I selected Vesuvius Club as my next read based on the recommendation that readers who like P. G. Wodehouse (an author I absolutely adore) would enjoy this novel by Mark Gatiss. The recommendation promised a whimsical spy novel with dry wit.
While settings in P. G. Wodehouse’s make-believe British universe remain chaste and refined, Mark Gatiss delights in the crass and grotesque. Vesuvius Club wastes no time in setting the stage for hero Lucifer Box. Painter by day and British secret agent by night (and day if needed). Killing mercilessly and belittling danger is a common occurrence for this self-absorbed hero. Half way through the proceedings I realized I have no sympathies for the hero and am not rooting for his success. What a shame!
Anyway, the first half of the book will have you laughing for sure. Mark Gatiss has an exquisite imagination. He places his hero at 9 Downing Street (Ostentatious, but someone has to live there, to quote the pompous hero himself). There is the semblance of an intriguing plot early on and some well laid out red herrings pop up to spice the proceedings. Lucifer Box has been tasked to track down a group of influential friends. Those not dead are in danger. No one knows why except that national security is at stake.
In true debonair James Bond vain Lucifer has had his share of past seductions which in old England lead to disgruntled fathers. There is a beautiful girl who has caught his fancy and who is also taken in by him. There is a dashing friend and fellow artist arrested for murder. Is he iramed or the real culprit?
Volcanoes, evil super villains, chases in horse-drawn carriages, night clubs and narrow escapes. The Vesuvius Club has it all. The 2nd half of the story really forces you to stretch your imagination, raise an eyebrow and decide if you want to enjoy everything atrocious that is happening. You end in a kind of Austen Powers old world universe and if you like that sort of thing then there are more books starring Lucifer Box and a whole lot of other characters with outrageous names in this series.
Read any other good books that P. G. Wodehouse lovers would love? Am looking and longing for recommendations.