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by Mark Gatiss
Simon & Schuster, November 2008
224 pages
15.00 GBP
ISBN: 0743257111

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This is the third outing for that aging rogue (or should that, perhaps, be ďrougedĒ?) Lucifer Box. He is, of course, intent on serving the Crown and is full of derring do - even though his most stirring adventures seem to occur when he is asleep. Still, those that attack him whilst he is awake also have merit.

The time is the early fifties. Queen Elizabeth the second is newly ascended to the throne and Lucifer Box in uneasily winding down his official service. He is, after all, by now in his seventies so has surely earned a restful retirement. Or so the uncharitable might think. There is, however, Luciferís son Christmas to be considered. Christmas Box is a scouting enthusiast - the New Scout movement, not the old one founded by Baden Powell. Box Junior is breaking his neck with enthusiasm to participate in the forthcoming International Camp (being unaware of his sireís part in promoting the other kind of international camp.)

The Movementís Honorary Chairman is Lord Battenberg, "famous scientist and adventurer." Mind, there now appears to be a different set of Scouting law (and lore?) for the new breed of boys to follow.

Something horrible has been attacking some very important people known to Box. They have been indulging in some wild high jinks, then dropping dead. Lucifer Box is determined to solve the mystery - but is there a danger that he might join their number?

A new drug, the Black Butterfly, is the direct cause of the wild behaviour of the soon-to-be corpses and it seems that someone would like to see Box high - or brought low. Fortunately, Box encounters one Kingdom Kum, who might help provide a Key - that is, a key - to the conundra.

This is an entertaining romp, if one cares for spoofs on popular spy and thriller literature. Of course, one canít very well expect masterpieces of characterisation any more than logical development, but if one has a weakness for puns and contrived situations, as well as a fondness for exaggerated dangers, Lucifer Box, for all his incipient senescence, is no doubt the man for you. Mind, there is also the reflection on past glories to buttress up any shortcomings in current vitality.

In short, if you, Dear Reader, are not expecting anything too deep, no doubt you will enjoy this passing little tidbit..

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, December 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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