 'oh yeah, I remember that!' In the last couple of years he has written for and appeared in the new incarnation of Doctor Who, as well as last years romcom Starter for Ten. He is Book Review: Mark Gatiss - The Vesuvius Club (Simon & Schuster, London, 2005) If you live in the UK then the chances are that you're familiar with, or have at least heard of, the work of Mark Gatiss. He is an accomplished writer and actor for the stage and television and a look at his IMDB page will porbably make you say 'oh yeah, I remember that!' In the last couple of years he has written for and appeared in the new incarnation of Doctor Who, as well as last years romcom Starter for Ten. He is undoubtedly most famous for his work as part of The League of Gentlemen, (not to be confused with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, US types!) Which spawned three television series, multiple stage shows and a film. The influence of The League of Gentlemen on Gatiss' first novel is evident. The humour often contains a strangely geotesque aspect, and the plot twists contain some aspects of the implausible. The cover is littered with comparisons to Oscar Wilde, and I agree that when the humour does not remind the reader of Gatiss' previous work we are given Wilde's wit - and the protagonist himself is more than a little Wildean. Let's talk about him shall we? Lucifer Box is an artist, a dandy, a government agent and bisexual during the very early years of the twentieth century. It's a nice set up, a textured world and a persona that Gatiss seems comfortable writing in - the novel is first person, and under the guise that Box is attempting to write his memoirs. Initially we are told that he is an artist and a dandy. The government agent reveal comes early in the novel, as it must, for the plot to progress. What interests me is the representation of Box's sexuality in the novel. It is over halfway through when we discover that he is bisexual, and the character says 'there I've shocked you', and goes on to dream of a time in the future where people are not persecuted for their sexuality. It feels ... stilted, and unneccessary. There is no more mention of the persecution of the homosexual after this brief daydream, only a fun little love story between Box and his assistant, Charlie Jackpot, that should speak for itself. I should mention that the novel is a murder mystery, something that I'm not a great fan of. Not knowing much about murder mysteries I can't say how well it worked and be very informed about it, but for me personally, it was a drag. I could have done without the mystery, and just had the double life and love story thing going on, but I think that's because it's what I prefer. Overall, I feel that the novel is a fair effort, and good for something light to read. Better if you're a fan of murder mysteries. I couldn't help but feel though, that Gatiss' talents are definitely better suited to the television screen, and that perhaps Lucifer Box would fare better there. He would certainly make a change from the Daziel and Pascoes, Midsummer Murders, Touch of Frosts, and Prime Suspects we're used to in that genre today. (This was a short review because I was underwhelmed by the novel, but I think if you're into that sort of thing, you'd really like it. Also there is a graphic novel version available, which seems to be selling better.)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cat.

    Clever. Almost...no, definitely, too clever by far. There are some amusing bits here, however, and I did finish the book simply because I wanted to figure out if it really all comes together at the end. It does. We meet Lucifer Box (prepare for Puns Ahead), secret agent to His Majesty's Government (HMG) in Edwardian England. Once the time period is established, it makes much more sense; I kept thinking it was Victorian London, but it's later. Lucifer's cover is painting portraits, and it is doing Clever. Almost...no, definitely, too clever by far. There are some amusing bits here, however, and I did finish the book simply because I wanted to figure out if it really all comes together at the end. It does. We meet Lucifer Box (prepare for Puns Ahead), secret agent to His Majesty's Government (HMG) in Edwardian England. Once the time period is established, it makes much more sense; I kept thinking it was Victorian London, but it's later. Lucifer's cover is painting portraits, and it is doing just that where we first meet him. After painting his subject, he invites him to his Club for lunch and kills him after the first course. His henchmen (or -woman, in this case) removes the body and Lucifer continues to lunch. Soon thereafter he is drawn into a case involving missing scientists and the actually story begins. While reading this is not exactly brain surgery, it is remarkably well-plotted. The funny thing is that, having finished the book and written it off as lightweight silliness, one looks back and realizes that it is better-written than most lightweight silliness. There is a plot, the plot hangs together, the tone of the book doesn't waver inappropriately, and the sardonic asides about everything from the hypocrisy of society to the genre of James Bond-ish stories is spot-on. Here is a short list of character names, besides the hero's: Jocelyn Poop, Bella Pok, the Duce Tiepolo, Tom Bowler, Verdigris Sash, Mrs. Midsomer Knight.... If at least some of these names do not cause you to smile in amusement (if not howl with delight), then you probably are better off not reading this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    LJ

