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on 21 November 2006
Mark Gatiss' splendid second book in his Lucifer Box trilogy catches up with our eponymous hero twenty years after the Edwardian adventures of `The Vesuvius Club'.

Lucifer is now middle aged and feeling under threat from a new generation of secret agents. He's still beautiful and his body lean (as he informs the reader from time to time) but there is now a subtle underlying wariness and vulnerability to Box, which somehow matches the late 1920s historical setting & the darker plotline.

The story opens with Lucifer's latest mission, a hit on a New York gangster, in a cold, wintry 1920s New York. He receives unrequested help in this matter from Percy Flarge, one of the young challengers to Box's supreme position as `the best'.

It is amid this art deco New York setting that Box is assigned to observe the activities of F.A.U.S.T fascist leader Olympus Mons & find out about the possible threat he and his band of Amber Shirts may pose.

That threat becomes terrifyingly clear as the brilliantly fast paced and exciting adventure develops. Mons is a fascist Satanist who will stop at nothing to harness the forces of darkness & have the Devil himself at his side in his bid for world power!

`The Devil in Amber' makes you reel at the inventiveness on display - a thrilling plot that is dynamic and gripping, it will leave you breathless as it builds to its dramatic conclusion.

Mark Gatiss' brilliant use of language helps create such tension and atmosphere as well providing an unerringly convincing historical setting. His writing is also effortlessly witty - this book appeals on so many different levels.

The comic tone in `The Devil in Amber' is much darker than `The Vesuvius Club'. This is partly due to the plot, which takes in the rise of Fascism, satanic threats and the spectre of the Devil.

There is however also a melancholic undercurrent which suffuses the whole book too. Lucifer is one of the generation who survived the First World War & there are subtle expressions of vulnerability, mortality and sad, bitter memories - none more so than when Box pays a solitary visit to a lonely war memorial in the unforgiving cold of the Swiss countryside.

This is reflected in the terser, colder language which skilfully matches & plays with the popular adventure genre of the late 1920s and 1930s period.

There is light to balance the shade. Lucifer Box's first person narration provides one liners which drip from his lips with ease, as if he were casually tapping ash from a lit cigarette. Not only are they extremely funny but they encapsulate his personality wonderfully.

Lucifer has a very memorable adversary in Olympus Mons. The descriptions of Mons' Hitlerian rages are fantastic. You really do feel you are in the presence of a psychotic, unhinged megalomaniac.

I also have to mention, in complete contrast to the demonic Mons, the wonderful Mrs Croup, who comes to Lucifer's aid. An aged, sex starved Australian who is obsessed with real life murders & collects newspaper cuttings on them, she is a superb comic grotesque, whose sayings made me laugh out loud.

The quality of `The Devil in Amber' is too damn good to be just an entertaining pastiche of a Boy's Own adventure of the period. Both of Mark's Lucifer Box books are fantastic reads in their own right & with the narrative arcs, background stories and attention to detail that The League of Gentlemen have always provided, we can only hope for many further Lucifer Box stories to come.
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on 4 July 2007
The return of Lucifer Box results in an adventure as thrilling as "The Vesuvius Club", populated with a similar array of colourful grotesques: Box's escapades with Mother Croup are particularly hilarious. And if anything the change of style and era results in a sleeker, more tightly plotted story than its predecessor.

Have to admit, I'm rather puzzled by the sneering review from Emil 22. I see from his/her only other book review on Amazon that this reviewer didn't enjoy "The Vesuvius Club", so I was wondering why (s)he had also invested in the follow-up. Then of course I realised - (s)he hasn't! The review is entitled "Predictions" and begins "let me guess..." Why post a review of something you clearly haven't read?! "There will be crap illustrations"... Will there? Surely if you have a copy of the book, you'd be stating this in the present tense. As for the illustrator being "his best mate", where did you glean this little nugget of information? You state that there are "two previous books", when in fact there has only been one - and you can't even guess at the plot correctly. Box's love interest in this instalment is actually female.
Emil seems to have some kind of personal grudge against Mr Gatiss. It seems slightly bizarre (and not particularly helpful) to post negative reviews on Amazon about products that (s)he clearly hasn't read...
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on 25 October 2006
Another gripping chapter in the continuing adventures of Lucifer Box. This time our aging-yet still magnificent-hero finds himself embroiled in a fascist plot playing out on both sides of the Atlantic. Mark Gatiss' fast-paced and witty prose continues to be thoroughly enjoyable in what I hope will be merely the opening volumes in this series.
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on 20 December 2006
Fans of Mark Gatiss will revel in this wonderfully written, absurd, erotically charged James Bond meets, well...the league of gentlemen adventure.

