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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Opening the last Box?"
Many moons ago Colonel Sun author Kingsley Amis had an idea for a Bond short story that would be the last adventure for the character. In his 70's retired Commander Bond would receive a message that a master spy was at the Hotel he was staying in for a skiing holiday. Bond would tackle the man and in true Reichenbach Falls style, the pair would go over a cliff...
Published on 11 Mar. 2009 by Bob Marlowe

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Snooker, woggles, lost youth and diabolical masterminds
The third of Mark Gatiss's LUCIFER BOX novels is the usual enjoyable mix of preposterous names and ridiculous situations that were the meat and drink of THE VESUVIUS CLUB and THE DEVIL IN AMBER before it. Maybe it suffers slightly in comparison to the earlier works, or maybe we've just got a little bit used to the main character's little foibles, but it still manages to...
Published on 3 July 2009 by Emanon


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Snooker, woggles, lost youth and diabolical masterminds, 3 July 2009
The third of Mark Gatiss's LUCIFER BOX novels is the usual enjoyable mix of preposterous names and ridiculous situations that were the meat and drink of THE VESUVIUS CLUB and THE DEVIL IN AMBER before it. Maybe it suffers slightly in comparison to the earlier works, or maybe we've just got a little bit used to the main character's little foibles, but it still manages to remain a lot of fun.

This time around the years have flown by once again and Lucifer is now on the brink of retirement in the early 1950s. We are in James Bond parody territory (right down to the cover of the hardback edition which mimic those early editions of Ian Fleming's work so accurately) and some of the language will be very familiar to anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the Fleming style. There are even one or two echoes of old style "Doctor Who" in the mix (I may mention that, mayn't I?)

The tale (of snooker, woggles, lost youth and diabolical masterminds) is briskly told and doesn't outstay its welcome. The elderly Box remains a charmer, but I can't help wondering whether maybe Mark Gatiss will revisit Box in some of his earlier incarnations in later volumes, but anyone who can create such breathtakingly silly character names and plots (and throw a healthy dose of mockery of some of our most sacred cows into the mix along the way) deserves to be more widely read. The opening lines of the final chapter alone make the read worthwhile. I don't think it's quite the best of Mark Gatiss, but it's still an entertaining yarn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable, 22 May 2010
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This review is from: Black Butterfly: A Lucifer Box Novel (Lucifer Box 3) (Paperback)
I loved the first book in this series, the 2nd wasn't quite as good, but still very good. This however was a bit of a letdown. Not nearly as sexy and charming as the other books, which I suppose is fair enough given that Lucifer is now a lot older.

Although some of the loss of charm and sexiness can be attributed to Lucifer aging, I feel that Gatiss' writing just isn't up to scratch in this one. It's not as exciting, and the story seems to pass far too quickly, with not much happening.

However, it is a good read and doesn't take long to finish. It is still pretty enjoyable, but no where near as good as the first (or second).

But I love the cheeky little ending. It put a big smile on my face! It's worth reading just for that!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Opening the last Box?", 11 Mar. 2009
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Many moons ago Colonel Sun author Kingsley Amis had an idea for a Bond short story that would be the last adventure for the character. In his 70's retired Commander Bond would receive a message that a master spy was at the Hotel he was staying in for a skiing holiday. Bond would tackle the man and in true Reichenbach Falls style, the pair would go over a cliff together.
He duly contacted Glidrose(who looked after the rights) and they not only refused permission but insisted he promise to never write anythnig with an elderly 007!
Fortunately Mark Gatiss is rather less precious about his creation and has given us a story of a spy who's really a bit too old physically for the game but compensates with a youthful energy. As with Devil in Amber there is more of a bisexual 007 feel than the Avengers style of Vesuvius Club. The older Lucifer has been made Head of the service, taking the Joshua Reynolds title. On the eve of retirement he is living on past glories a little, having his advances blunty rebuffed by a young fan and he spends evenings in a disreputable drinking den run by his ex-domestic Delihla.
Then of course he gets sucked into a new adventure involving curious deaths, a Turkish Geordie, a lady Snooker Demon, and even some scouts thrown in for good measure.
Lucifer has a son Christmas Box but for some time Gatiss keeps us guessing what if any, part he will play.
There's all the humours and roller coaster pacing of Devil in Amber (still my favourite) and in an especially nice touch as Box and Delilha run after someone Box remarks on their hips clicking like "knitting needles!"
There are hints of missing stories, the best of which is a zombie Captain Scott attacking from his ship the Terra Nova.