    THE VESUVIUS CLUB (Satirical Mystery-Edwardian England/Italy-early 1900s) – G+ Gatiss, Mark – Standalone Simon & Schuster, 2004- UK Hardcover Lucifer Box is an elegant, bi-sexual rake and a secret service agent who lives at Number Nine Downing Street. When two leading scientists are murdered it’s up to Lucifer to find who and why. His investigation takes him to Naples. With a beautiful woman on his arm and a young lover, Charlie, who introduces him to the debauched delights of the Vesuvius Club, Lu THE VESUVIUS CLUB (Satirical Mystery-Edwardian England/Italy-early 1900s) – G+ Gatiss, Mark – Standalone Simon & Schuster, 2004- UK Hardcover Lucifer Box is an elegant, bi-sexual rake and a secret service agent who lives at Number Nine Downing Street. When two leading scientists are murdered it’s up to Lucifer to find who and why. His investigation takes him to Naples. With a beautiful woman on his arm and a young lover, Charlie, who introduces him to the debauched delights of the Vesuvius Club, Lucifer continually finds his life in peril. *** The subtitle of this book is “A Bit of Fluff,” and it certainly is that. With characters such as Everard Supple, Jocelyn Poop, Christopher Miracle, Bella Pok and others one can’t take this too seriously. It’s light, it’s fun and it’s clever, although not in the realm of Jasper Fforde’s work. For me, one of the best things is the UK hardcover book itself. With end papers of period advertisements and Beardsley-style illuminations, the book is a treasure. As for the content, it’s enjoyable but definitely not for everyone.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lise

    Well, what can I say? It was fantastically funny, completely unbelievable and rather splendid from beginning to end. I devoured it in one sitting, which I rarely allow myself to do, but it was certainly worth it. The characters were witty and well portrayed, I adored Lucifer and Charlie as I thought I would, and the rest of the cast was simply wonderful. I can't not mention the several giggle-fits I had while reading, I never thought I'd find something quite so blatantly steamy in the midst of a Well, what can I say? It was fantastically funny, completely unbelievable and rather splendid from beginning to end. I devoured it in one sitting, which I rarely allow myself to do, but it was certainly worth it. The characters were witty and well portrayed, I adored Lucifer and Charlie as I thought I would, and the rest of the cast was simply wonderful. I can't not mention the several giggle-fits I had while reading, I never thought I'd find something quite so blatantly steamy in the midst of all that. Very nice indeed, as I thought it would be. Gatiss, you perfect human being.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brooklyn Tayla

    Well that pulled me out of my mini slump. Mark Gatiss never disappoints.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    "We only get so many days." "What a mantra", Tony thought. It was vague enough to apply to so many things. Its frame for time appearing, at first, grim for the thought of death. Yet optimism could break through; through brevity, through apathy. If we only get so many days, why not make each one great? Just as easily, if we only get so many days, why bother doing anything at all? And just like that, Tony had one less. From that day forward Tony programmed his robot, HS-11, to record all the things h "We only get so many days." "What a mantra", Tony thought. It was vague enough to apply to so many things. Its frame for time appearing, at first, grim for the thought of death. Yet optimism could break through; through brevity, through apathy. If we only get so many days, why not make each one great? Just as easily, if we only get so many days, why bother doing anything at all? And just like that, Tony had one less. From that day forward Tony programmed his robot, HS-11, to record all the things he accomplished at the end of each day, so as to illicit a sense of accomplishment. At the beginning of each day, HS-11 uploaded a venn diagram to Tony's augmented arm-computer. Each of the two circles contained an adjective, the intersect of