Read angelmaker by Nick Harkaway Online


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 fixiA 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 . . ....

Title : angelmaker
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 16119931
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 498 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

angelmaker Reviews

  • Carol.
    2019-02-14 13:30

    I opened Angelmaker with high expectations. I enjoyed The Gone-Away World a great deal, and admired the blend of characterization, humor, and social commentary with a solid underlying concept. While those elements are in place for Angelmaker, it was a struggle to read until it gained momentum halfway through.It has been a challenge to figure out why, but I think at heart, the beginning reads a little like a collection of short stories or vignettes, which makes the thriller plotting drag. There is an ominous situation; Joe, the clockmaker/restorer of mechanical odds and ends is visited by some very suspicious people. He is unnerved, and resolves to find out more. After phoning a friend, it's quick trip through underground London (literally and figuratively), which segues from the the current situation to three days ago and then deeper into Joe's past. The narrative jumps to Edie, an elderly lady of suspicious skill sets, who earlier had Joe repairing various mechanical oddities. As she leaves the apartment, we are treated to a long walk down Edie's memory lane. It does gestalt together at the end, but quite honestly, it's a bit more patchwork quilt than pointallist painting. The time shifts remind me a little of The Rook, only in that case, O'Malley's time jumps were strictly between the same character, maintained a linear tracking and were therefore significantly more cohesive: two parallel plotlines that dovetailed together. Angelmaker is more like a complicated weaving, but instead of being enraptured, I find myself wandering away.****There's some great bits:"Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ari is reticent on the poison issue. Ari regards cats as lessons in the journey through life. Cats, he explains are divine messengers of patience. Joe, one shoulder still sore from a near miss two weeks ago, says they are Satanic messengers of discord and pruritus. Ari says this is possible, but by the working of the ineffable divinity, even if they are Satanic messengers of discord and pruritus, they are also tutors sent by the Cosmic All.'They are of themselves,' Ari says, clutching this morning's consignment of organic milk, some of which is leaking through the plastic, 'an opportunity for self-education.''In first aid and disease,' mutters Joe Spork.'And in more spiritual things. The universe teaches us about God, Joseph.'"Not cats. Or, not that cat.''All things are lessons.'And this is so close to something Grandpa Spork once said that Joe Spork, even after a sleepless night and a bad cat morning, finds himself nodding.'Thanks, Ari.''You are welcome.''I still want cat poison.''Good! Then we have much to teach one another!'"******Does that cat have anything to do with the story? No. Does Ari? Not really. This elaborate conversation exactly demonstrates the fun, the challenge and the problem in Harkaway's writing. Necessary? No. Fun, yes. Convoluted and elaborate? Yes.Harkaway is very good at the small scale work of combining incongruities to create an absurd whole, which is perhaps why people acclaim Angelmaker as absurdly humorist story. But absurd and thriller are a tricky mix; like a black bean and corn salad (one of my recent attempts), it can be a delightful taste mix. It can also be a mushy mess."He has a head shaped almost exactly like a pear. His brain must be squeezed into the narrow place at the top. His cheeks are wide and fatty, so that, if Mr. Cummerbund were a deer or a halibut, they would excite pleasurable anticipation in those fond of rich foods and delicacies."He does capture elderly dogs well:"They have long ago settled between them that he is to be disturbed between three and nine only in the direst of emergencies or if there is steak. The steak should be meltingly soft and warmed over in the pan. The emergencies are more exigent: fire, earthquake, rains of frogs, the arrival of a cat in the building."I notice some readers squirmed at the violence, but I found it usually understated:"The revolver makes an absolutely huge noise. To her relief, the back of Mr. Biglandry's head stays on, although it's clearly a close-run thing."He often starts with standard dialog and then sparks it up with absurdist social commentary:"Mr. Pritchard! What are you doing?... My grandfather is weeping in Heaven, or he would be if there were such a place, which there is not because religion is a mystification contrived by monarchists! Again! Again, and this time do it properly!"His convoluted writing often conceals clever references:"From the back of Polly Cradle's car and disguised like Mr. Toad escaping from the clink, Joe Spork stares at his home."He has an Adams-esque way with thoughts:"'Well,' Mercer says after a moment, 'that was insane. But apparently it was also a good idea. I find the combination unsettling. Please try not to have any more good ideas until I get to measure them against the possibility that you have gone entirely off your rocker.'"And pieced in, oh-so-delicately, is some heartfelt philosophy:"Love causes people to do stupid things. That does not, she realizes now, make them the wrong things."*****I like Harkaway's writing, I really do, and yet I'm struck by just how often I was willing to set it down to go to sleep, about the exact opposite my reaction to thrillers and mysteries (which normally falls in the "one more chapter" category). It's a little more like reading bon mots by a philosopher or humorist, and a little less like reading a single yarn from a fine storyteller. Great ideas, challenging philosophy, nice characterization--all good reasons to read it. Gripping, cohesive action? Not so much. I will note, especially in contrast to a number of other recently read books that pour on the cultural-referencing humor, that Harkaway manages to stay true to the emotion of the book and the family drama at its heart. He also does some interesting things with sexuality, which rather bothered me at first, until I realized he seemed to be turning (view spoiler)[ Edie into a caricature of (hide spoiler)] James Bond.After finishing, I realized that Harkaway has rewritten The Gone-Away World for a different milieu. Read it if you like more literary, humorist works, likely Breakfast of Champions, Catch-22 or A Confederacy of Dunces, and not so much if you are looking for a mystery/thriller/steampunk focus.