Whether there will be more chronogically seems unlikely, Box has gone from the turn of the century to the Coronation of our Queen but we can live in hope of gaps being filled in or new adventures with the next generation.
If you enjoy spy or detective stories with humour and if you have enjoyed Mark's writing elsewhere, then give these tales a go. It doesn't matter too much the order you read them in, they're self-contained enough to enjoy in any direction.
Well done Mr. Gatiss, I wait for Terra Nova or Son of Box!
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2.0 out of 5 stars A decent pulp novel that never reaches the genre bending excellence of its predecessors..., 1 Aug. 2012
Like many reviewers of this book, I find myself conflicted over the latest adventure of Lucifer Box.

It's always a pleasure to spend time with the mischievous artist-come-spy and the delicious pulp settings in which he finds himself. Many of the regular facets of the earlier novel are present in `Black Butterfly' as Lucifer investigates a series of apparently unrelated deaths amongst Britain's ruling class. Every name is a pun, every character and situation a smart parody of genre tropes and Box trots through all of this with glimpses of the wit and immorality that characterised his earlier outings.

Unfortunately, where the novel departs from the established conventions of the series, it works less well. Box is now an old man on the verge of retirement and no longer the greatest seducer in Christendom. He is beaten down, creaking and harbouring doubts about his own abilities. If `The Devil in Amber' was a Victorian James Bond romp, this almost feels like a George Smiley outing. Fittingly, therefore, Box at the end of his career is `Joshua Reynolds', station chief of the blackest of secret services, the Royal Academy. This eminence seems to weight him down as arthritic limbs slow him and possible paramours impolitely deflect his advances.

Once, this was a character driven more by his libido than his duty; without that roguish streak throughout, the central protagonist just seems less irresistible. It also means that without the thrill of seeing Lucifer at work, structural problems with the novel become more apparent. In two-hundred pages, there is insufficient room to develop a really engaging plot, which feels very linear, and the sense of threat is minimal as the villain remains insubstantial until the last fifth.

I respect Mr Gatiss for trying to keep the series fresh and push the possibilities of his character beyond a simple rinse and repeat formula. For me, however, much of the appeal of Lucifer Box was his louche, devil-may-care amorality. Once this is compromised, the whole story held less appeal and the plot alone is not enough to keep my interest - fortunately, the novel is remarkably short so doesn't stay around long enough to become boring.

I'm not sure it's entirely the author's fault. The pulp spy genre in general works best when riffing on themes time and time again and I'm not sure it can cope with a novelist trying to push it beyond its limitations.

There's still much to like here -the language is often lovely, sexy and funny- but it just seems slight compared to previous entries and Box himself less inimitable. I don't see how the series can really continue from here; having said that, if ever the story of the zombie Captain Scott is told, then I'll be back!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Bond? Lucifer Bond?, 2 Feb. 2009
By 
M. A. Smith "smartysmiffy" (Ilford, UK) - See all my reviews
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Having thoroughly enjoying the two previous Lucifer Box books, when I realised there was a third, I had to read it. And, although I enjoyed it, I felt it didn't hit the heights of the previous novels. I can't really put my finger on why. I thought it may be because of some particularly clumsy, obvious, word play. At some point there is mention of Box's adventures fighting 'Victoria Wine and her sidekick Oddbins.' This sort of thing jars and feels a little out of place with some other writing. However, Mark Gatiss always seems to redeem himself from this. Half a page after this 'word play' (?) he uses the words 'unnecessarily ginger' to describe a vicar. I love this about the writing - two words to describe a character and you can picture them clearly.

Other reviews here mention the book's similarity to James Bond stories and while I concede that the globe trotting nature of the story mirrors some of James Bond's adventures - the zippy pace of the book also being similar to Ian Fleming's pace - I didn't really get the idea that this was a homage to James Bond. Maybe because the characters of Box and Bond are so different that no matter how similar to the Bond novels this book is the characters are poles apart.