which being the deed Tony had planned to accomplish for that day. Surely, he pondered, this will make my days truly worthwhile. Day 1: Awesome X Delicious. beep, BEEP, BEEP "Fuck it. Snooze." Clearly everyone knows that it takes people at least 2 weeks to adjust to any new form of sleep schedule. The Lenticular Blinds system descended on Tony's windows while his apartment's operating system simulated a night mode. "I'll have an awesome breakfast." Done. Day 2: Incredible X Brave This time when the alarm went off Tony sprang from his bed. Looking down at his wrist, he was already reluctant. "I am not brave", he said longingly. "I do however, feel incredible. So one out of two, not bad." While his automated hygiene system blasted plague off his teeth, Tony wondered what he might do that was both incredible and brave. He took his jetpack and met Megan at Doppler's Diner. Tony applied minimalism to his thinking: "Maybe brave can be something more abstract like talking to a cute girl; thats brave isn't it?" Megan did not look pleased. "You know what I meant Megs." Realizing that in fact Megan was a girl and an easy contender for a cute one. Megan sighed. Their breakfast arrived. They ate. They left. "No. No. We are not going to the arcade. Every time we go I lose all my credits to PROTECT ME ROBOT!" Megan sounded both excited and hesitant. "Relax", replied Tony. "I heard some jokesters broke the unit because they tried to root into it and cheat. We are just going to meet up with Perry." Perry, too busy with his summer school was not much help at all. "Why don't you try the Railux Run, I saw that you upgraded your pack with that VS-4 booster." Said Perry humorously popping his head over his already transparent digi-tablet. "Uh that mod was so I can take turns better, its not going to help me beat Railux." retorted Tony. "But Railux is all about the turns! Besides, I heard Miike Snow will be playing a secret show there around 11." Perry's arguments were becoming more infallible by the second. "And you know who looooves Miike Snow..." "Oh please, can we not?" Megan piqued up. They all knew what the Perry's ellipses was for. Tony's former co-worker, former lover, and current Miike Snow fan- Linda Court. Megan interjected the best she could, "You know she's already dating someone else." "Sure, Ian the ProtoBowler", answered Tony. "By the way, since when is ProtoBowling a legitimate career?" "Maybe its when he scored 9,000 on En last Thursday. Or the 8,600 on Ot last month." Megan was quick to point out. "Big deal, En and Ot are novice fields! He didn't even break ten thousand." said Tony. "Its your Disaster, Tony." Like always Megan just went along with Tony's antics. Tony, Megan and Perry boarded the Railux Shuttle with their packs. On the ride over, Tony downloaded the Railux map to his augment and projected it onto the wall. Railux was considered a difficult course for no other reason than its impressive height above ground. At nearly 25 meters high, Railux made for quite the epic backdrop for events. If tonights show was supposed to be a secret, they must have only tried to hide it from the luddites. Giant displays arced across the que zone. Lights and lasers filled the sky with enough intensity to create a false daylight. Generic electronic music blared out from a relic MonoSpeaker, the likes of which had not been heard from since the MonoSpeakerZero was released late last month. Then again, it only made sense to wait until the inevitable MonoSpeakerNegativeOne before upgrading. Miike Snow or Linda Court were nowhere to be found. In their place was a mass of gyrating, well dressed, stylish people clearly more interested in each other than the event at hand. "Quick, Megan get over here; Perry, get lost!" Tony's typical plan was once again set into motion. As far as the general consensus was concerned, Linda's absence promoted Megan to the most attractive girl at the event. Having his arm around her certainly didn't hurt Tony's appeal. In the entire recorded history of Gal Fridays, very few surpassed Megan. Many purveyors of such rarities might recall the night Tony allowed enough ethanol to interfere with his hippocampus to result in an ill-advised skinny dip into a fountain full of similarly clad women. Upon realizing his dramatic unpreparedness towards nudity, demanded the dress right off Megan's back. A drunken boy wrapped in a dress, a girl in much less, and its clear to what relational situation the two were ever in. Later that week, he made her a cake fashioned in her favorite PROTECT ME ROBOT! theme. They called it even. If we were to explore the intricacies of Tony and Megan's platonic relationship, simply put- Tony had at one point a fascination (borderline fetish) for Aviatrixes. On the day Tony met Megan she was wearing a cap and goggle set that closely resembled the type an aviatrix would wear. He was deeply