Lucifer Box, His Majesty's most daring secret agent, dresses as nattily as James Bond, has the unrestrained ego of Austin Powers, and is as competent as Inspector Clouseau. Always proper and polite, even when terminating his targets, Box has now been called on a special assignment involving the mysterious Vesuvius Club to find out who's murdering the scientists of Edwardian England. Even under the most heinous conditions, Box prides himself on his impeccable grooming and beauty, volunteering that a baroness once told him that she could cut her wrists on his cheekbones. Box's quest for perfection in his clothing leads him to do things of which mere mortals would never dream, such as popping the glass eye out of a victim to secure a sample of a particular shade of green to show his tailor. Full of Edward Gorey-ish humor-think of Box as Gomez Addams's other brother-and a supporting cast of equally bizarre secondary characters, this unexpected, outrageous, morbid, and wickedly funny book will make an entertaining addition to public libraries of all sizes. Gattis, an actor who played not one but several characters in the BBC television production of The League of Gentlemen, is currently working on a movie of the same name. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 6/1/05.]-Shelley Mosley, Glendale Community Coll. Lib., AZ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A popular Edwardian painter lives a highly satisfying double life as a government agent and assassin. Gatiss, author of four novels based on the Doctor Who television series and a member of the Pythonesque sketch-comedy team League of Gentlemen, presents the droll narrative of Lucifer Box, Number 9 Downing Street, thickly punctuated with barbed bons mots as his life is with recreational sexual encounters. After introducing himself to the reader and knocking off a portrait of Hon. Everard Supple, Lucifer knocks off Supple himself, revealing that he works for His Majesty's Secret Service and that Supple was a dangerous anarchist with violent plans. Then Lucifer's painter friend, Joshua Reynolds ("the dwarf"), also of the Secret Service, informs him of the murders of two prominent scientists in Naples, with more to follow. Meantime, Lucifer's begun taking on private art students to boost his income. The first is Bella Pok (a typical pun), a pert beauty who entrances her teacher. When Neapolitan agent Jocelyn Poop goes missing, Lucifer, who must investigate this case as well as the apparent murder spree, accedes to Bella's coquettish pleas to accompany him. In Naples, Lucifer teams up with breathtaking rent boy Charlie Jackpot and finds the eponymous hedonistic establishment, as well as a haunted estate and a gender-bending surprise, on his way to the solution. Cheeky, decadent fun, from start to finish.
"Darkly erudite and fiendishly unputdownable Lucifer Box is the most likeable scoundrel since Flashman."
Jasper Fforde, author of The Big Over Easy and The Eyre Affair
"With its quaint dust jacket and Beardsely-inspired illustrations, the book feels like a visitor from a more elegant era; it has the smell of fin de siecle about it....[Lucifer Box] belongs to a lineage which stretches from Sherlock Holmes to the indestructible James Bond, via the queasy phantasmagoria of Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu stories...But Gatiss is more than a pasticheur; he has ambitions beyond literary ventriloquism. Midway through the story, Box is revealed to be bisexual, and we feel that this is a novel which Doyle, Stevenson, and Rider Haggard would not have been allowed to write. Giddily inventive and packed with delirious incident, it suggests a post-modern project comparable to Michael Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White."
The Times Literary Supplement (London)
"Gatiss mixes in The League of Gentlemen's penchant for horror with large doses of arch wit and louche laying about. It's Oscar Wilde crossed with H.P. Lovecraft....this could be the bit of fluff you've been looking for."
The Telegraph (London)
"It's Gatiss's impeccable lightness of touch and huge delight in wordplay that makes this a joy. Studded with epigrams, asides, such wonderful names as Strangeways Pugg and Everard Supple, this is a wickedly written romp to put a smile on the face of anyone amused by the strange alchemy of the words 'a peculiar horror of artichokes'"
SFX magazine (UK)
"Plenty of sly comic detail (Box lives at Number 9 Downing Street 'because someone has to') and a surrealist narrative that fans of The League of Gentlemen will recognize...kidnapped scientists, poisonous centipedes, foggy chases through London by hackney cab, and a fiendish volcano-based conspiracy that provides the big SFX climax. It's all great fun."
Time Out (London)
"The preposterous Lucifer is an entertaining hero and The Vesuvius Club is a hugely enjoyable romp."
Image magazine (UK)
"Self-deprecatingly subtitled A bit of Fluff...Gatiss' prose is upholstered in a rather superior grade of fluff: redolent of soft leather chairs in fine gentlemen's establishments, and the cracking of whips in the basements beneath them....Set amid the decadent fleshpots of the Edwardian demi-monde, the novel introduces the raffish toast of London society, Lucifer Box, leading portraitist of the age and undercover agent on behalf of His Majesty's government....Box works his way dandyishly through a sequence of adventures which leads him to penetrate a secret Neapolitan crime ring, plus the willing rinfs of several secretive Neapolitans....perniciously addictive piece of escapism."
The Guardian (London)
"Lucifer Box, society darling and spy, investigates the secret Vesuvius Club. Brilliant stuff."
Heat magazine (UK)
"In the appallingly appealing Lucifer Box, Mark Gatiss has created an anti-hero for the ages. Watching the number of chapters, then pages, dwindle, was heart-rending. No one has ever combined the seedy, the stylish, the rumbustious, the raffish, the egregious, the outrageous, the high and the low with such wit and grace."
Stephen Fry, author of Revenge and The Liar
"Mark Gatiss has brought his customary wit and outlandish style to the page...sharp, witty and shocking."
Derby Evening Telegraph (UK)