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The Vesuvius Club

(Lucifer Box #1)

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  5,021 ratings  ·  528 reviews
Meet Lucifer Box: Lucifer has a charming countenance and rapier wit that make him the guest all hostesses must have. And most do. But few of his conquests know that Lucifer is also His Majesty's most daring secret agent, at home in both London's Imperial grandeur and in its underworld of despicable vice.

So when Britain's most prominent scientists begin turning up dead, th
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 4th 2005 by Simon & Schuster Ltd (first published November 1st 2004)
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3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,021 ratings  ·  528 reviews

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Sean Gibson
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Alternate title: Sherlock Powers: Sexual Omnivore

Those familiar with the always delightful Gatiss from his extraordinarily wonderful work as co-creator/producer of the BBC’s Sherlock will undoubtedly be enticed by the prospect of his frolicking with a turn-of-the-twentieth-century detective who’s part Holmes, part Bond, and all cheek (in more ways than one). What begins as a sharp take on the pretty well-trod grounds of Holmesian pastiche (replete with modern sensibilities and repartee) devolves
mark monday
I guess I enjoyed this well enough. a swiftly paced romp through Edwardian England and Naples ("Edwardian Naples" just doesn't sound right) featuring Her Majesty's Special Assassin - the snobby and callous Lucifer Box. many things are afoot and those things include murder, a sex club, a rather insensitively handled trans character, some painting, some servant troubles, and a nefarious plot to destroy all of Italy. plus (view spoiler) ...more
The author himself states that The Vesuvius Club is nothing more than a bit of fluff, and in many ways he's right. The characterisation could never be referred to as three-dimensional, the events are cartoonish, and the pacing is off-kilter. That said, I still enjoyed this immensely. It's as if you were to take Oscar Wilde, Ian Fleming, the better elements of the Austin Power movies, and The League of Gentlemen, combine them all together in an Edwardian London setting, with a plot so absurd you ...more
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Detective-fiction fans and general goofballs
Shelves: fiction
"I made my way softly down the steps to the door. It bore no knocker, nor number of any kind. I had raised my hand when it groaned open, seemingly of its own accord. Shudder not, reader, this is not a spook story! Whatever agency lay behind that door was most assuredly human.

Actually I must immediately qualify that remark, as what lay behind the door appeared to be a monkey."

Lucifer Box, "the feted artist, the dashing dandy ... but by night -- philanderer, sodomite, and assassin!" is quite simpl
Why have I not read this before? I've no idea, but consider me duly admonished. Because it's magnificent. I took two days off the rest of the world, stocked up on Jaffa cakes, and didn't put the thing down.

The plot and the execution are gorgeous, a little bit ostentatious and entirely frivolous, so I think I might save the second one for an end of term train ride home - it strikes me as exactly the sort of thing I might need at the end of a term reading law textbooks. The characters are a bit tw
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
To be honest, I can't believe this came from Mr Gatiss. I notice that I highlighted several witty comments through the book but on the whole, it grated.

The main character has nothing in him which I can admire and demonstrates nothing but narcissistic qualities throughout.

Can't see I'll be picking up any more in the series...
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
May 14, 2019 marked it as dnf-shelf-of-shame  ·  review of another edition
DNF @ 10%
Not hooking me at all. The main character seems distasteful. But since that seems to be the idea of the book, I think it's safe to say there's nothing wrong with it and it's just not for me.
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
totally random bookswap score. I really love cracking a book that I know absolutely nothing about!


So fun! So British! So snarky! I guess this is kind of like James Bondish? It's about one of those dapper young playboys who leads a decadent artist's life by day and like works for the CIA by night. It's all old-timey and very, very British. Kind of like Johannes Cabal the Necromancer , except less noir and more caper. It's fluffy and fun, nothing too substantial. I should have saved it for the
I had pretty high hopes for this book because the synopsis makes it sound like everything you could ever ask for in a novel...espionage, intrigue, secret societies bent on world domination, a roguish anti-hero. Unfortunately, I couldn't even make it all the way through. It just got too ridiculous, and the plot was so simplistic it was like watching a cartoon. Another peeve of mine is that it was written in the first person with the main character Lucifer narrating, and he got on my nerves SO MUC ...more
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
I first read The Vesuvius Club seven years ago and it is still my favourite steampunk novel. Our hero, Lucifer Box, is wonderfully decadent and louche, his adventures as bizarre as the improbable names of his supporting cast. Allegedly set in early twentieth century London and Naples, I know other readers have criticised the writing for historical inaccuracies, but I think they've missed the point. The Vesuvius Club isn't a extensively researched historical novel, it's a fun, dark, fantasy sci-f ...more
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed this first part of the Lucifer Box trilogy. Some parts had me literally laughing out loud. The humour is delightful, the characters and places unforgettable. The descriptions are so vivid (and not exhaustive or prescriptive) your senses are invoked to be there as a bystander.

