4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Erika (Jawas Read, Too)
- Published on Amazon.com
Clinging to the back of car with the wind whipping through his hair, Lucifer Box returns with relish in The Devil in Amber, the second Lucifer Box novel by British writer and producer Mark Gatiss. Never one to downplay his best features or feats of wonder and derring-do, Lucifer lunges into his latest tale years, a continent away, and an entire war after his last adventure. Things at the Royal Academy of Arts have changed--head of office Joshua Reynolds is long retired and expired, his nomenclature a title of position as much as a cover for his real identity; a new Joshua Reynolds has replaced the role of a much beloved boss and bathroom-stall-occupier. Gone are the quaint quirks of the pre-war RA, taken over by starcher standards and the fresh, young blood of Percy--Perce--Flarge. Everything is rubbing Lucifer the wrong way and for a man quite accustomed to his carnal and material luxuries, this simply cannot continue.
The newest incarnation of Joshua Reynolds is a no-nonsense type of man with little to no sense of humor, a penchant for the fast-paced post-war society and lifestyle, and an intense dislike for all things archaic and out-dated--Lucifer Box included. With this roadblock to navigate around, Lucifer finds himself faced with what could be--if JR has his way--his last (most secret) mission under His Majesty's Government. Fresh off his latest kill, Lucifer is sitting on what he believes to be a vital piece of evidence his young, upstart rival missed upon searching the body. With no intentions to make this public (i.e. tell JR and risk losing his trump card), Lucifer keeps the scrap to himself and listens as Joshua explains his latest job: an organization called F.A.U.S.T (Fascist Anglo-United States Tribune) spear-headed by Olympus Mons is rumored to be stirring up Fascist sympathizers on both sides of the pond. The RA needs an extra pair of eyes to investigate matters; JR grudgingly extends the position to Lucifer and passes on the scheduled meeting place of a disillusioned deserter willing to talk and share all information F.A.U.S.T.
Like The Vesuvius Club, Gatiss' second installment of the Lucifer Box trilogy is witty, elegant, mysterious, dark, and above all, entertaining like you wouldn't believe. It follows a formula similar to its predecessor with all roads inevitably leading to the thunderous and frightening climax rife with drugs, sex, cult followers, the supernatural, evil beyond measure, and communion wafers. The plot unfolds marvelously to reveal a lot of wicked double-crossings, unexpected encounters, surprising revelations, and an astounding array of puns. As we follow Lucifer, hot on the trail of an American drug cartel, there is yet another mysterious and irresistible damsel to pursue, a mountain to climb (mountain, volcano--same thing), and a bit more heart as Lucifer has more than just his reputation on the line. His sister, Pandora, plays a leading role opposite her brother and with this stroll into his past, the evasive Lucifer gains a bit more dimension.
I enjoyed The Devil in Amber more than The Vesuvius Club for a couple of reasons. Lucifer, in his middle age, has developed a bit of an emotional attachment to several people. The superficial (albeit lovable) rogue invites the reader into his psyche for some memorable (but brief), touching, and very human moments. Some of which are when we learn (through Lucifer) the fate of fellows like Christopher Miracle, the former Joshua Reynolds, and Charlie Jackpot. The added drama of Lucifer's threatened standing within the RA made me root for him and all his silliness against the roaring upstarts of Percy and the new JR.
This second installment seems to prepare us for what will be the third and last (unfortunately) Lucifer Box novel. The Devil in Amber is our warning shot with cautionary dramatic interludes that must inevitably prepare us to say goodbye to our well-dressed and well-groomed portraitist. Even portraiture is in danger of disappearing! But before I dissolve into a puddle of despair I need to remind myself that this isn't the end just yet. The Black Butterfly is still on my shelf and next in line to read. Lucifer is a constant performer, a lethal and handsome combination that I'm sure will make for an explosive finale--or at least, a devilishly good-looking one. I whole-heartedly recommend this one!!