I picked up this book as part of Waterstone's 3 for 2 offer this summer- been stocking up on thrillers and the like to see me through the cold, dark winter months!
Written by League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss, The Vesuvius Club is touted as "Oscar Wilde meets H.P. Lovecraft" with "LOG's penchant for horror". That's the blurb on the back of the book from the Daily Telegraph and it convinced me to buy it. The plot is essentially this- Lucifer Box is an Edwardian portrait painter, dandy and popular society man, a cover for his work as an assassin/agent of His Majesty's Government. When scientists mysteriously die he is sent to investigate. Sounds good so far.
The problems come however in the fact that there are no horror elements (save for a disfigured face and opium controlled "zombies"- neither of which spark any horror) and there is completely and utterly no connection whatsoever with anything even remotely Lovecraft-esque. At all. None. Whoever wrote that at the Telegraph seems never to have come within ten feet of a Lovecraft story.
Anyway, barring my disappointment that the book was not at all what it's being sold as, I came away feeling somewhat let down by the whole escapade. The story is divided into two sections, the first taking part in London and it was this bit of the book that I enjoyed most. It felt here as if there was a puzzle to be solved, as Box sleuths his way around the mystery, and I felt that it was particularly engaging. The second half falters badly and I lost interest. The actions scenes were poorly done and the sense of a puzzle to be solved was lost as Box's character was moved from spot to spot- it felt as if time was running out for the writer and he was rushing to get the story over and done with. The feeling of intrigue evaporated completely and the sense that Box was dealing with a serious threat never really materialises until the last few pages when he learns the secrets of the plot. It seemed to me that in the latter section the author Gatiss was more concerned with Box's relationship with his rent boy valet than with the actual details of the plot. In the end, all that's delivered is a mildly amusing half a good book. It's billed as "A Lucifer Box novel" as if this is the beginning of a series- on the basis of this reading I'm not at all sure if I'll bother to buy volume 2.