  • seak
    2019-02-07 20:30

    Nick Harkaway is a genius. Be ready for a highly impartial (minus the im-) review...I almost just left the review like that, but I guess I'll add a few more lines:writing: beautiful. I gave this to a friend who only reads thrillers and mysteries (Patterson, etc.) and it was too much for him in the prose department. This is a good sign for me. That means it wasn't garbage. Okay, that's not fair, but it does mean that it had colorful prose, which it does.humor: hilarious.It's just about perfect. Mixed with the gorgeous prose, the subtle humor had me cracking up left and right even though for the most part it's a serious piece (i.e., not Terry Pratchett satire).story: intriguing.A mix of mystery and some minor fantastical elements comes together in a wonderful story that is actually quite straight-forward. 5 out of 5 stars (Can't recommend Harkaway enough)

  • Megan Baxter
    2019-01-20 17:29

    This book is crazy. It is all over the place. And yet it hangs together, better than I thought Harkaway's previous book The Gone Away World did. I enjoyed The Gone Away World even though I didn't think the story, in the end, quite jelled. This one did, and I loved it. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • PaulPerry
    2019-01-22 21:18

    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 The Gone-Away World was not only one of the best debuts I've ever read, but one of my all time favorite books.

  • Clouds
    2019-01-26 19:32

    Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my GIFTS AND GUILTY list.Regardless of how many books are already queued patiently on my reading list, unexpected gifts and guilt-trips will always see unplanned additions muscling their way in at the front.I have a friend called Justin (true story); a crazy, loveable Zimbabwean who wears board shorts and sandals, whatever the weather. He has crazy dancing feet. He can wear a bow-tie and mean it. He’s a genius (but not an evil one). He’s also a spy.When Justin finished his degree (in Maths) he had an interview with the foreign office. He claims nothing came of it, but nobody believes him. In the years that follow, Justin’s life followed the induction programme for being an international man of mystery. He taught maths in Uzbekistan. He worked with the Portuguese military on submarine explosions. He ran the finance department of a landmine clearing charity in Angola. He spent a year living in van, travelling and analysing digital TV signals in every single country in Europe (including the random ones). He went to Japan to visit friends. He’s currently doing his masters in Paris, studying Genetic Mathematics. That’s the cover story, anyway. We think that having passed his probation period with all that crazy travelling, he’s now settled down to do some proper spy-training, and they’ve given him such a complex masters for his cover story to discourage people from prying.What, I hear you saying, does this have to do with Angelmaker?Justin gave me Angelmaker. I know! A crazy kind of spy gave me a crazy kind of spy story! He also gave me The Gone Away World, which is where the story really starts.How often does a debut novel wow you? Not, “wow, this writer has potential” – but “wow! this writer just came from nowhere and went straight into my all-time favourites list!”That’s what Harkaway did with The Gone Away World – it’s a truly awesome book and I absolutely loved it. Which is why I was concerned about Angelmaker. Whenever a music artist slams into my awareness like that with a debut album, there always seems to be a ‘sophomore syndrome’ kicking in on the follow up. Do you stick with the acclaimed formula from the debut, or do you push on with your artistic growth and leave fans disappointed that they didn’t get more of the same?Angelmaker is very broadly down the same eclectic path – combining elements of different genres in new and interesting ways. But the elements combined are different to his debut: a spy thriller, steampunk adventure, and coming-of-age story all splash down in a gangster-themed party. Or something!To break it down quickly: - the spy thriller element follows the main supporting character, an octogenarian ex-superspy looking to shut down the doomsday device her ex-lover built (and finish her life-long conflict with her arch-nemises). Amazing! Bonus points for the sidekick pooch. - the steampunk adventure style comes through in flashbacks of the spy’s early adventures and the amazing steampunk style train/submarine, and the fact that the doomsday device is a kind of quantum clockwork ubertech thingy! The lead guy is a clockwork restoration expert who must step up into the roll of adventure hero- the coming-of-age story is all about the oscillation of three generations saying “I will not be like my father” and finally reconciling the best of both extremes to really fulfil his own potential- and the gangster theme is about the father’s life, and all our hero is considered heir to – what he’s spent so long distancing himself from, but must embrace to survive this mad, life-changing quest!It’s a lot of fun. It’s superbly written. It’s unique. It’s special.So why didn’t I give it five stars?I’ve been reading an awful lot of truly superb books since I started focusing on my reading lists, and I guess part of a five-star rating is a gut reaction. Every book I’ve given five-stars to, it’s been a no hesitation, boom, you just know it. For Angelmaker, I hesitated. It’s good. It’s really, really good! But I hesitated. Maybe I didn’t quite connect with the hero. Maybe the steampunk and gangster themes never quite merged satisfactorily, but stand separately throughout. Maybe the doomsday device just didn’t quite deliver on the build-up. Maybe?None of my vague complaints would knock it down a whole star. Not even all added together… they knock it down maybe 0.6 of a star – so we’re talking about a 4.4-star book, which has to be rounded down to a 4? That’s the closest I can make to sense!It’s a great book – read it, love it.Mr Harkaway – I await your next offering with great anticipation!After this I read: Moon Over Soho

