Sexually rapacious Lucifer Box tosses off bon mots while battling fanatical fascists in this 1920s romp.
Because droll narrator Lucifer Box, veteran agent of His Majesty’s Secret Service, has a license to kill, he can shoot a corpulent drug lord called Hubbard the Cupboard. But the hit is marred by a wound administered by Hubbard’s razor and the unexpected arrival of Percy Flarge, Lucifer’s annoying younger rival. When he snatches a silk handkerchief from Hubbard’s pocket to stanch the bleeding, Lucifer little knows how crucially the handkerchief will figure in later developments. After bedding a redheaded bellhop named Rex, Lucifer receives his latest assignment from his colleague Joshua “the dwarf” Reynolds: to monitor the doings of the evil cabal F.A.U.S.T. (The Fascist Anglo-United States Trinity). Led by the thuggishly handsome Olympus Mons, who charismatically advocates the overthrow of democracy, they are known as the “Amber Shirts.” Complicating the assignment is Lucifer’s discovery that his beloved sister Pandora is a devoted Mons acolyte, practically a confidante. Following this duo onto the luxury liner Stiffkey, Lucifer makes gruff Captain Corpusty a quick ally and sexual conquest, another of several for Lucifer along the bumpy way. A train, a monoplane, ghostly apparitions and religious iconography also figure prominently.
An endlessly entertaining follow-up to actor/author Gatiss’s The Vesuvius Club (2005). Punning titles and a sprinkling of pen-and-ink illustrations add appeal.