The Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss

Amazon Synopsis: Lucifer Box - the gorgeous butterfly of King Bertie's reign, portraitist, dandy and terribly good secret agent - is feeling his age. Assigned to observe the activities of fascist leader Olympus Mons and his fanatical Amber Shirts in a snow-bound 1920s New York, Box finds himself framed for a vicious murder. Using all his native cunning, Box escapes aboard a vessel bound for England armed only with a Broadway midget's suitcase and a string of unanswered questions. What lies hidden in the bleak Norfolk convent of St Bede? What is 'the lamb' that Olympus Mons searches for in his bid for world domination? And what has all this to do with a medieval prayer intended to summon the Devil himself? From the glittering sophistication of Art Deco Manhattan to the eerie Norfolk coast and the snow-capped peaks of Switzerland The Devil in Amber takes us on a thrilling ride that pits Lucifer Box against the most lethal adversary of his career : the Prince of Darkness himself.

I read the first book in this trilogy, Vesuvius Club, this summer, a few months before this blog was created. It soon became my 'must rave about to every living creature' book due to its insane anti hero of a protagonist and cryptic yet action packed story. Unfortunately, the second book fell into the trap that so many others have also.

Lucifer Box has aged almost 20 years since the first book and despite not knowing his actual age (the author always alludes to share that piece of information) it is clear that time is catching up to him. Facing being ousted by a younger agent with a bouncy fringe called Flarge, Lucifer Box is now in New York attempting to keep his head above the water. Of course this doesn't stop him from sleeping with everything that moves including some young members of hotel staff. This is where is became clear that as a character Lucifer Box had not changed. He is still witty, energetic and egotistical. In other words he is still an awful person that I cannot help but love. His hilarious comebacks were just what I wanted but had not altered with his age and neither had his attitudes to life, loyalty and love. I would have preferred to have gone back to the Edwardian setting. 

The book takes on a New York gangster feel with the Tommy guns and the parties but Box is still ridiculously English on all counts. When he begins to investigate a death it is soon clear that not all is what it seems. The book takes on a paranormal aspect that you are not sure whether to believe or not when Box finds himself investigating the occult. All the while though he is trying to out do Flarge. The story was as fast paced as last time with the action only stopping literally two pages from the end which kept me reading despite a hectic schedule. I did not feel as connected to this book though. The characters from the last book showed up broken or not at all. One of my favourite characters, Charlie, barely gets a mention throughout the book. New characters, such as Aggie and Volatile, were not as interesting despite having more back stories.

Towards the end of the book though the past comes to haunt Box in a single scene involving an old friend from the first book which, in my opinion, needed to be longer with more of an explanation. For those of you who have read the first book this scene may cause heartache. My reaction at first was "what is he doing here?" followed by a realisation that resulted in a reaction much like the gif posted before. Taking to tumblr after finishing this book I realised the same thing had happened to other readers as well. If you have not read this book though do not put the name into tumblr. It produces more spoilers than thought possible and could ruin it for some people.

Despite being exceptionally written by Gatiss (that man has talent and needs to write more books) with a witty main character, I felt that Box had not developed enough for the time jump that the author instigated. He was still the same man from its predecessor but had been placed in a setting that did not agree with him. I still really enjoyed this book though despite being a little worried about the next book since it jumps another 20 years. 


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