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Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
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Angelmaker (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Nick Harkaway

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6714414,303 (4.01)59
Member:kjforrest
Title:Angelmaker
Authors:Nick Harkaway
Info:William Heinemann (2012), Hardcover, 576 pages
Collections:Your library, Read in 2013, Book Group
Rating:**
Tags:fiction, science fiction

Work details

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (2012)

  1. 00
    Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold (kitzyl)
    kitzyl: Commonalities include: nostalgia for the golden (criminal/stage magic) days gone by, details of an old and mysterious craft (horology/sleight of hand), flashbacks to character's childhood which explains their nowadays persona, mystery-thriller involving technological machines (truth-automata-bees/television).… (more)
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» See also 59 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Great story and characters. Full of suspense. ( )
  gregandlarry | Nov 28, 2014 |
Really fun -- what to do when you are unexpectedly expected to react with derring do. ( )
  picardyrose | Nov 23, 2014 |
Joshua Joseph Spork, Joe to his friends, is a clockmaker and repairer of automata and is happy to keep a low profile. When your notorious gangster father was known by the nickname of Tommy Gun then being out of the limelight is something he's more than happy to be. Unfortunately for Joe, this state of affairs isn't going to last. It starts with a favour for a friend. Billy Friend wants Joe to take a look at an item for one of his clients. It's a book that is more than a book as it also has machine parts which the client wants cleaned up, repaired and made ready for use. Nobody but Billy should know that he's come in contact with it but some strange people have appeared at Joe's shop asking questions about and trying to acquire the object in question. Firstly there was the strange pair of Mr. Titwhistle and Mr. Cummerbund purporting to represent the Loganfield Museum of Mechanical History and this pair of oddball characters was quickly followed by a strangely dressed man who refers to himself as a Ruskinite. Joe advises them all that he is not in possession of the item they seek and then goes to try and find out more about it and his mysterious visitors. Joe's life is about to be turned upside down and inside out.

The second part of the story revolves around Edie Banister. A former superspy now nearing ninety whose story is told in flashback. She's probably the most sprightly octogenarian that I've ever encountered in any media. From her recruitment and training into the service and her long-running encounters with a diabolical South Asian dictator who goes by the name of Shem Shem Tsien who wants to look God in the eye and poke it with a finger. He's commissioned a doomsday device in best James Bond supervillain style and it's up to Edie to see he doesn't get to switch it on. When Joe and Edie's worlds collide it could be the end of everything.

Oh what a fun romp this is! A multi-genre mash-up that works brilliantly. Mixing in the aforementioned Bond with a touch of Allan Quatermain adding more than a dash of the British gangster flick and throwing in some steampunk elements and philosophical musings for good measure. Excellent characters that inhabit a beautifully written world. Dialogue that is imbued with a dark humour and a plot that brings all the strings together and ties them up in an end-of-the-world scenario that will have you furiously turning the pages. ( )
  AHS-Wolfy | Oct 29, 2014 |
If you enjoy the way words can roll around and reassemble in marvelous and unexpected ways, read Angelmaker. Harkaway makes me happy to read. So few people write sentences that make me stop in wonder at their beauty. Just watching the phrases, feeling pleasure at the way the words are coming off the page and floating in my head.

The story is good, if occasionally lost in the meandering of words well used. When you enjoy the use of words, it's probably best not to use a non-linear time line. The reader is apt to get lost watching the lights on the wall and miss the turning. Still, the lights on the wall are well worth being distracted by and the path can always be found on the next page or chapter.

The characters, especially Edie Bannister, are lovely. The evil neer-do-well, is truly despicable, but it's his truly horrifying henchmen that work best. These side characters that seem to be the bogey men under beds, make you fear that they won't be comfortably ended when the book ends and will always sneak out of corners unseen. Harkaway makes us a truly bizarre and unsettling set of bogies and that is nice treat.

I loved the book. I can see already its a book I will read again and again, just because it will be fun to visit. ( )
  blatherlikeme | Sep 28, 2014 |
A rollicking (and enjoyably verbose and descriptive) adventure which starts off slow but builds up to a crescendo which continues up till the very last pages. Harkaway's clear love of words might require the occasional dictionary perusal. I very much enjoyed:

- the strong female characters, Edie's old-lady (as well as young-lady) badassery (especially p52-58, it's how I imagine an old Sydney Bristow), Frankie's intelligence, Polly's sexual frankness, as well as all the secondary/tertiary characters, Cecily, Amanda Haines, et al,
- the three-line preview/recap of a chapter at the beginning of the chapter (the only one I could not make sense of was "habakuk" of chapter IX. Help, anyone?),
- the detailed description of the machines and the train of thoughts (e.g., ch. III when Joe was fixing the book)
- the flashbacks and digressions (I would read a book just on the exploits of Edie which is what I'm going to do, albeit it is only an ebook.),
- Bastion the pug with its "narwhal tusk" and the baby war elephant!,
- the "science" of the doomsday machine and the criminal crookeries (It's always fun to read about completely-ludicrous-but-maybe-just-plausible-enough-with-these-explanations science and about "classy" criminals (like the TV show Hustle). Interesting note, the criminal world in the book is like the scientific world, especially in pg 525, regarding catching up and potential collaborations.), and
-when Joe fully embraces his criminal self after the torture. It's akin to Angel in Buffy S2, you know what I'm talking about..

One star taken off for Edie's too-early-in-my-opinion death but half a star put back for Polly's innovation. ( )
1 vote kitzyl | Sep 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (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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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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:30 -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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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