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Black Butterfly (Lucifer Box #3)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,092 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
With the young Queen Elizabeth newly established on her throne, Lucifer Box Esq. is now 'by Appointment to Her Majesty'. But the secretive Royal Academy seems a very different place and, approaching retirement, Box decides to investigate one last case.
Hardcover, 204 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Simon & Schuster
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May 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 23, 2008 rated it liked it
BLACK BUTTERFLY is the third Secret Service novel featuring tall, dark, suave spy about town Lucifer Box. Although it will come as a bit of a shock to readers of these books to discover that Lucifer has gotten old, fast approaching retirement. Good grief! Old age comes to Lucifer Box ... who would have believed it could ever happen. Worse still, this is billed as the final of the Lucifer Box novels which is particularly sad for those readers who have come to love the overly energetic lovelife, s ...more
Aug 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first Lucifer Box novel was set in the 1890s, the second in the 1920s and now we find him as an old man in the 50s. This of course puts the master spy into James Bond territory, and Gatiss handles this by creating a more mundane world (there is an early dig at “the stuff hammered out on Remingtons by ex-foreign correspondents in seersucker shirts”), but one which is ultimately more fantastical.

This is a witty, ribald and scurrilous book (much like its lead character). Gatiss really crafts an
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
And so the Lucifer Box series draws to an end - well so far, there are plenty of opportunities and gaps to allow for further instalments and adventures to be added in in numerous locations and times.
So does this feel like a fitting end - yes I think it does, not only is it full of action, great cliches and scandalous dialogue - but for me it addresses one question I rarely see, what happens to old spies at the end of their careers. Ok I guess dying in the course of their career is an option but
had me grinning on most pages and left me laughing out loud after i finished, what a worthy end to the trilogy.
and that's all i want to say.
Jasmiina F
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I didn't enjoy this quite as much as the previous books, but this was still quite entertaining.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, this was the end of the Lucifer Box Trilogy and what a fun journey it has been. I've said most what I want to say about the character that is Lucifer Box in my other reviews, but this was a fitting end to a hero of the British Secret Service that certainly needs a wider audience. In fact the ending is a pure treat for those who followed Box on his grandiose adventures.
I know that Mark Gatiss is a big James Bond fan and the nods to 007 are here for all to see, with some a little hidden but
Helen Lobel
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, must-read-2017
I'm a huge fan of Mark Gatiss and adored the rest of this series, but sadly the last one didn't feel the same. The glorious silliness that the others harnessed so well just doesn't work as well next to the grumpy, rather bitter Box of old age. I did think the final chapter made a perfect ending, and I enjoyed the multitude of silly names for background characters (also the description of one person as "unnecessarily ginger" :D ).
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay-historical
I’m leaving Lucifer Box’s second installment (The Devil in Amber) on The List at, but I’m not going to review it, because it’s rather too paranormal. However this is more spy-like with no paranormal aspects, so it fits the bill.

Like The Devil In Amber, this book jumps forward in time, and we meet Lucifer at the end of his career. He’s feeling a bit sorry for himself and mourning his lost youth (and he’s worked his way through quite a few of those in his life, let’s be honest) an
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In The Black Butterfly, Queen Elizabeth II has just come to the throne and Lucifer Box is being shoved off his as he has retirement foisted upon him. In spite of this, he finds himself compelled to investigate when perfectly sensible public figures start dying in reckless accidents. Who is the mysterious Kingdom Kum? And who or what is the Black Butterfly? But someone does not want him to find out.

As each book in this trilogy is set in a different era, Lucifer Box naturally ages as the books pro
Oct 09, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a definite case of judging a book by its cover. The spoof James Bond cover artwork took me back to my early teens, when I devoured as much Ian Fleming as I could get hold of. Knowing Mark Gatiss for his television work, I thought this would be worth reading.

In the early 1950s Lucifer Box is an aging secret agent. Having got to the top of his profession he takes on one final mission. After a Fleming pastiche for the first chapter, the narrative settles into Box's first person voice. Gat
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A both amusing and fitting ending for our friend Lucifer Box. A few decades have transpired since the recounting of Lucifer's last case. So many other cases and incidents are hinted at throughout the course of all three novels, that it feels as though we only ever scratch the surface of the escapades of our protagonist.