  • paula
    2019-02-13 20:08

    I wish I could write the review this book deserves, as Nick Harkaway (not his real name) wrote the review that Neal Stephenson's Reamd deserved - the one I was in the process of writing in my head. Stephenson's book was an action novel taken to absurd lengths, a nonstop global car/boat/bike chase firefight populated by real characters, most of whom you had to fall in love with. Ergo, I think it's no coincidence that Harkaway (still not his real name) felt he had some solid ground upon which to stand while surveying the fatness of Reamd.Angelmaker is leaner, sprawls less, but is similarly packed with spies and murderers and gangsters who run and drive and use weapons, and they're all real people. Well. Some of them are not. A few of them are... but no, I'm not going to say.It goes like this: in 21st century London, there's a guy who fixes clocks. Joe. Joe's father was a notorious gangster, but Joe is on the up and up mostly. Because of his talent with clockwork, Joe is recruited to play an unwitting part in a plot, activating a strange old machine. A machine which, regardless of the varied intentions of everyone ever associated with it, has the potential to kill everyone in the world. And let me interrupt myself for a second to say that as doomsday devices go, this one is not only one of the coolest I've ever read, combining the erudition of a Foucault pendulum with the charm of a cuckoo clock; but also the most chilling in its deadly effect.But because Joe has this heritage of the cool criminal, and his father's friends, and some remnants of his childhood training in London's (literal) underworld, he has the ability to turn his role as unfortunate pawn on its head. Which he does, and oh it feels good. There's a tommy gun involved. You know what I'm sayin. In this way, Angelmaker is like a reverse coming of age novel. Like Updike, but more fun. I have recently begun seeing certain adventure novels as daydreams. I read The Apothecary by Maile Meloy and I thought it was like the daydream of an imaginative American girl who is desperate for something INTERESTING to happen. Charlie Higson's zombie novels are the daydreams of bored poli sci students. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is what elementary school teachers dream about while cutting animal shapes out of construction paper.I was almost all the way through Angelmaker before I read the passage that told me who was dreaming this novel. A night shift routing controller who works for the freight rail system is approached by an older gentleman who helps her change a tire. In the process, he tells her that he is working with a wanted criminal in order to save the world, and he bribes her handsomely in order to procure her assistance. "It's probably because he is fixing her tyre, and in a position so absolutely compromised and vulnerable that it's clear he does not propose to do her harm. It might be because he's a bit like her older brother Peter, who died last year of cancer. Or it might be the feeling she has, that everyone has, that something is happening which is really important.So Sarah Ryce says yes [...]A few moments later, something passes her station going at what must be over a hundred and fifty miles an hour, and the old, rusted track protests, but holds. Sarah Ryce grins, secretly: whatever she's done, it's something big."You hear that? You hear the old, rusted track protesting, but holding? It's England. England is dreaming this novel. Is something really important going to happen in the next year? Probably. In the next six months? Maybe. Will something big happen in the next decade? Surely. But will it happen in England? No. Will British people be involved? Probably not. Unless Hot Harry possesses unexpected depths. PLEASE let Hot Harry possess unexpected depths.But really no. So far this century, important news from Britain has largely been to do with hats. What England would dream, if it could dream, would be for pre-Cold War-style field espionage, with its fake mustaches and poisoned cocktails, to suddenly become relevant again. England misses steam engines. Instead of blowup doll models on page three, England would prefer to see Ronnie Kray, his arm slung around a tipsy chorine. Like our man Joe, England looks its best reflected in polished brass, and yes, England would very much like it if hats came back.That's what I think about Angelmaker. I liked it. There's more to say about it, of course - there are thoughts about our better nature, as implied by the title; there are unusually good women; there is lots about craft - but a discussion of that stuff is the review this book deserves, and I am not writing that.One last thing: my husband spotted me reading this ARC, with its plain yellow cover. He wasn't wearing his glasses and misread the title, leading him to ask incredulously if I was really reading a biography of Angela Merkel. (I'm really NOT the type of person to read a biography of Angela Merkel.) So if you need a code name for this book, and it's the kind of book that might in some eventuality need a code name, you could do worse than Angela Merkel: a biography, by Nips Harpy.

