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3.7 out of 5 stars71
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 21 May 2009
Outrageously decadent and unutterably wicked; Doctor Who and League of Gentleman stalwart Mark Gatiss has produced a filthy gem of a novel. Subversive, droll, and downright disgusting in places; Lucifer Box is a thoroughly modern (anti) hero. Bring on the sequel!
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on 20 July 2010
I liked everything about this book, from the bizarre but neatly self-contained plot to the delightfully improbable character names. Lucifer Box is an enjoyably depraved anti-hero with the louche, disaffected air of one of Oscar Wilde's creations. His wry first person narrative style was amusing and easy to read, so I sped through this book in less than a day. The book was missing the final sparkle and wit of Wilde's writing, but it seems unfair to criticise one author for not being enough like another, and this did not detract from what was a thoroughly entertaining mystery.
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VINE VOICEon 21 February 2012
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.

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.
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on 18 December 2014
We wanted something light-hearted for our Christmas meeting and this book fit the bill for many.

`I adored it. Laughed out loud on the bus.'

`Satire, a good piss-take.'

Charlie was a lot of fun.

However, some thought it was unbelievable, too many ridiculous coincidences.

The again, it wasn't meant to be taken seriously. But was just a bit of fun.

One member said: I've been trying to work out why I slung it across the bed in desperation after trying several times to get into it without luck. There is a Radio 4 comedy series which is a spoof of Dickens and I think this very much reminds me of this but the radio spoof is fast and it doesn't let you stop; you are dragged along and it kind of works. But in this case it's as if the gags and puns are getting in the way of both the comedy and the story, so I just gave up. Also, there were many echoes for me of what Mark Gatiss then went on to write for Dr Who and Sherlock (?) which was much better.

Another: this is not my kind of book. It's reminiscent of Percy Wooster and Jeeves with words like `togs' for clothes. One of the few positive things I can say is that I liked the art nouveau cover and illustrations.

The book perked up once we got on to the Vesuvious Club itself.

Like all stories like this, someone sacrifices his life for others.

I had to look up kir = a popular French cocktail made with a measure of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) topped up with white wine.
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on 1 October 2012
This book is the best book I've read in a long time and it's the only spy book I've read and liked. I mainly bought it because I love anything to do with Mark Gatiss (check out League of Gentleman, Crooked House, Sherlock...the list is endless) but Lucifer Box comes out on his own as the less than PC protagonist. It's witty, bizarre and filled with twists that I would never have expected. READ THIS BOOK! Just starting The Devil in the Amber the sequel and that's brilliant so far, also I think this will be my new series of favourite books.
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on 28 July 2012
Ah, The Vesuvius Club. A wonderful book that is quirky enough to keep you laughing on every page and suspenseful enough to keep you gripped on your seat, made even better (if that is even possible) by the magnificent, (and slightly ovary-busting) tones of the delightful Author, Mark Gatiss. If you have any sense of what makes good literature, you should listen to this. Then the sequels. Then go, find where he lives, and give him lots more money to write more. It's honestly worth it.
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on 14 August 2012
This book absolutely hits the spot for me. Mark Gatiss has created a louche, narcissistic and impossibly stylish master spy whose dissolute lifestyle makes James Bond look like a Jesuit.

The story is set in turn of 19th/20th century Europe and portrays the incorrigible Lucifer Box tracking down a deliciously colourful and sinister secret society which threatens the very fabric of the world's society and security. The story's antihero couldn't be happier if the story takes him into brothels and opium dens, his only worry being everyone there recognising him as a regular. Almost every character in the story is someone Lucifer ends up sleeping with, or killing, or sleeping with and then killing. Also, if there's a drink, drug or other vice he hasn't tried by the end of the book it probably hasn't been invented yet.

The book is light and breezy, and captures the spirit of the classic rip-roaring adventure stories and spy thrillers of pre 20th century literature, only with a twisted and bawdy flavour that the writers of the time wouldn't dare use even if they were that way inclined. The second and third in the series get better than this, but this is still a terrific read.
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on 1 July 2013
The Vesuvius Club begins a trilogy of tales about one Lucifer Box, he lives in Downing Street (someone has to) and works for King and Country behind the scenes in the earliest form of national espionage.

Devilish Lucifer becomes embroiled in a mystery surrounding a group of connected men and their mysterious references to the "V.C" as well as helping out friends in trouble and courting a very attractive lady.

Written in 19th Century style but with the ability to include things unmentionable in that era, The Vesuvius Club from the celebrated contributor to both Sherlock and Doctor Who is very witty and incredibly good fun, some of the turns of phrase he uses really made me laugh, and I instantly thought of certain friends who would definitely enjoy this.

Amazon reviews (an average of 3.5 stars) seem to rate this quite low, which confuses me. It's a really great old fashioned romp, and detective story, with original characters. Yes the ending is rather over the top and silly, but it's a fun piece not taking itself seriously. I could clearly see this as a successful TV series and will definitely read its sequels.

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A cross between James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, with the over-confident, over-sexed style of Torchwood.

As a comic novel it doesn't break any new ground. but the deliberate mixture of the historical and the absurd will be a familiar read to fans of Robert Rankin, Jasper Fforde, Malcolm Pryce, and so on. It's fast-paced and all very tongue-in-cheek, but if you can go along with the ride you'll enjoy it.
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on 27 July 2015
Every sentence sweats with the effort to be witty and louche. Oscar Wilde made it look easy, Mark Gatiss does not! I quite enjoyed the story until about half way through, when I reached saturation point. I thought I would scream if had to read another laboured pun or self-consciously amusing surname (Pok, Poop, Miracle, Frenzy, Midsomer-Knight - aaaaaaaaggggggggghhhhhhhhhh).
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