A good old romp, with a bit of suspense and a lot of wit :-)
Maya Panika
Nov 25, 2008 rated it liked it
This is a very funny book. Laugh out loud Funny as a matter of fact, and I did, on average, about thirteen times an hour.

There’s a distinct, 60’s feel to it all; something to do with the cleverly-copied Aubrey Beardsley, Yellow Book look of the thing and the outrageousness of the rather-hard-to-follow plot. If this book were a film it would look like The Wrong Box or Casino Royale (the Peter Sellers movie, not the latest, hard-core version, obviously) and Peter Cook would be playing Lucifer Box.
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Mark Gatiss, creator of the wonderful BBC update of the Holmes stories, Sherlock, is also the creator of the Holmes/Bond pastiche that is Lucifer Box.

The premise is delightful - Edwardian gentleman, portraitist, dandy, wit, rake and His Majesty's most dashing secret agent is a series of humourous crime solving adventures - and yet the resulting first novel leaves me flat.

I do not recall laughing once, I barely raised a glimmer of a smile infact. There may once have been a time when this would ha
Jul 27, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Book Review: Mark Gatiss - The Vesuvius Club (Simon & Schuster, London, 2005)

If you live in the UK then the chances are that you're familiar with, or have at least heard of, the work of Mark Gatiss. He is an accomplished writer and actor for the stage and television and a look at his IMDB page will porbably make you say 'oh yeah, I remember that!' In the last couple of years he has written for and appeared in the new incarnation of Doctor Who, as well as last years romcom Starter for Ten. He
Nov 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, humor, mystery
Clever., definitely, too clever by far. There are some amusing bits here, however, and I did finish the book simply because I wanted to figure out if it really all comes together at the end. It does.

We meet Lucifer Box (prepare for Puns Ahead), secret agent to His Majesty's Government (HMG) in Edwardian England. Once the time period is established, it makes much more sense; I kept thinking it was Victorian London, but it's later.

Lucifer's cover is painting portraits, and it is doing
THE VESUVIUS CLUB (Satirical Mystery-Edwardian England/Italy-early 1900s) – G+
Gatiss, Mark – Standalone
Simon & Schuster, 2004- UK Hardcover
Lucifer Box is an elegant, bi-sexual rake and a secret service agent who lives at Number Nine Downing Street. When two leading scientists are murdered it’s up to Lucifer to find who and why. His investigation takes him to Naples. With a beautiful woman on his arm and a young lover, Charlie, who introduces him to the debauched delights of the Vesuvius Club
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Well, what can I say? It was fantastically funny, completely unbelievable and rather splendid from beginning to end. I devoured it in one sitting, which I rarely allow myself to do, but it was certainly worth it. The characters were witty and well portrayed, I adored Lucifer and Charlie as I thought I would, and the rest of the cast was simply wonderful. I can't not mention the several giggle-fits I had while reading, I never thought I'd find something quite so blatantly steamy in the midst of a ...more
Brooklyn Tayla
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: june-reads-2016
Well that pulled me out of my mini slump. Mark Gatiss never disappoints.
Tony Go
Dec 29, 2009 is currently reading it
"We only get so many days."

"What a mantra", Tony thought. It was vague enough to apply to so many things. Its frame for time appearing, at first, grim for the thought of death. Yet optimism could break through; through brevity, through apathy. If we only get so many days, why not make each one great? Just as easily, if we only get so many days, why bother doing anything at all?

And just like that, Tony had one less.

From that day forward Tony programmed his robot, HS-11, to record all the things h
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Just finished “The Vesuvius Club” by Mark Gatiss last night. It was recommended to me by a good friend. I have to say I’m going to listen to her recommendations more often. “The Vesuvius Club” is one of the best books I have read in ages.