in love with that ensemble right up until the fascination ended and he was no longer interested. Megan, who had merely been a third party externality to Tony's affair with her headwear never bothered to leave for want of adorable company. Also, he made her cakes. And so the two went on as envious girls tried to pry Tony's attention away from the bombshell to his right. It rarely worked to completion, but when it did, the dividends were astronomical. Get the attention of girls. Make Linda jealuos. Ian's a loser. Win Linda Back. This was the plan. Incredible by Brave be damned! When Linda eventually arrived, she came bearing surprises. First of which, she had come alone. Secondly, she was ecstatic to see Tony. Third, she had dyed her hair a very dark red. These were three things Linda knew Tony could not resist. Of course, Tony knew that Linda knew these things. And in that moment of recursion Tony would fall right for it. What was the point in having weaknesses if they were not immune to exploitation. Justification was as beautiful as Linda looked that night. The best part was, Tony didn't even have to do the Railux Run! Linda's apartment was soberingly familiar. There was the MonoSpeaker Tony had helped her pick out. He thought about the kind of music it must have played while Ian was here with Linda. The indecent thought made him hungry. In the corner was Linda's robot unit in need of repair. Tony thought for a moment of volunteering to fix it, then changed his mind in order to avoid a typecasting. It was getting dark Tony's deadline for a worthwhile day was almost up. Day 3: Amazing X Clever Like always, Tony had woken up much earlier than Linda. He turned from his side to his back before putting together the simple fact that Ian had probably stared up at this same ceiling just one too many times. Tony was happy to be back with Linda, but he could not get over Ian. What happened? Who ended things with whom? Suddenly she awoke. "You asshole." Was the first thing she said. Tony, unable to determine right away if she was joking or not, remained silent but made it clear that he heard her. "What the fuck happened last night?" Linda continued. Tony had always been impressed with Linda's propensity for vulgarity. He felt like every time she swore it was a little bit of evidence in her indictment against wholesomeness. "Excuse me?" "What are you even doing here? Shouldn't you be at that little twat's place pretending you're not attracted to her?" Linda let loose. "The whole district knows you two fancy each other. You're just too afraid to lose the last girl in town who'd still give you the time of day." "Sudden." Remarked Tony. "And what was this? Some attempt to test my boundaries? Since when did you care? I thought you were seeing the ProtoBowler." "You're such a dick, Anthony." Linda sat up. "I didn't leave you for Ian, I left because you spent more time with Megan than with me. What are people supposed to think of my boyfriend who'd rather bake cakes for his "friend" than spend time with his girlfriend. God. Gal Friday, what does that even mean?" "I don't know, the Avengers?" "What" "Gal Friday, its from the Avengers, a TV show from the 60s." "Go home Anthony." It was a dull jetpack ride from Linda's place to Doppler's Diner. Usually Tony would have called Megan to keep him entertained. Of course, doing so now would only validate Linda's sentiments. Perry would do for now. "So she just invited you over for a fuck?" Perry was astonished. "And then she confronted you about Megan? Thats bizarre. Are you going to tell Megan?" Tony's answered justly: "No, I don't think I will. Thats what Linda'd want." "You know she's going to want to know." prodded Perry. "Yeah I know." Just then the Diner door flew open. It didn't take long before anyone recognized the new patron- persons in ProtoBowling gear, with all the reticule's and antennae, were hard to miss. "You're a dead man Tony!" Shouted Ian from across the Diner. "Unbelievable" Tony thought. "How cliche' is this right now?" Fortunately, unlike the the countless movies at the Virtual-Plexes, Ian and Tony were actually well matched. If they were in the same wrestling league, they would no doubt be in the same weight division. Controversely, years honing his ProtoBowling skills gave Ian the slightest upper hand in any sort of fisticuffs. Tony thought about his venn diagram from this morning. Amazing by clever. Talking his way out of this situation would alleviate two of his dilemmas. Then again, nothing appeared to solve the larger issue at hand- what to do about Megan and Linda. Either way it didn't matter anymore because at this point Ian's elbow was accelerating at Tony's forehead faster than anything wit might allow. Tony thought of two things at that moment: "ProtoBowling is a great workout, and what a day." And just like that, Tony had one less. Day 4: Unbelievable