This is the second installment of the charismatic rogue Lucifer Box, and it's every bit as fast paced and witty as the first. Mark Gatiss is an utter genius, his use of the english language is pure poetry, I really can not rave enough about this titillating read of fiendish proportions!

It's enough to quicken even a dead mans pulse.
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on 30 October 2006
...with a bang (yes, that sort, you understand). In the second Lucifer Box offering, Mark Gatiss has created a triumph which will no doubt be read one, twice and thrice over.

I hungrily devoured the novel in just two days. Lucifer has emerged from the 1800s into the new century of the roaring Twenties/Thirties, an art deco world which is at once unfamiliar yet perfectly portrayed by Gatiss, I feel.

The main theme of the book - satanism - is captured splendidly, and the prose, oh, the beautiful prose!

I can only be honoured that I share a similar moniker to that of the splendid Mr Box.

I thoroughly recommend this book - congratulations Monseuir G.
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on 9 April 2013
I really loved the style of this book. Lucifer Box is the best, most entertaining sort of heartless cad to read about. Suave, sophisticated and he rides the no 38 AND no 19 buses.

Unusually for a sequel, I think this is actually the best of the three Lucifer Box novels and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Quite sexy in some places; I suppose a bit like Flashman but without any of that history nonsense slowing him down.
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on 26 July 2010
I bought the box set of all three Lucifer Box novels because of the glowing reviews. Proves the old adage 'never judge a book by its cover'. After working my way through a surprisingly colourless and laboured first novel, I had hopes that Gatiss would find a consistent and entertaining voice for Box in The Devil in Amber. I was disappointed. I'm still a bit puzzled as to what aim Gatiss had with these novels - he's obviously a big Sherlock Holmes fan, and there are elements of Flashman, Bond and Raffles too, but none of their authors' skill, and certainly lightness of touch. The period details seem bolted on every now and again, Box tends to lapse into unconsciousness when the story goes down a dead end, the characterisation varies between shallow and non-existent and the writing just isn't that good. however, easily the worst part of this novel is the plot. When a writer has to rely on an un-ironic and wholly Old Testament Satan to get things moving and provide the climax, you know he's struggling for ideas. A really disappointing book - I'm not even sure I'll bother with the third one.
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on 11 February 2008
Although I respect Mr Davywavy's eloquent review of the Devil in Amber I in no way think it deserves only 2 stars. Hence forth I have given it 5 stars to even it out. It's a cracking (and yes derivative) story but in what Indiana Jones movie does the hero bed both a bell boy and the leading lady (on seperate on occasions) and then proceed to give out pithy quotes whilst running naked in only a towel chased by the 1930's NYPD? Say no more. Enjoy! It's a 4 star book for sheer bloody adventure and intelligence. Hurrah!
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VINE VOICEon 28 February 2014
It's hard to really see the purpose of these books by Gatiss. Taking the mickey out of bad fiction is okay I guess, but when it produces equally dire stuff I'm not sure what the ultimate point is. The Devil In Amber cocks a snook at the thrillers or shockers of the 1920s and 1930s, and most pointedly one would suspect the work of Dennis Wheatley and some of his occult thrillers.

It's well-written but lame stuff, with the unlikely and emminently unlikeable hero Lucifer Box scarpering about from New York to Europe to foil some plot to bring the devil back to life. Set against the background of European fascism, it runs on way too long for what is quite a short novel, and overall reaching the end brings a sense of relief.

Spoofs or affectionate impersonations need some sort of point to them - but I couldn't really get it here. Won't be bothering with the series finale Black Butterfly because life is too short to waste on rubbish fiction. "I want more" cries Stephen Fry from the back cover reviews. No Stephen, we don't.
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on 3 December 2014
A witty spy, a big adventure, an exciting setting and Mark Gatiss' amazing writing style - everything is right there. I enjoyed reading the Lucifer Box series tremendously. If you are a lover of James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, but you like it a bit spicy and open minded and like to have a good laugh while reading, you should totally buy not only this one, but also The Vesuvius Club and Black Butterfly since The Devil in Amber's only the second part of a series that actually contains 3 novels. Go on, have fun! :)
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