Amazon now has a listing for the next novel in Mark Gatiss' fantastic Lucifer Box series... and it's not called Clawhammer, as previously rumored. The new title (following The Vesuvius Club and Devil In Amber) is Black Butterfly, and Amazon lists a release date of November 3, 2008. Interestingly, that's the same date listed at Amazon.co.uk. Usually there is a delay between the British and American publications of the Box books, so the American Amazon listing may be in error. (But maybe not!) The UK listing also provides a handy plot description:
With the young Queen Elizabeth newly established on her throne, Lucifer Box Esq is now by Appointment to Her Majesty. But the secretive Royal Academy seems a very different place and, approaching retirement, Box decides to investigate one last case...A series of bizarre accidents has claimed the lives of some of the world's most important people. Lucifer Box discovers that they were all members of the mysterious Widows' Circle, headed by the delectable Melissa Ffawthawe. He soon finds himself in the Transylvanian forests on the trail of boy assassin Kingdom Come and his deadly masters in the Anarcho-Criminal Retinue of Nihilists, Incendiarists and Murderers - A.C.R.O.N.I.M! What is the mysterious Black Butterfly? Who is Gottfried Clawhammer? Why is the world's biggest scout jamboree taking place on a fortified island in the Caribbean? All will be revealed as Lucifer Box takes his artistic licence to kill into the sleek, bleak era of the Cold War...This is all in keeping what what Gatiss had previously said about the series. After debuting his dashing young hero in a Conan Doyle-inspired Edwardian adventure, he next dropped in on Box in the throes of middle-age, caught up in a 1930s caper channeling John Buchan and Dennis Wheatley. His plan, he revealed in interviews around the publication of The Vesuvius Club, was to follow that up with an Ian Flemingish yarn set in the early days of the Cold War, and it sounds like that's exactly what he's done. Gatiss himself gives some more details in an interview with The Guardian last year (when the working title of the third book was still Clawhammer):
For Clawhammer, he plans to immerse himself in early Ian Fleming - and more. 'I think it would be fun to move it into that Sovietish world of spies. I love all that, all those Le Carre and Fifties and Sixties films. The Harry Palmer films, they're great, even though they were meant to be the antidote to Bond. I love the sort of wet-newspaper, going-down-the-shops kind of feel to it. And although obviously you don't want to lose the fun, I think it would be quite nice to have an Edwardian in the Fifties, in Austerity Britain.'That final comment clearly recalls Adam Adamant Lives! a bit, which transplants an Edwardian adventurer into the next decade, the Swinging Sixties. Gatiss is a rabid Adamant fan, as attested to by his appearances all over the special features for the excellent DVD of the series. Having thoroughly enjoyed Gatiss' first two Lucifer Box novels (especially Devil In Amber!), I can't wait to see what he's cooked up for this one, which evidently parodies/homages literary sources even dearer to my heart than those previously done!