Several suspicious deaths of prominent and influential people, and the mysterious involvement of "le papillon noir", or Black Butterfly, leads Lucifer once again into the field. H
Adam Stone
Aug 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Black Butterfly is the third of Mark Gattis' Lucifer Box series of novels, and this one is very much a pastiche of the Ian Fleming series of James Bond novels, right from the cover, to the ridiculous nature of the plot, and to some of the character names my favourite of which is Whitley Bey a Geordie Turk and the CIA agent Kingdom Kum.

This was good for me as I have been reading those book fairly recently and it was a lot of fun reading this book and spotting the references and allusions, and it
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, humour
I have to confess (to my eternal shame) that I hadn't come across Lucifer Box before, but I was lucky enough to find a signed copy of Black Butterfly in a local charity shop. I think Mark Gatiss is great and I'm a big fan of his tv writing, not to mention the book ticks a goodly number of my squee list (humour, bisexual heros, glamourous James Bond types), but (and you knew there'd be a but coming, eh?) this left me strangly cold. It was as if it was trying too hard to be arch and knowing, but c ...more
Nov 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
What a lush I am. I've been waiting and waiting for this, the third Lucifer Box book by the embarrassingly talented Mark Gatiss, and wouldn't you know that instead of savoring it, I guzzled it down like a gin soaked rummy. Oh, well, as was the case with The Vesuvius Club and The Devil in Amber, I'll just have to read this again (and again).
I want to write more. However, I don't want to spoil a single surprise or revelation. Lucifer Box is indeed back; older and wiser, and yet as randy as ever.
Micha Meinderts
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I actually rather liked this one. Perhaps because Lucifer wasn't so insufferable as in the previous ones, because his "weakness" seemed genuine instead of forced to give him some character flaws. He's struggling with being a has-been from yesterday, with age and getting "ugly", and though not entirely subtle it was done well and honestly.

The story was as far-fetched as the others, larger than life, but it bothered me less, and the language seemed to have cleaned up a bit compared to the previous
Stephanie Jane
I registered a book at!

Good but not great. Black Butterfly is the third of the Lucifer Box spy trilogy and now our ageing hero is in the time of the new Queen Elizabeth. Unfortunately I think it is the time period, or lack of it, which lets Black Butterfly down. Gatiss still invents a wonderfully implausible plot, ridiculously named characters and splendid escapades. However, what made Vesuvius Club such a great read for me was its ste
Kris McCracken
Nov 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Finishing the set, we shoot forward another twenty-or-so years into a Cold War world very different from the earlier two stories. Perhaps this shift explains why Black Butterfly is the most Bond-like of all the novels.

Lucifer has now risen to the top of the ranks of the Secret Service, and is not shy off being retired. Of course, there remains one last adventure to be had. As expected, there is a sense of mortality that hangs over this one like a black cloud, but that does not stop our hero gett
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery, humour
Lucifer Box. He's a joy, really. A hilarious, naughty, action-packed joy. I read The Vesuvius Club and The Devil in Amber years ago and loved them, so it was a pretty safe bet I would love Black Butterfly as well. Which I did.

The plot can be as convoluted and ridiculous as it likes, so long as I have the pun-tastic wit of Lucifer Box running throughout.

This book is purely for fun, and it delivers in huge doses. Sniggers, chortles, smiles and shoulder-shaking laughter. It managed to illicit them
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, read-2015
The third and last of the Lucifer Box novels. By now, Queen Elizabeth has succeeded to the throne and our dashing hero has gotten old. Before retirement, however, one last case awaits the aging agent: a string of deaths under suspicious circumstances, including that of Lucifer's old friend Christopher Miracle, and the mysterious phrase "Black Butterfly" lead him to Turkey and Jamaica, encounters with a number of questionable characters and more action and near death experiences than anyone of su ...more
Dec 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
A big part of the appeal to me of "The Vesuvius Club," the first Lucifer Box novel, was its unexpectedly cheeky cloak and dagger tone. Box was an utterly scandalous "hero" and the twists and turns of the story were like a roller coaster. Unfortunately, that sense of freshness simply could not be carried over into the subsequent books.

