A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
I confess that Mark Gatiss is one of my heroes, which is why I wanted to read this book. I admire the breadth of his career (he writes, he acts, he has a seemingly inexhaustible knowledge of horror films) and now we can add "Novelist" to his CV.
This is by no means the best written book you’ll read all year. But it’s probably the cheekiest. You can tell that Gatiss loved writing it. He revelled in his creation of Lucifer Box, the slender, suave cad, man about town and secret agent. An early 20th century Bond, if Bond liked men as well as women and was slightly less sophisticated. Make no mistake, Box, despite his dandified appearance, is at home in all levels of society (though I suspect he prefers the lower levels). He ought to be totally unlikeable, shallow and vain as he is, but he’s so aware of his shortcomings that it’s hard to dislike him. He simply oozes charm.
In this, the first Lucifer Box novel, Lucifer has to look into the deaths of some scientists, which may or may not be linked to the arrest of his friend Christopher Miracle for murder. He is also trying to win the heart of the lovely Bella Pok who is his lone sketching student, while cantering around Italy to stop whatever dastardly plan is in motion.
The book is a caper, peopled with delightfully named characters like Kitty Backlash, Charlie Jackpot and Mrs Midsomer Knight. But it’s also pretty gory and Gatiss – fond of Hammer Horror as he is – does not skimp on the details, so this is not one for those with a weak stomach. The language is velvety and voluptuous that I giggled at it several times.
It’s not for everyone, but for this Gatiss devotee, this romp was a fun way to spend a Sunday morning!
Pocket Books, 2005. ISBN-10: 0743483790. 352pp.