Friday, January 24, 2014

Done: "Devil in Amber" by Mark Gatiss

Done: Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss, 2006, 9780743283960.

This novel did not prove popular at work.  I weeded it a couple years ago and bought it to bring home.

English Super Spy Guy Lucifer Box is getting old.  He has been sleuthing and slaying for years now.  Even though he is in great shape - as he loves to remind us - he is getting old and his superiors and fellow agents are questioning his ability.  His cover as a portraitist is also waning.  His style of painting has been passed by for the modern look.

It's the early '30s (hints were given to date but I cannot recall all the hints to look it up) and he's been sent to NYC to kill a guy.  The guy is a cocaine dealer and, yes, killing a drug in America does seem a bit out of his purview.  No matter because Lucifer is almost killed by the dealer but rescued at the last moment by a much younger fellow agent.

Lucifer bones the elevator boy at his hotel and starts shadowing the leader of fascist American organization.  Lucifer works with a member of the fascist group who dislikes the leader.  Turns out Lucifer's long-estranged sister is the Fascist's secretary.  The turncoat is murdered and Lucifer is set-up for the murder.  Lucifer assumes the dead man's identity to board a cargo ship heading to England.

Other things happen.  Satanism.  Sex with the female cabin boy on the ship.  Lucifer wondering why he has been set-up.  Lucifer arriving in England but fleeing from the cops who want him for the murder.  Lucifer following clues about the cabin girl - serendipity rear your head - who is connected to the Fascist's plans.  Travel to the Swiss-Franco border where Lucifer served in WWI.  Satanist cabal defeated.  So on.  So forth.

1. In retrospect the plot is kind of a mess.  With wild coincidence and satanists and supernatural intervention and shooting and sex and estranged sister and cargo ships and cocaine smuggling and Italian-style fascism.  I did not care.
2.  Why did I not care?  Because Lucifer is an entertaining rogue.  I've never read Flashman but this seems of the same type with adventure and humor and a hero who can be a self-loving blowhard.
3.  Lucifer is a humorous and sort-of-self-deprecating braggart.  He knows bragging is gauche and throws in some humility to make it okay.
3.  This was the second novel in the series after Vesuvius Club (2004) - which I read. There was a third entry, Black Butterfly, in 2008.  Gatiss created the ongoing Sherlock TV series so I suppose he's pretty busy doing that and not writing novels.
4.  Yeah, I had to look up the spelling for gauche.

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