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Angelmaker (Vintage Contemporaries) by Nick…

Angelmaker (Vintage Contemporaries) (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Nick Harkaway

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6644614,446 (4.01)70
Title:Angelmaker (Vintage Contemporaries)
Authors:Nick Harkaway
Info:Vintage (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library, Speculative 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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Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Mild mannered antique clock dealer Joe Spork finds himself in a lot of trouble. On commission from an anonymous client, he’s repaired an intricate automaton in the shape of a book and delivered it to an abandoned greenhouse in Cornwall. Now an assortment of strange and sinister characters are showing up at his shop in London looking for it. When he goes to ask the friend who gave him the book, he finds him murdered in his bed. Now he’s wanted by the Police, some dark Ministry of the government, a mysterious order of masked monks, and evil agents of a diabolical foreign power. Fortunately for him, the sister of his solicitor, sexy and adventurous Polly Cradle, takes a fancy to Joe. But will Polly be able to put Joe in touch with his inner gangster in time to defeat the forces arrayed against him and stop a vintage weapon of mass destruction before it eliminates all life in the universe?

Harkaway has crafted a rollicking adventure story that unfolds in the 21st century then flashes back to Second World War espionage, and stuffed it full of vivid characters, thrills, verbal pyrotechnics and a whole lot of fun. Weyman gives a superb performance as he brings to life mad geniuses, an evil dictator, a blind pug, super spies, and assorted members of the criminal underworld and government. ( )
  MaowangVater | Feb 5, 2015 |
This book has a lot in common with other modern British urban fantasy novels (particularly Neverwhere and Kraken), but with quite a bit of James Bond thrown into the mix. The story features strange ineffable magic and a wondrous and terrible underworld, but also troublesome bureaucrats and a cross-dressing secret agent with extensive martial arts training. It is bombastic!

The protagonist isn't an everyman by birth. His father was a storied burglar, but he denies that legacy to follow the career of his grandfather, the honest clockmaker. Of course chaos and trouble comes into his life anyway, in the form of a sweet old lady with a dark past and a crazy plan.

If you're comfortable with flashbacks and intertwining stories then you'll enjoy this narrative. The story leaves the protagonist's perspective just when the number of questions introduced by his story became overwhelming, and switches to characters who immediately answer some of those questions.

Also, this book features the most sympathetic depiction of an attorney that I've ever read.

Did I mention that it is often funny, touching, or rivetingly exciting? ( )
  wishanem | Jan 27, 2015 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (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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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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