“The Vesuvius Club” is the first book in the Lucifer Box trilogy.

The book itself is hard to describe. It is a thriller. It is a spy novel. It is an historical novel. It is a boy’s own ripper of an adventure yarn. It is deliciously wicked and the hero, Lucifer Bo
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I am very much a fan of Gatiss' writing for TV, such as Sherlock and Doctor Who, so I knew I would enjoy his debut novel when I stumbled upon it in a second hand bookshop.

Lucifer Box is and Edwardian artist who lives in Downing Street and has a rapier wit that makes him the lift and soul of the party. He is also a secret agent for the country and here is called to action when some prominent scientists start to be found dead. Who is behind this and why? What is VC? Only a trip to Naples will sol
Jan 05, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a very tricky book to categorise - Mark Gatiss is an actor and a writer and so has an amazing grasp of timing and description however at times he seems to have to labour the point about the main character (and many of the larger supporting ones too) about their traits and flaws as if their names and actions didn't say enough - its almost as if they turn the imaginary camera and say ... yes I am that bad!
Don't get me wrong it lends a certain air to the story a mix of drama and suspense w
Lucifer Box is an over-the-top self-involved drama queen who is just as likely to kill an assassin at the behest of the British government as he is to get himself into some kind of sex-fueled trouble. This book has a lot of things I like: spies, drama, international travel, humor, ridiculous schemes -- and yet it falls completely flat. Lucifer is so stuck up it is truly a wonder he doesn't die from sheer inability to see the world around him as anything other than a machine for worshipping him. ...more
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
I felt the book started off with lots of promise, unfortunately it rapidly started to feel like a 'Carry On' film (i.e. lots of trite and obvious jokes). I stopped reading after 40 pages. Thank goodness I just borrowed the book from my house-mate. Credit to the author for his use of interesting vocabulary, and Edwardian/Victorian slang.
Kristie Schmidt
SO much fun. Written by one of the Sherlock showrunners years ago, the one who plays his brother, this has all the cleverness of Sherlock Holmes, fun of James Bond and just general cheekiness. The updated sexuality adds another layer of fun. Did I mention fun?
Angie Rhodes
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Lucifer Box, now there's a name to make you sit up and take note, tall. slim, long black hair, eyes of blue, beautiful slender hands,(he says this himself) and someone you do not want to cross.
Think Sherlock meets Tom Hiddleston(with black hair) and you have the dynamic Lucifer, sigh..He is a secret agent of type, but also an artist, a portrait artist.
This is the first in a trilogy of books by Mark Gatiss, (League of Gentlemen, Dr. Who) in which Lucifer, through no fault of his own, I might
Blake Fraina
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Naughty, bawdy, silly, witty, over-the-top.

Just a few ways to describe Mark Gatiss’s rollicking caper - which I enjoyed enormously.

Sure, it can be described as Sherlock Holmes meets James Bond (if they’d been brave enough to cast the estimable, dishy Rupert Everett in the role), but it seems to share more DNA with a lesser known British export, The Assassination Bureau, a film starring Oliver Reed and Diana Rigg. Like The Vesuvius Club it’s an anachronistic mash-up of Edwardian starch, wild esp
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia, spy-novels
Vesuvius Club presents us with a much younger Box than The Devil in Amber did; Lucifer here is not at the very beginning of his career (he already has quite a reputation, it seems, for both spy-work and bed-work) but he is still young and if possible even more egotistical. Of course here he almost deserves to be egotistical -- he's at the top of his game.

His game this time involves the murder of a fellow spy / diplomat in Naples and the mysterious but seemingly natural deaths of two scientists w
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a really enjoyable mystery.The protagonist, Lucifer Box, is a strange hybrid of Oscar Wilde, Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. Lucifer works for His Majesty's Govt. and is tasked with finding out what happened to a British diplomat,Poop, found murdered in Naples and the possible connection to the sudden death of two geologists.Just as Box is preparing to set sail for Italy, his best friend and fellow painter, Christopher Miracle, is charged with the murder of one of his art students, Mrs ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Lucifer Box (3 books)
  • The Devil in Amber (Lucifer Box, #2)
  • Black Butterfly (Lucifer Box, #3)
“One man's fish is another man's poisson.” 62 likes
“Well, what was I to do? For the well-bred gentleman there was clearly only one recourse. I fucked him.” 36 likes
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