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Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Angelmaker (2012)

by Nick Harkaway

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959549,040 (3.95)81
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» See also 81 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
I usually only mark as to-read books I own, but on seeing that Nick Harkaway has a second novel due out there is absolutely no doubt I'm going to read it. No pressure, but [b:The Gone-Away World|3007704|The Gone Away World|Nick Harkaway|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1328322676s/3007704.jpg|3038235] was not only one of the best debuts I've ever read, but one of my all time favorite books. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 8, 2017 |
Have you ever had so much fun reading a book that you actually talked to it?

Not the book itself (although that's what it looks like to anyone who sees you), but the characters in it and sometimes even the author him- or herself' There's no surer sign that I'm enjoying a book than my refusal to care that I look like a crazy person.

If that level of fun is what you're looking for, take a look at Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker. I won't even attempt a summary. It's impossible and whatever I come up with couldn't possibly show you the sheer mad fun of it all.

So let's start with characters.

Joshua Joseph Spork is the shambling heart of the book. Joe is a nice guy, so intent on doing the right thing and not bothering anybody that he is incapable of figu ut when a girl is flirting with him. Although he has broken with his father's underworld life, he keeps their secrets and remains polite to any of his father's former colleagues he runs into.

Joe's bumbling, Everyman decency is heartening, amusing, and very, very necessary, because there are shadowy forces out there determined to break him, and they do a mighty fine job of it. Our outrage on Joe's behalf keeps this cockamamie story grounded.

Joe is not the only character you'll fall for. Harkaway's cast is quirky and memorable and outrageous. From Joe's felonious pal Billy Friend to mad former monk Ted Sholt to the seemingly immortal evil of Shem Shem Tsien, each character will make an impact on you.

And then there's the women! I swear, I fell in love with every single woman in the book: old Edie, young Edie, Dotty Catty, Cecelia Foalbury, Frankie, Polly Cradle. All of 'em. They're brash and strong and loyal and excellent foils to Joe's placidity.

It's a big, solid book full of crooks and con men, impossibly complicated clockwork devices, a malodorous pug with one tooth and a bad attitude, saucy lady spies, French mathematicians, mad monks, governmental cover-ups, dotty old ladies, serial killers, an Undertaker's Guild, nuns, lawyers, oriental despots, and, at its center, a huge man dedicated to delicate clockworks just trying to do the right thing and honor his grandfather, an unyielding man with a gift for delicate work and a broken heart that never healed, and not become his father, a notorious criminal and lordly Prince of the London underworld.

And if all that isn't enough to convince you to give this a try, then you don't know what you're missing.

(This review was written for RevolutionSF.com: http://www.revolutionsf.com/article.php?id=5432) ( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
woot! This really fun.

It stayed pretty fun, but I hate backstory (especially extended backstory), so that was a bummer. But Harkaway writes well, and I like his point of view. I'm not unhappy I read it. As per usual, my 15 year old thought it rocked -- "Awesome and Horrific. All at the same time." ( )
  mkunruh | Nov 13, 2016 |
Joe Spork tries to live a quiet life repairing clocks, as his grandfather did before him. But then mysterious government agents come looking for a strange clock-book, and Joe becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that could very well end the world, if not the universe.

Starts out very, very slowly, and it was only because I'd loved Harkaway's [b:The Gone-Away World|3007704|The Gone-Away World |Nick Harkaway|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1328322676s/3007704.jpg|3038235] that I trusted the author enough to continue slogging through all the details of Joe's past and present. But it turns out all those painstakingly revealed details are vital to both the plot and to understanding, sympathizing with, and even feeling Joe's emotional journey from quiet citizen to ballsy gangster. The last 20% of this book is about as exciting as a narrative can get and not explode the hearts out of readers' chests. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
But the dead hand of patrimony is about to tap Joe on the shoulder. A commission to repair a rare automaton turns sour when he inadvertently activates a postwar superweapon, throwing him into the path of a 50-year struggle between an ageing female super-spy, an order of craftsman warrior-monks who follow the dictates of John Ruskin and a psychopathic South Asian princeling chasing an army of robot bees. And Harkaway is off, on 500 pages of chases, subterfuges and double-crosses that sometimes resemble Count of Monte Cristo-era Dumas seen through the prism of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. New twists and turns are produced with showmanlike relish: Submarines! Armoured steam trains! Faceless clockwork soldiers! Death-defying escapes from underground laboratories! There’s a girl to get as well, of course — one with a murky past to confront. Will Joe be able to grapple with his father’s legacy and save the world? Wild conceits aside, Harkaway’s story is a joyously old-fashioned one at heart. Of course he will.
added by kitzyl | editThe Telegraph, Tim Martin (Mar 6, 2012)
Nick Harkaway is a hyphen-novelist. A tragical-comical-historical-pastoral novelist, if you like; or – more precisely in the case of this second book – a fantasy-gangster-espionage-romance novelist. The Gone-Away World, Harkaway's well-received debut, was a slightly overfilled post-apocalyptic pick-and-mix of genres. Just as blithe in its disregard of verisimilitude and generic constraint, Angelmaker flits between old-fashioned villains in London's East End and covert action in 1940s south Asia, arranging its whistlestop plot around the modern-day discovery of a weapon of mass destruction in the unlikely form of a skepful of clockwork bees. It's an ambitious, crowded, restless caper, cleverly told and utterly immune to precis.
added by kitzyl | editThe Guardian, James Purdon (Feb 12, 2012)
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The gangster is the man of the city, with the city's language and knowledge, with its queer and dishonest skills and its terrible daring, carrying his life in his hands like a placard, like a club.
--Robert Warshow
For Clare, like everything else.
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At seven fifteen a.m., his bedroom slightly colder than the vacuum of space, Joshua Joseph Spork wears a longish leather coat and a pair of his father's golfing socks.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307595951, Hardcover)

A Wall Street Journal and Booklist Best Mystery of 2012

From the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World, blistering gangster noir meets howling absurdist comedy as the forces of good square off against the forces of evil, and only an unassuming clockwork repairman and an octogenarian former superspy can save the world from total destruction.
Joe Spork spends his days fixing antique clocks. The son of infamous London criminal Mathew “Tommy Gun” Spork, he has turned his back on his family’s mobster history and aims to live a quiet life. That orderly existence is suddenly upended when Joe activates a particularly unusual clockwork mechanism. His client, Edie Banister, is more than the kindly old lady she appears to be—she’s a retired international secret agent. And the device? It’s a 1950s doomsday machine. Having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the British government and a diabolical South Asian dictator who is also Edie’s old arch-nemesis. On the upside, Joe’s got a girl: a bold receptionist named Polly whose smarts, savvy and sex appeal may be just what he needs. With Joe’s once-quiet world suddenly overrun by mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe, he realizes that the only way to survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she abandoned years ago and pick up his father’s old gun . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:30 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Avoiding the lifestyle of his late gangster father by working as a clock repairman, Joe Spork fixes an unusual device that turns out to be a former secret agent's doomsday machine and incurs the wrath of the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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