The Vesuvius Club: A Lucifer Box Novel (Lucifer Box 1) – Mark Gatiss

TVCWe wanted something light-hearted for our Christmas meeting and this book fit the bill for many.

‘I adored it. Laughed out loud on the bus.’

 ‘Satire, a good piss-take.’

Charlie was a lot of fun.

However, some thought it was unbelievable, too many ridiculous coincidences.

The again, it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. But was just a bit of fun.

One member said: I’ve been trying to work out why I slung it across the bed in desperation after trying several times to get into it without luck. There is a Radio 4 comedy series which is a spoof of Dickens and I think this very much reminds me of this but the radio spoof is fast and it doesn’t let you stop; you are dragged along and it kind of works. But in this case it’s as if the gags and puns are getting in the way of both the comedy and the story, so I just gave up. Also, there were many echoes for me of what Mark Gatiss then went on to write for Dr Who and Sherlock (?) which was much better.

Another: this is not my kind of book. It’s reminiscent of Percy Wooster and Jeeves with words like ‘togs’ for clothes. One of the few positive things I can say is that I liked the art nouveau cover and illustrations.

 The book perked up once we got on to the Vesuvious Club itself.

Like all stories like this, someone sacrifices his life for others.

I had to look up kir = a popular French cocktail made with a measure of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) topped up with white wine.

 Quotes

Clearly I would have to retake Advanced Breaking and Entering.

I glanced at my watch on the dresser. My appointment was for eleven. I had only two hours to dress!

She’s a curiosity that one. Name of Mrs. Knight. Mrs Midsomer Knight’

Miracle’s gorgeous Belgravia house had been the scene of my poking of Avril Pugg the previous December. Christmas is a time for giving, after all.

I spent much of the late afternoon selecting a flower for my lapel.

Now I have always wondered how one gets into undertaking as profession. Who, other than chaps who get some sort of morbid thrill from it, would want to do such a thing? Like choirmasters and their desire to improve young boys, one always suspects a sin­ster motive.

I sat on a creaking air, also in the buff, relishing the gorgeous glow of the fire as I contemplated this most recent act of naughtiness. You are shocked, are you not? Or, per­haps, reading this in some distant and unimaginably utopian future like that funny little man Mr Wells would have us believe in, you are not shocked at all! Fact is, Lucky Lucifer here has still more secrets. My arsenal is for­midable — a sentence which comes across more interestingly in a French accent. As you know, there is no service I am unprepared to render for King and country, and I am not averse to a pretty face and a pretty rump, whether they be man’s or woman’s (I draw the line at beasts, unlike at least one member of the Cabinet). It is the prerogative of the secret agent to be (and to have!) whatever he fancies, don’t you agree? This is not a privilege extended to the population at large, as I found when I was discovered in a house off the Bow Road — the incident that brought me to the attention of Joshua Reynolds. The old dear helped extricate me from that spot of bother but saw it as a very useful way of getting me on to his payroll. In the yellow-backed novels it is known as blackmail. You must remember that London was in a bit of a panic, with the recent exigencies of Mr O.F.O’F.W. Wilde so fresh in the memory, and J.R. had me by the unmentionables. The compensation was that my divers assassinations took me all over the globe where the love that dared not speak its name was in no great hurry to do two years’ hard labour just for a frolic with some dolly renter.

I am Ricardo,’ he mumbled.

‘And I’m . . I threw him a pitying look. `-I’m afraid you’re ter­ribly ugly.’

‘Bugger,’ I said eloquently.

Venus was untying her hair so that it fell in heavy, auburn loops about her neck. With a jerk of her hand, the hair flopped to the floor. A wig She stared at me, grinning wildly, her dark, dark eyes I ablaze with triumph, then hoisted up her crimson skirts, exposing bare, muscular legs and what we doctors call a cock and bails. `Christ Almighty!’ was all I had to say. `Venus!’ gasped Charlie. ‘You’re a boy!’

I was dragged back (which is better than being dragged up, like mein host).

`Oh fuck’ was all I could manage. So much for last words. `

Grabbing the belt, I dragged him over owards the sphere and then planted the knife into his chest as though staking a vampire.

That was the end of him. Sometimes one must be direct.

And what does that make you! The feted artist, the dashing dandy. But by night philanderer, sodomite and assassin!’

As a thumbnail-sketch of me that wasn’t half bad.

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