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Vesuvius Club [Mass Market Paperback]

Mark Gatiss

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2004
Lucifer Box is the darling of the Edwardian belle monde - society's most fashionable portrait painter is a wit, a dandy, a rake, the guest all hostesses (and not a few hosts) must have.
But few know that Lucifer Box is also His Majesty's most accomplished and daring secret agent. Beneath London's faÁade of Imperial grandeur and divine aesthetes seethes an underworld of crazed anarchists, murder, and despicable vice, and Box is at home in both.
And so of course when Britain's most prominent scientists begin turning up dead, there is only one man his country can turn to.
Lucifer Box ruthlessly deduces and seduces his way from his elegant townhouse at Number 9 Downing Street (all his father left him), to private stews of London and the seediest, most colourful back alleys of Italy, in search of the mighty secret society that may hold the fate of the world in its claw-like hands - the Vesuvius Club.

Frequently Bought Together

Vesuvius Club + The Devil in Amber
Price For Both: CDN$ 21.88

  • The Devil in Amber CDN$ 11.99

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; New edition edition (Sept. 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743483790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743483797
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 100 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #263,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'The most delicious, depraved, inventive, macabre and hilarious literary debut I can think of. In the appallingly appealing Lucifer Box, Mark Gatiss has created an anti-hero for the ages. Watching the number of chapters, then pages, dwindle was heart-rending...no one has ever combined the seedy, the stylish, the rumbustious, the raffish, the egregious, the outrageous, the high and the low with such wit and grace. More, I want more!'
Stephen Fry

'Self-deprecatingly subtitled "a bit of fluff"...Gatiss's prose is upholstered in a rather superior grade of fluff: redolent of soft leather chairs in fine gentlemen's establishments, and the cracking of whips in the basements beneath them. Set amid the decadent fleshpots of the Edwardian demi-monde, the novel introduces the raffish toast of London society, Lucifer box, leading portraitist of the age and undercover agent on behalf of His Majesty's government. A dandy and a bounder, Box works his way dandyishly through a sequence of adventures which leads him to penetrate a secret Neapolitan crime ring, plus the willing rings of several secretive Neapolitans.... perniciously addictive piece of escapism'

'A breathless caper set in Edwardian London. Although it's humbly subtitled 'A Bit of Fluff' it far more resembles the kind of monster fur ball you'd find lurking beneath the bed in a seaside hotel...A stylishly published volume...but beneath all the fuzz lies a genuine darkness'

'With its quaint dust jacket and Beardsley-inspired illustrations, the book feels like a visitor from a more elegant era . . . Giddily inventive and packed with delirious incident, it suggests a post-modern project comparable to Michel Faber's pseudo-Dickensian 'The Crimson Petal and the White'. It is easy to imagine Oscar Wilde, on a chaise longue, smoking an absurdly expensive cigarette, reading THE VESUVIUS CLUB and laughing out loud at its playful decadence and wit. There can surely be no higher praise'

'Gatiss mixes in THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN's penchant for horror with large doses of arch wit and louche laying about. It's Oscar Wilde crossed with H.P. Lovecraft....this could be the bit of fluff you've been looking for'

'If you're going to have humorous pastiche, give me this any day, with its evocations of Edwardian melodrama and derring-do'

'It's Gatiss's impeccable lightness of touch and huge delight in wordplay that makes this a joy. Studded with epigrams, asides, such wonderful names as Strangeways Pugg and Everard Supple, this is a wickedly written romp to put a smile on the face of anyone amused by the strange alchemy of the words "a peculiar horror of artichokes"'

About the Author

Mark Gatiss writes for the multiaward-winning British television comedy The League of Gentlemen, on which he portrays a debt collector, a cursed veterinarian, a dog cinema owner who has recently branched out into VHS and DVD rentals, and a Knight Rider fan, among many other characters. He also stars in the feature film The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse and has written episodes for the rejuvenated Doctor Who television series. He lives in a laboratory with a stuffed cat.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilde's dandy reloaded Oct. 7 2005
By Critique that - Published on Amazon.com
I rarely give out five stars but this stylish, aloofly decadent novella is worth it. A tongue in cheek look borrowed from Wilde and partly from Flemming's delightful Bond. Lucifer Box is the perfect Victorian gentlemen, with their respect for values and morals-only upheld in the most hypocritical sense, devastatingly beautiful and leading the most successful dual personality since The importance of being Earnest. A bit of fluff certainly, blending all genres into one from horror-gothic, romance, drama and tragedy. With an exaggerated air for the melodramatic, Gatiss leads us on the most addictive journey around England and the 'continent'. One can almost smell the orchids and feel the sweltering heat of Italy and see the finely cut suits of Mr. Box as he fights 'the forces of evil' impecabbly cut and dressed with a dashing mysterious femme fatale hanging off his arm. Mr. Box explores all that is truely 'Victorian' (in the most underworld, revealing meaning) in a laugh out loud, yet charismatically seductive way. Read it. Well done Gatiss, a true tour de force.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cheeky and Decadent! Dec 1 2008
By Erika (Jawas Read, Too) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I sort of won a free edition of this book through a Simon & Schuster UK LiveJournal giveaway. I'm so grateful for my wicked good luck, I'm writing a review! If it encourages anyone to pick up this novel (which you should do), I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (and I'm sure you will).

Lucifer Box is a socialite and a portraitist with dashing good looks, but he's also one of Britain's most witty secret agents working for His Majesty's Government. The Vesuvius Club is a first-person narrative of Edwardian high society with a behind-the-scenes (most secret) look at the people churning the cogs that make the world go `round.