  • Kinga
    2019-02-02 14:16

    On paper it looks perfect. Steam punk, romance, spy novel, comedy, action. All the reviews promised something I would love. But I struggled through this ‘fun, thrilling yarn’ like I struggle through some dense academic volumes. There were just too many words. Harkaway goes on and on in that typical British style that’s funny for a page but then gets tiring and all the dialogues read like a Monty Python script. “I shall now explain my plan. You may then speak, but only to amend the detail. The broad outline is not subject to negotiation. Are you ready? Good ... . I propose to have sex with you. I believe it will be excellent sex. Your obedience on one particular issue of timing will be required to make it unforgettable sex. I will explain that issue as we go. At the moment, I wish to hear your inevitable objection to the general sex part of this plan.”My eyes are rolling so hard. Everything gets lost in that verbiage – the characters, the emotions, the plot. It’s all too self-indulgent to really pull me in. The descriptions are theatrically absurd and slow down the already meandering plot. Someone in my book group pointed out that since the narrator is a clock maker that level of inane details in the narrative is somewhat justified and ‘in the character’. While that may very well be true, it was still mind-numbing to read. The hero was so non-descript that every reader could easily identify with him, whereas all the secondary characters were mere caricatures. Polly, despite her assertions, that she is not a Bond girl, a sidekick with boobs, is exactly that. She is a teenage boy fantasy girlfriend who is beautiful and witty, loves sex, but conveniently has no actual personality, so that she could fall in love with the narrator, no questions asked. There is something very English about this novel, it’s mostly about people being pulled into this adventure without really wanting to but being too polite to refuse. And it’s a throw back to the times when England did big things. Joe Spork, the narrator, is expected to be a criminal extraordinaire like his father, but he rejects this legacy. However, there are certain things you can't escape, so Spork takes the crown eventually but does it on his own terms. It makes a lot more sense if you remember that Nick Harkaway is the son of John Le Carre. All in all - others love ‘Angelmaker’, people I know personally love it with an astonishing fierceness and I'm confused because not only did I not love it I can't even use my usual 'But I see why other people might love it.' cop-out. All I'm going to say you might absolutely love it and reread it every year, like some people do. I will never know why but to each their own.

  • Phrynne
    2019-01-24 15:16

    I had been looking forward to this book so much because his first book The Gone-Away World was one of my favorite reads last year. Sadly this one was not as good and for the first half of the book I did not like it at all. It floundered along in a mess of too detailed descriptions and overwritten back stories although the story was always good when he got back to it! And then around the half way mark the story took over, the author stopped meandering and everything got so much better. In fact I was totally unable to put it down and read until late in the night to finish it.