That said, "Black Butterfly" is a much more enjoyable read than the second book of the series. Lucifer Box, now at retirement age, demonstrates that while he may n
I really enjoyed this one. It was so utterly ridiculous and I can't quite believe how much I've come to like this character whom I loathed in the first instalment. He's still insufferably smug in this, but time has mellowed him out somewhat and the humour is more self-deprecating, making him rather endearing (which he would probably hate). Also, there were characters like Kingdom Kum, not to mention names like Kingdom Kum, who entertained me to no end. There was the cheeky ending too, not to men ...more
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery, humour
I can't quite put my finger on the reason I didn't love this as much as the other Lucifer Box books. Perhaps it's the quite large time shift between instalments, or just the idea that the series has apparently come to an end. In theory, I like the idea of having this large time shifts, but it does seem to make you want more, especially when Box himself offers up a great number of cryptic asides that beg to have the full story told. The other drawback that is that few characters make it from book ...more
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Never heard of this character but being a Dr Who fan and a peruser of other geekdom I knew who Mark Gatiss was, so why not give it a go?
Lucifer Box is the Bond of the past. This novel is set when he is an older gent and Elizabeth the Second has just become Queen. Box is a bon vivant, a womaniser and also has a fondness for young men. The stories are written tongue in cheek and both the villains and the action are over the top.
This said the novel is an easy read and good fun. This appears to be
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Charming enough, I suppose, though I don't read very much in the spy / mystery / thriller orbits. It was romp-y. The characters are thin, the wordplay rarely that clever. The situations are interesting, & of course I will admit a weakness for reading about Lucifer Box's gleeful pansexuality.

It's the little gaffes, though, like describing the lettering in Hagia Sophia as 'Cyrillic', that really ruin books like this for me. Of course it doesn't matter; neither does a dog turd in a tulip bed.

The third (and apparently final) Lucifer Box novel moves the action up to the early 1950s, and lands firmly in Bond territory this time. From the opening sequence through the new breed of agents to the innuendo-ish close, this is definitely reminiscent of Bond. Lots of fun - I did love the various references to the now much older Lucifer not being sure whether it was him or something else that was creaking. But Mr Box is quite clearly still attractive to (and attracted by) several conquests, alt ...more
Louis Strong
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy
A fitting conclusion to a wonderful trilogy.
The elderly Artist cum secret agent has to get to the bottom of a series of high profile suicides.
It (like it's two predecessors) was a joy to read, so much so that I may track down Mark Gatiss' Dr Who novels or maybe even his television scripts. The three books see Lucifer Box at three different stages of his life so but this book you feel as if you have known him for years.

My one problem is that Lucifer occasionally recounts previous unwritten adv
Oct 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Read this over several days so it somewhat broke the flow of the story for me (which is obviously my fault, I should have just hunkered down and read it all in one go).

Not sure if I enjoyed it as much as the first two, but it was still far greater than a lot of books out there.

I don't know if we are going to be meeting Lucifer Box again (he is getting on in age) but I wouldn't mind another visit from him. Perhaps in the swinging sixties, next time round?
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spy-novels
A fitting retirement both for Lucifer Box and for the series. Expect the same wild adventures as before, but with a much creakier cad at the helm.

I think it is the little details Gatiss adds that makes his books so worthwhile. There are no background people without a bit of character, no scenes without a touch of personality. I enjoy his writing that much more because it's easier to picture; he isn't overly verbose, but chooses the right words to flesh things out perfectly.
Nov 22, 2011 rated it liked it
The weakest of the trilogy. The main problem is the central character is now too old to indulge in the derring do exploits of the earlier novels. Which is kind of a nice idea but leads to lots of padding. The author had to find quite a contrived way to get the action going and it didn't really work. Told in the style of Fleming's Bond (books rather than films) with a dash of Graham Greene and a nod to Austin Powers.
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Mark Gatiss (born 17 October 1966) is an English actor, screenwriter and novelist. He is best known as a member of the comedy team The League of Gentlemen, and has both written for and acted in the TV series Doctor Who and Sherlock.

Fulfilling a lifelong dream, Gatiss has written three episodes for the 2005-revived BBC television series Doctor Who. His first, "The Unquiet Dead", aired on 9 April 20
More about Mark Gatiss...

Other Books in the Series

Lucifer Box (3 books)
  • The Vesuvius Club (Lucifer Box, #1)
  • The Devil in Amber (Lucifer Box, #2)

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“If not exactly raging against the dying of the light, I was at least a little cross with it.” 14 likes
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