Thursday 7 July 2011

Read in 2011 - 16: The Vesuvius Club

A book like no other I have read so far, although it heavily lends on a lot of popular literature and films: The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss.

It is one more from the treasure chest of books I received earlier this year from a friend, mentioned here before.
Until I did a little bit of research on it this morning, I had no idea that "The Vesuvius Club" is the first part of a trilogy, all starring Lucifer Box, dandy, fashionable portrait painter, darling of London's Edwardian society, as much at home at the most prestigious balls and parties as in the Turkish Baths or in the seedier quarters of Naples - and secret agent by appointment to His Majesty.

Lucifer is a character you sometimes want to throttle for his haughty ways, and laugh with for this naughty ways. He does not mind whether his conquests wear skirts or trousers, and is not afraid of jumping down deep dark wells, crossing ancient cemeteries at night or fighting venomous insects by letting his trousers down.

The novel is set in London and Naples in Edwardian times, and with its frequent reference to scientific discoveries, strange new machinery and tricky electric-mechanical devices with polished brass handles, ebony knobs and mahogany panels as well as equipped with some very well-dressed (and sometimes undressed) ladies and gentlemen, it is a veritable Steampunk book.
Action-packed, fast-paced, highly improbable and quite amusing, it is written in a style that befits the hero (who tells the whole story from his own perspective), elegantly and witty - and rather outspoken at times.

Lucifer has to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance and death of some famous scientists, while one of his closest friends is wrongly accused of having murdered one of his female drawing students. At first, the two cases seem to be unconnected, but of course they would not be in the same book if they weren't :-)
How exactly they are connected is not obvious to the reader (at least it wasn't to me) until Lucifer finds out, and there are a few more surprises along the way as to people's identity and sex.

I quite enjoyed this story and wouldn't mind reading the two sequels I found out about this morning.


  1. This is such a succinct and well written review~ another career as a book reviewer in your future?

  2. Julie, thank you for this kind compliment! Well, if anyone out there would like to employ me (part time for a start... he he) as a book reviewer, I think I would not say no :-)

  3. You would make a great book reviewer! You could always send several of your reviews to various newspapers and see if any editors are interested. I tried that once with a humor column and got no-where. Kind of like fishing where you spend all your time watching the bobber float. Bagman wanted you to review his memroirs but Butler and I intercepted the mail.

  4. Intercepting mail? Now, what happened to data protection and privacy rights? Even Bagman has them... I think :-)
    Thank you for thinking my reviews would be fit to be printed in a paper... I never thought about that; there seems to be such an abundance of great writers and reviewers here on blogger that certainly this market is saturated.
    But, who knows, maybe I will indeed give it a try!

  5. New to me too. It sounds like an over the top high spirited kind of book - good holiday reading

  6. I've never heard of this trilogy... it sounds intriguing... btw, I worked at 3 libraries in my lifetime (so far, though not right now!) and think libraries are my favorite spots in the world.

  7. Jenny, it is indeed quite over the top - which makes it all the more entertaining.

    Sonia, until I'd looked it up on the internet, I didn't know the first thing about neither the books nor the author, either. In the UK, he is rather well-known, a friend of mine who lives near Bristol told me.
    My own time of working at the library is long gone; I left there in 1992, but you know: once a librarian, always a librarian :-)