I love reading about Lucifer Box and like other reviewers here, would love more adventures to fill in the missing years between the novels.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lucifer Box growing old disgracefully, 14 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Black Butterfly: A Lucifer Box Novel (Lucifer Box 3) (Paperback)
It is 1952 and an ageing Lucifer Box is still hanging on, still shocking the prim sensibilities of the age and still entertaining. We are in the era of Ian Fleming's Bond now, and Gatiss does a terrific job of emulating Fleming's taut, economical prose for a time. Mostly though, we are in a more elegaic mood, with Box doing one last job, feeling the effects of age and time.

As always the story and settings are colourful and preposterous, and the characters are a sexually ambivalent, joyously outrageous mix of rogues and dangerous perverts. And that's just the good guys. Often in stories like this the hero has to play it straight (pun intended) while the villains have all the fun pushing the moral envelope. Mark Gatiss's world is much more interesting than that, and the story rattles on as entertainingly as before.

It's not quite as fun or as thrilling as previous instalments though, as Lucifer Box the dirty old man trying to stave off arthritis to save the world one last time doesn't quite measure up to the younger, more vigorous version. There's still loads to enjoy for anyone with a fondness for classic adventure stories and a taste for characters who are, well, a bit pervy.

Great fun, and highly recommended.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Box is back...., 6 Nov. 2008
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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The name's Box, Lucifer Box...

Yes, Gatiss's improbable spoof spy hero is back. Introduced in his youth ("The Vesuvius Club") in the decadent '90s (the 1890s, that is) appearing again middle aged in the 20s ("The Devil in Amber") and now facing retirement at the end of a hectic career, Box has to save the world one last time. His adventures take him to Istanbul and Jamaica, pursuing (in every sense) the enigmatic Kingdom Kum and the sinister Black Butterfly.

Each of these books is a take on a different action/ thriller genre. Box, now head of Her Majesty's Most Secret Service (cover name: The Royal Academy: head, Joshua Reynolds) takes on villains of the deepest dye, saved from certain death only by his native courage and agility.

Inevitably, perhaps, sooner or later Box would take on a Bond-like persona. While he carries this off with some aplomb, I'm not sure that the story rattles along with quite the same assurance as the earlier ones, hence 3 stars. But that is (I hope) only a minor quibble, this is still very good. Dare I hope for more Lucifer Box stories, to fill in the missing years?
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3.0 out of 5 stars I was a little disappointed but it is still a good read, 26 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Black Butterfly: A Lucifer Box Novel (Lucifer Box 3) (Paperback)
Having already read the two preceding Lucifer Box novels, I had high hopes for the third one. The story follows the actions of a now aged Lucifer Box as he takes on his "last" mission to uncover the secrets of the Black Butterfly.

I must admit I was a little disappointed that Gatiss has already traded in my favourite rascal for an older, arguably less adventurous version. The best things, in my opinion, about the young Lucifer Box (his confident charm, his massive sex drive, and his overall jamminess) have been toned down in this book. The adventure itself is also a toned down version of the ones in the other books. It seems as if Lucifer just sort of falls into it at the last moment and nothing is really cleared up (i.e. the main villain is the son of a dead character that the reader knows close to nothing about. It is very hard to relate and feel a part of the story.

Overall, the book is my least favourite of the Lucifer Box series so far but it is still a very good read and I would recommend it to most people. My advice is just not to get your hopes up and you just might enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully balanced, 18 May 2012
By 
Hannah (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Butterfly: A Lucifer Box Novel (Lucifer Box 3) (Paperback)
Having adored the two novels that preceded Black Butterfly, I was a little nervous that the final Lucifer Box adventure might fall flat. I needn't have worried. Extra pathos abound as our dashing, devilish hero comes to terms with his twilight years and all the adventure and innuendo a Box fan could hope for.

A delight, tinged with hope this isn't the end of Lucifer Box.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A ripping yarn,, 31 Dec. 2008
By 
Martin Dolphin (Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I've really enjoyed Mark Gatiss's earlier two Lucifer Box novels - moody, sexy and plenty of tongue in cheek fun. This latest novel is ok, but not a patch on the earlier ones - as others have pointed out he's a bit too bond like and I think Gatiss has aged him too quickly - he's retiring in this book. Maybe as a result it's no where near as sexy as the previous too.

Good, but not brilliant!
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Black Butterfly: A Lucifer Box Novel (Lucifer Box 3)
Black Butterfly: A Lucifer Box Novel (Lucifer Box 3) by Mark Gatiss (Paperback - 6 July 2009)
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