The first novel by Mark Gatiss (the tall one from The League of Gentlemen) is a knowing romp through Edwardian political intrigue as secret agent Lucifer Box sets off on the trail of some missing scientists. Box is witty, dashing and decadent, equally at home in seedy backstreet establishments as he is in the ballroom. The plot twists and turns in enjoyably improbable fashion, peppered with doppelgangers, fiendishly complicated inventions and dastardly undertakers.
All the right boxes are ticked but there is something unconvincing about the finished work. I found it impossible to forget that I was reading a clever and amusing novel by the tall one from The League of Gentlemen. It's a little too knowing, a little too on the nose, to be absorbing.
Still, it's pleasant enough if you're looking for something light for the beach.