X Charitable Tony woke up in an orange bedroom knowing full well who he'd be greeted by. There she was, a true sight for sore eyes, as she leaned forward as if looking for something in Tony's head. Perry must have brought him here after the "brawl". Tony could imagine that this was Perry's way of ameliorating the current disparity between his two best friends. Perry is a lot smarter than he lets off. "You idiot." Megan skipped right to the pleasantries. "Your own disaster, I said, your own disaster." Megan was right, not because she was smart; it was mostly because she had a good track record with this sort of thing. "So you slept with her." Megan's tone shifted to stern. "Thanks to me?" "You have no idea, Megs" Tony replied. "Well I hope it was worth it- you owe me one hell of a cake." said Megan. Tony sat up in Megan's bed. It was not the first time he had been in her bed, but it was the first time where he wasn't on the verge of total sloppiness. He gazed at Megan and thought of what Linda said. There was silence. "Give me your dress, Megs." Tony didn't let a hint of humor invade his semantics. Megan stood and stared at Tony for what seemed like hours. There were plenty of clothes on her floor were he asking for some sort of bandage. And unlike their most famed night, Tony was fully dressed and not drunk in the slightest. Maybe it was the lack of alcohol, or the things Linda had said, but as Megan untied to backside of her dress, Tony saw a very different girl standing in front of him. Tony stood up. It was not the first time he had seen her undressed, but it was the first time where the object of his affections was on the receiving end. He gazed at Megan and thought of what Linda said. "Do you love me, Megs?" Her dress was in his hands, his heart was in hers. Or so it would seem until she replied so well adjustably: "I don't, Tony." Day 4: Impressive X Bold At home, HS-11's indicator light was glowing blue signifying an unheard message. Tony read the log: Day 1: Status: Complete Day 2: Status: Complete Day 3: Status: Complete Day 4: Status: Incomplete Day 5: Statue: Pending

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    I sort of won a free edition of this book through a Simon & Schuster UK LiveJournal giveaway. I’m so grateful for my wicked good luck, I’m writing a review! If it encourages anyone to pick up this novel (which you should do), I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (and I’m sure you will). Lucifer Box is a socialite and a portraitist with dashing good looks, but he’s also one of Britain’s most witty secret agents working for His Majesty’s Government. The Vesuvius Club is a first-person narrative of I sort of won a free edition of this book through a Simon & Schuster UK LiveJournal giveaway. I’m so grateful for my wicked good luck, I’m writing a review! If it encourages anyone to pick up this novel (which you should do), I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (and I’m sure you will). Lucifer Box is a socialite and a portraitist with dashing good looks, but he’s also one of Britain’s most witty secret agents working for His Majesty’s Government. The Vesuvius Club is a first-person narrative of Edwardian high society with a behind-the-scenes (most secret) look at the people churning the cogs that make the world go ‘round. This early 20th century who-dunnit tale is punctuated with black ink illustrations that are, appropriately enough, as grotesque and disturbing as some of the weird and dangerous goings-on in the novel itself. Lucifer mixes business with pleasure as he works to pay off a debt of indiscretion known only to him and his boss, Joshua Reynolds. The novel opens with a dazzling display of an artistry of the most deadly variety: a ruse to lure the Honourable Everard Supple into complacency and entrapment exercised by Mr. Box’s indulgent talent for portraiture and a taste for fine dining. Soon after the messy deed is executed and with souvenir in hand, Lucifer makes his drunken way to the men’s lavatory inside the Royal Academy of Art. A good sit and few minutes of waiting reveals a ludicrous meeting between Lucifer and Joshua Reynolds in a headquarters of the “Get Smart” variety. Cleverly (Or stupidly. Lucifer never mentions if the loos actually work) hidden between the stalls, JR assigns Lucifer’s next assignment: Two highly respected scientists have died within a day of each other and the estimable Jocelyn Poop (agent to His Majesty and directly employed under Joshua), hot on their trail of evidence, has gone missing. It’s up to Lucifer to discover the connection between Poop’s disappearance and the mysterious death of the two geologists. To bring all matters to justice begins an investigative journey of near-fatal carriage chases and harrowing, death-defying encounters. Lucifer must contend with all manner of sundry folk and hired help, opium