This early 20th century who-dunnit tale is punctuated with black ink illustrations that are, appropriately enough, as grotesque and disturbing as some of the weird and dangerous goings-on in the novel itself. Lucifer mixes business with pleasure as he works to pay off a debt of indiscretion known only to him and his boss, Joshua Reynolds. The novel opens with a dazzling display of an artistry of the most deadly variety: a ruse to lure the Honourable Everard Supple into complacency and entrapment exercised by Mr. Box's indulgent talent for portraiture and a taste for fine dining. Soon after the messy deed is executed and with souvenir in hand, Lucifer makes his drunken way to the men's lavatory inside the Royal Academy of Art. A good sit and few minutes of waiting reveals a ludicrous meeting between Lucifer and Joshua Reynolds in a headquarters of the "Get Smart" variety. Cleverly (Or stupidly. Lucifer never mentions if the loos actually work) hidden between the stalls, JR assigns Lucifer's next assignment: Two highly respected scientists have died within a day of each other and the estimable Jocelyn Poop (agent to His Majesty and directly employed under Joshua), hot on their trail of evidence, has gone missing.

It's up to Lucifer to discover the connection between Poop's disappearance and the mysterious death of the two geologists. To bring all matters to justice begins an investigative journey of near-fatal carriage chases and harrowing, death-defying encounters. Lucifer must contend with all manner of sundry folk and hired help, opium dens, volcanoes, and pleasure domes, all while courting the lovely Bella Pok. And let no one (man or woman), however delectable, stand in his way. There is no task too difficult, no road too winding, no mountain too high, and no partner too unwilling to prevent Lucifer from discovering the horrific truths behind the mysterious Vesuvius Club and the vengeful motivations of a very injured and abandoned human being.

Imagine Artemis Fowl without magic, fairies, trolls and the usual fantastic iterations. Let him simmer until he grows very much into an adult. He remains egotistical and enjoys the finer things in life--no discretions made. Mix in a little of the mysteriousness of James Bond and detective work of Sherlock Holmes and this modest concoction reveals itself in Mark Gatiss's magnificently pleasant and serpentine plot of murder, revenge, sex, and scandal.

Mark Gatiss spins a delightfully refreshing mystery with witty prose, engaging characters, fantastic names, and a playful atmosphere. Lucifer's world is an indulgent one with plush velvets, immaculately tailored garments, fine cigarettes, and devilish secrets. The Vesuvius Club is hilarious and horrific--a fantastic blend of the elements that make for an engrossing and thrilling read full of surprises that kept me reading well into the night. At 240 pages the only crime Gatiss commits is leaving us with such a short installment of Lucifer's witty and instructive inner dialogue. The good news? There's already a second Lucifer Box novel available to whet one's appetite until the third installment arrives later this month.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fluff that dreams are made of. July 27 2007
By I. Sondel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you read my recent review of "The Devil in Amber," than you already know I'm a huge fan of Mark Gatiss and Lucifer Box. I'll not bother you with another tired synopsis (other's have already done that). I'll just say "The Vesuvius Club" is more then simply amusing and diverting, it's clever, titilating and wicked good fun from start to finish. I love Lucifer Box (and Charlie Jackpot for that matter) and look forward to reading more of his adventures.

RE: the graphic novel. I enjoyed the iluustrations by Ian Bass, but the story has been abridged - so, I recommend the original.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best I've Read in Ages! Oct. 18 2005
By Lenore - Published on Amazon.com
Since the plot has been sufficiently covered, I'll just say that I picked this book up on a whim and I'm so utterly glad I did. I believe one of the reviews said it best in that one *despairs* when they see the pages disappearing behind them. Fantastically likeable protaginist, deliciously melodramtic plot, and a extrodinarily satisfying sending up of the Bond Girl. I've finished it but I can't bring myself to put it back on the shelf, so it's also proving itself to be quite re-readable. Honestly one of the most enjoyable books I've read in ages.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not to Everybody's Taste - But I Thought It Was a Hoot! Feb. 12 2013
By Happy Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
You know this is going to be a saucy book from the very first line: "I have always been an appalling judge of character. It is my most beguiling virtue."

It's the early 1900's, and the speaker is Lucifer Box, an Englishman serving in His Majesty's Secret Service, HM being Queen Victoria's successor, Edward VII, previously known as Bertie. Box lives at No, 9 Downing Street, telling us, "I know, ostentatious, isn't it? But somebody has to live there."

Though serious about his work, which includes an "artistic license to kill", Lucifer Box is a hedonist, not to mention bi-sexual, and nominally makes his living painting portraits for the not-quite-upper-crust.

The real upper-crusters go to his best friend, Christopher Miracle, to have their portraits done. Being rich and popular, however, is of no help to Miracle when one of his students, Mrs. Midsomer Knight, turns up drowned in the River Thames, and Miracle is arrested for it.

A loyal friend, Lucifer works to absolve Miracle, fitting his efforts into his new secret service assignment. Two important geology professors have died mysteriously in Naples, Italy, and HM's agent in Naples, Jocelyn Poop, has disappeared. Lucifer travel to Naples, meeting Poop's 2nd in command, Cretaceous Unmann, and eventually discovers that the two mysteries are entwined.

Just from the names of the characters, you can tell that "The Vesuvius Club" is a romp. There is some clever writing and lots of humor, not to mention a positively gothic potboiler plot. Such as men turned into superhuman zombies by the installation of metal helmets feeding drugs into their brains: "With their curious, sluggish movements, the helmeted fiends began to fire back at us."

It is also Raunchy, and that will not be to everybody's taste. Actually, it's usually not to my taste, but in this case, the raunchiness is not accompanied by gross language. Mildly described sex accompanied by loads of humor is a hoot.

"The Vesuvius Club" is a quick read. After I picked it up in the Mystery section of a book sale, I found out it has a gay cult following. You don't have to be gay to enjoy it (I'm proof of that) - but you do have to have an open mind.

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