(Note Mark Gatiss is the author, Ian Bass is the illustrator)
This is definitely a Flemingesque book. Ok, with a touch of Arthur Conan-Doyle. You can see it with the evil villain’s lair. You can see with Miss Pok, ‘Bond girl’ with the punning name. However this super-spy is to be found in Edwardian England. Yes, he’s on His Majesty’s Secret Service.
Well I say spy, this chap makes no secret of his secret occupation. Nor, does it seem do any of the other characters.
His eye-catching address is 9 Downing Street. This probably is not the subtlest address in the world and must mean trouble with the neighbours. (Of course if he lived there now he would also be gated in).
The man’s name is Lucifer Box. Friends of his say he has the smile of the devil although he insist that he is more like the namesake before he fell. He even gives himself the more angelic nickname of Gabriel Rachitt.
Although he is a bit more candid than you might expect an Edwardian to be-which the author explains by saying that what Lucifer is writing is reading matter for his own toilet, which may cause its own problems now I think of it-he installs an image of the Boy’s Own or Ripping Yarns type of hero.
Lucifer hangs out at his very own Reform Club, the Pomegranate Rooms leading a very aesthetic life, until a number of scientists; experts in vulcanology, go missing. The volcanic theme not only appears with Vesuvius but also in the character of the fearsome Stromboli.
With the offer to see Naples and hopefully not die, Lucifer must do his damnedest-sorry-to solve the murders and find the ringleader.
A sequel, The Devil in Amber, set in the thirties, has already been published and another follow up is planned.