dens, volcanoes, and pleasure domes, all while courting the lovely Bella Pok. And let no one (man or woman), however delectable, stand in his way. There is no task too difficult, no road too winding, no mountain too high, and no partner too unwilling to prevent Lucifer from discovering the horrific truths behind the mysterious Vesuvius Club and the vengeful motivations of a very injured and abandoned human being. Imagine Artemis Fowl without magic, fairies, trolls and the usual fantastic iterations. Let him simmer until he grows very much into an adult. He remains egotistical and enjoys the finer things in life--no discretions made. Mix in a little of the mysteriousness of James Bond and detective work of Sherlock Holmes and this modest concoction reveals itself in Mark Gatiss’s magnificently pleasant and serpentine plot of murder, revenge, sex, and scandal. Mark Gatiss spins a delightfully refreshing mystery with witty prose, engaging characters, fantastic names, and a playful atmosphere. Lucifer’s world is an indulgent one with plush velvets, immaculately tailored garments, fine cigarettes, and devilish secrets. The Vesuvius Club is hilarious and horrific--a fantastic blend of the elements that make for an engrossing and thrilling read full of surprises that kept me reading well into the night. At 240 pages the only crime Gatiss commits is leaving us with such a short installment of Lucifer’s witty and instructive inner dialogue. The good news? There’s already a second Lucifer Box novel available to whet one’s appetite until the third installment arrives later this month.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Just finished “The Vesuvius Club” by Mark Gatiss last night. It was recommended to me by a good friend. I have to say I’m going to listen to her recommendations more often. “The Vesuvius Club” is one of the best books I have read in ages. “The Vesuvius Club” is the first book in the Lucifer Box trilogy. The book itself is hard to describe. It is a thriller. It is a spy novel. It is an historical novel. It is a boy’s own ripper of an adventure yarn. It is deliciously wicked and the hero, Lucifer Bo Just finished “The Vesuvius Club” by Mark Gatiss last night. It was recommended to me by a good friend. I have to say I’m going to listen to her recommendations more often. “The Vesuvius Club” is one of the best books I have read in ages. “The Vesuvius Club” is the first book in the Lucifer Box trilogy. The book itself is hard to describe. It is a thriller. It is a spy novel. It is an historical novel. It is a boy’s own ripper of an adventure yarn. It is deliciously wicked and the hero, Lucifer Box, is, in the words of my friend, an exquisite brute. Lucifer Box is an artist, a bisexual playboy, and one of His Majesty’s most secret agents. But don’t expect James Bond in Edwardian frills. Lucifer Box is more amoral and immoral than Mr Bond is capable of on his worst days. Though Mark Gatiss’ devotion to the immortal Bond shines through the story. “The Vesuvius Club” supplies thrills, danger and excitement, leavened with a generous dash of wit and humor. Many times I had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard I was in danger of dropping the book. The plot of “The Vesuvius Club” revolves around British scientists mysteriously dieing in Italy, and a murdered secret agent. Lucifer is also wooing a beautiful woman, AND a handsome youth, all while someone is trying to kill him! Any sharp eyed Sherlock fans may spot a line that was subsequently stolen by Steve Moffat for “A Scandal in Belgravia”. Not telling you what it is. Have fun finding it. I couldn’t help laughing out loud when I came across it. I hadn’t been aware that Mark Gatiss had written original novels until my friend drew my attention to the book last week. The book was originally published in 2004, but I think “The Vesuvius Club” is still in print, as another friend just purchased a copy in London. Track down a copy for yourself if you can. It will be well worth the effort. Lucifer Box is a brilliant addition to the world of print heroes.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I am very much a fan of Gatiss' writing for TV, such as Sherlock and Doctor Who, so I knew I would enjoy his debut novel when I stumbled upon it in a second hand bookshop. Lucifer Box is and Edwardian artist who lives in Downing Street and has a rapier wit that makes him the lift and soul of the party. He is also a secret agent for the country and here is called to action when some prominent scientists start to be found dead. Who is behind this and why? What is VC? Only a trip to Naples will sol I am very much a fan of Gatiss' writing for TV, such as Sherlock and Doctor Who, so I knew I would enjoy his debut novel when I stumbled upon it in a second hand bookshop. Lucifer Box is and Edwardian artist who lives in Downing Street and has a rapier wit that makes him the lift and soul of the party. He is also a secret agent for the country and here is called to action when some prominent scientists start to be found dead. Who is behind this and why? What is VC? Only a trip to Naples will solve the case! Gatiss describes this as 'a bit of fluff' and I suppose he's not wrong. There is no way this can be described as a great literary work. But it's still a lot of fun, like Oscar Wilde mixed with James Bond, with a hint of Sherlock Holmes. It's as bonkers as that sounds and doesn't apologise for its silliness- in fact it embraces it. I liked the character and the style but the plot let this book down a little. It worked for a while but at the point we find out what the Vesuvius Club actually is it sort of jumps the shark. I feel that in a book like this the ridiculousness does need to be balanced and that this book finds the line and steps straight over it and carries on going. I've noticed in the last few years that there are two distinct groups of people, those who love Gatiss' work and those who hate it. I'm sure that the same can be said for this novel. It's certainly not the author's best work but it was an enjoyable and speedy read and am considering seeking out the sequel.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is a very tricky book to categorise - Mark Gatiss is an actor and a writer and so has an amazing grasp of timing and description however at times he seems to have to labour the point about the main character (and many of the larger supporting ones too) about their traits and flaws as if their names and actions didn't say enough - its almost as if they turn the imaginary camera and say ... yes I am that bad! Don't get me wrong it lends a certain air to the story a mix of drama and suspense w This is a very tricky book to categorise - Mark Gatiss is an actor and a writer and so has an amazing grasp of timing and description however at times he seems to have to labour the point about the main character (and many of the larger supporting ones too) about their traits and flaws as if their names and actions didn't say enough - its almost as if they turn the imaginary camera and say ... yes I am that bad! Don't get me wrong it lends a certain air to the story a mix of drama and suspense with farce and whimsy with a small smattering of fantasy thrown in too. there are many of these types of books out there which I feel are all to often over looked but I will also admit that their style sometimes is a little too heavy headed for some. Me I enjoyed it and for a random gamble I am enjoyed it paid off.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    Lucifer Box is an over-the-top self-involved drama queen who is just as likely to kill an assassin at the behest of the British government as he is to get himself into some kind of sex-fueled trouble. This book has a lot of things I like: spies, drama, international travel, humor, ridiculous schemes -- and yet it falls completely flat. Lucifer is so stuck up it is truly a wonder he doesn't die from sheer inability to see the world around him as anything other than a machine for worshipping him. Lucifer Box is an over-the-top self-involved drama queen who is just as likely to kill an assassin at the behest of the British government as he is to get himself into some kind of sex-fueled trouble. This book has a lot of things I like: spies, drama, international travel, humor, ridiculous schemes -- and yet it falls completely flat. Lucifer is so stuck up it is truly a wonder he doesn't die from sheer inability to see the world around him as anything other than a machine for worshipping him. The main plot surrounds the work of a bunch of scientists, yet when you actually meet the villains they are all so stupid that maintaining the suspension of disbelief requires the reader to shut both eyes. I truly wanted to love this book as the cover related it to two of my favorite authors (Wilde and Lovecraft) and yet I couldn't manage to do so.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristie Schmidt

    SO much fun. Written by one of the Sherlock showrunners years ago, the one who plays his brother, this has all the cleverness of Sherlock Holmes, fun of James Bond and just general cheekiness. The updated sexuality adds another layer of fun. Did I mention fun?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Iza Brekilien

    Why did I borrow this book at the library ? The author is Mark Gatiss, Sherlock's brother in "that" series. That's why. At the beginning, I thought there was a lot of humour, wit, but that the story didn't keep me on my toes. And then, and then... I got carried away, it wasn't awfully original, but it was well written and I found the Lucifer/Charlie dynamics working really well and promised very good times in the future. I'll happily read the next Lucifer box !

  28. 5 out of 5

    Angie Rhodes

    Lucifer Box, now there's a name to make you sit up and take note, tall. slim, long black hair, eyes of blue, beautiful slender hands,(he says this himself) and someone you do not want to cross. Think Sherlock meets Tom Hiddleston(with black hair) and you have the dynamic Lucifer, sigh..He is a secret agent of type, but also an artist, a portrait artist. This is the first in a trilogy of books by Mark Gatiss, (League of Gentlemen, Dr. Who) in which Lucifer, through no fault of his own, I might Lucifer Box, now there's a name to make you sit up and take note, tall. slim, long black hair, eyes of blue, beautiful slender hands,(he says this himself) and someone you do not want to cross. Think Sherlock meets Tom Hiddleston(with black hair) and you have the dynamic Lucifer, sigh..He is a secret agent of type, but also an artist, a portrait artist. This is the first in a trilogy of books by Mark Gatiss, (League of Gentlemen, Dr. Who) in which Lucifer, through no fault of his own, I might add, gets onto a fair few scrapes. Exciting, fun, thrilling, just pure genius. Lucifer Box is someone everyone should read about.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Blake Fraina

    Naughty, bawdy, silly, witty, over-the-top. Just a few ways to describe Mark Gatiss’s rollicking caper - which I enjoyed enormously. Sure, it can be described as Sherlock Holmes meets James Bond (if they’d been brave enough to cast the estimable, dishy Rupert Everett in the role), but it seems to share more DNA with a lesser known British export, The Assassination Bureau, a film starring Oliver Reed and Diana Rigg. Like The Vesuvius Club it’s an anachronistic mash-up of Edwardian starch, wild esp Naughty, bawdy, silly, witty, over-the-top. Just a few ways to describe Mark Gatiss’s rollicking caper - which I enjoyed enormously. Sure, it can be described as Sherlock Holmes meets James Bond (if they’d been brave enough to cast the estimable, dishy Rupert Everett in the role), but it seems to share more DNA with a lesser known British export, The Assassination Bureau, a film starring Oliver Reed and Diana Rigg. Like The Vesuvius Club it’s an anachronistic mash-up of Edwardian starch, wild espionage spoof and hippie era sex comedy. In a word - delightful. What I enjoyed most about the whole affair was that, at the heart of it, narrator and ostensible "hero" Lucifer Box, is rather a pompous ass. I suspect author Mark Gatiss is taking sly aim at the English class system, using the preening, egotistical Box as the perfect model of (to use the parlance of Monty Python) the upper-class twit. Time and again, we see that Box’s mission would fail utterly without the help of his "domestics," the servants and underlings who aide him nearly every step of the way - whether it be with investigating, research, alluding capture or fisticuffs. Unlike with Holmes, there isn’t a lot of deduction going on here, as every revelation seems to come to Box by chance or after the fact entirely. Despite all that, he continues to trumpet his virtues throughout. The only area in which he doesn't appear to overestimate his abilities, is in his powers of attraction, as evidenced by his multitude of conquests - both male and female. A fact that adds a delicous level of subversiveness to the proceedings. This is a terrific, light romp - outlandish, funny, sexy - even a bit suspenseful and surprising. Perfect for a hot, lazy day at the beach.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    Vesuvius Club presents us with a much younger Box than The Devil in Amber did; Lucifer here is not at the very beginning of his career (he already has quite a reputation, it seems, for both spy-work and bed-work) but he is still young and if possible even more egotistical. Of course here he almost deserves to be egotistical -- he's at the top of his game. His game this time involves the murder of a fellow spy / diplomat in Naples and the mysterious but seemingly natural deaths of two scientists w Vesuvius Club presents us with a much younger Box than The Devil in Amber did; Lucifer here is not at the very beginning of his career (he already has quite a reputation, it seems, for both spy-work and bed-work) but he is still young and if possible even more egotistical. Of course here he almost deserves to be egotistical -- he's at the top of his game. His game this time involves the murder of a fellow spy / diplomat in Naples and the mysterious but seemingly natural deaths of two scientists who had worked together in their university days on a theory of "magnetic viscosity in volcanoes." Needless to say, Box gets knee-deep in hot stuff pretty quickly -- hot of the criminal kind and hot of the sexual kind. Before the case really gets going he has made the acquaintance of one Miss Bella Pok with whom he becomes smitten, and not long after he rescues the young Charlie Jackpot and becomes involved (if not enamored) of him as well. There are plot twists and character turn-abouts worthy of the best spy thrillers, delivered in a first-person style that as I said is Wildean in its wit, speed, and brevity. There are sub-plots galore, as well. Like most good Bond stories, there is an opening gambit (in this case, involving a government official and a portrait Box is painting) that you know will dovetail into the main plot eventually, although how might surprise some readers. I do wish I had read these books in order, but reading them out of order wasn't a jarring experience. Knowing what will happen to some of the characters from "Vesuvius" by the time of "Devil" (the first decade of the 1900s vs. the late 1930s) was a minor irritation, at best.

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