  • Ben Babcock
    2019-01-24 21:16

    It would be tempting to say that Joe Spork lived a quiet, unremarkable life until he was pulled into an attempt to stop a mad South Asian dictator from unleashing a 1950s clockwork doomsday device by a retired octogenarian super-spy named Edie Banister. Tempting, but not quite accurate, since Joe is the son of the infamous Matthew “Tommy Gun” Spork, who kept fashionable crime and the honourable lifestyle of the gangster alive long after it should have faded into obscurity. Joe has turned his back on his father’s life of crime and taken up his grandfather’s trade—watchmaking—but it’s not enough to keep him from becoming involved in much larger, more bizarre affairs.Angelmaker is a chimera of a novel. The core of the story is a spy thriller, with homages to the golden era of James Bond and daring international espionage on behalf of queen and country. It’s a race against time to prevent a megalomaniacal supervillain from destroying not just the world but life everywhere in the universe! Yet rather than playing it straight, Nick Harkaway injects that sort of dry, very British humour that isn’t afraid to verge upon—and venture into—the absurd. It’s why I loved The Gone-Away World, and it’s why I love Angelmaker. Harkaway writes with a voice that makes me laugh out loud, whether it’s at his descriptions, dialogue, or characterization.Despite its careful callbacks to the 1920s gangster lifestyle and the 1950s Cold War spy genre, Angelmaker is very much a post-9/11 novel. The heightened response to domestic terrorism is a counterpoint to those more removed and romanticized elements. Various levels of civil service decide (and quite accurately, alas) that Joe Spork had something to do with the activation of this doomsday machine, and they aren’t afraid to subcontract someone to do a little enhanced interrogation. In this climate, Joe no longer has the right to remain silent—he has very few rights at all. It’s significant that Joe’s first encounter with an antagonist is not the dreaded Shem Shem Tsien but with Rodney Titwhistle and Arvin Cummerbund, who are not afraid to do whatever’s necessary to safeguard their country. This tension between Joe and certain representatives of government authority is what ultimately catapults the novel towards its climax and Joe’s transformation into a man of action.See, the first part of Angelmaker is enjoyable, but in a slow and very reflective way. We meet Joe, learn about his connections to the London underworld, hear a good yarn about what it’s like to be initiated as an undertaker, and then we meet Edie. As rumblings of a doomsday scenario gather on the horizon, Joe sort of stumbles from scene to scene without too much of a plan in mind. Aside from his unwitting involvement in activating the doomsday device, he is more of a spectator in the consequences than a participant—that is, until the government decides to turn him into a wanted man.Joe’s status as a fugitive forces him to confront a crisis of identity foreshadowed since the beginning of the book. He has spent the past decades of his adult life actively trying not to turn out like his father and avoiding, as much as possible, associations with the criminal element. His status as “the Crown Prince of the Night Market” nips at his heels like an unwanted insurance salesman, but Joe is determined to survive on the straight and narrow. Except it increasingly seems that, if Joe wants to get out of this alive—not to mention save the day and get the girl—he will have to step up and become not Joe Spork, the grandson of Daniel Spork, but Joe Spork, son of Matthew “Tommy Gun” Spork. This inevitable transformation is almost an apotheosis of its own, albeit not in quite as grand a way as Shem Shem Tsien would like for himself. From there, the novel switches gears and becomes a wild ride from “crazy” to “insane” as Joe and his allies concoct a crazy plan to save the world.And the girl? Her name is Polly, or maybe Mary Angelica, a onetime childhood friend and sister to Joe’s lawyer, Mercer. (The firm Noblewhite & Cradle, with its suspiciously ultra-competent staff, is another highlight of this book. They can, in Mercer’s own words, “sue anything”.) Polly is awesome, because despite being a love interest in a book with a male protagonist, she’s her own woman. When Joe has the audacity to treat her like a sidekick, she sticks an oyster knife under his eye and retorts, “Can we be very clear … that I am not your booby sidekick or your Bond girl? That I am an independent supervillain in my own right?” Later, after Joe has been kidnapped by the aforementioned team of Titwhistle & Cummerbund, Polly pays the latter a visit and clarifies her feelings about Joe:I do not know, at this point, whether Joshua Joseph Spork is the man of my life. He could be. I have given it considerable thought. The jury is still out. The issue between you and me is that you wish to deprive me of the opportunity to find out. Joe Spork is not yours to give or to withhold from me, Mr. Cummerbund. He is mine, until I decide otherwise. You have caused him grief, sullied his name, and you have hurt him. If anyone is going to make him weep, or lie about him, or even do bad things to him, it is me.From this and other comments and actions Polly makes, you get the sense that she might be a little bit mad. (Then again, maybe everyone in this book is.) Psychology aside, this is one woman I want on my side.Finally, I can’t continue praising this book without talking about Edie, the common denominator throughout the rest of this plot. She knew Joe’s grandfather and grandmother. She is, in a sense, the last surviving member of a cabal who created this doomsday machine, which did not start out its life as a doomsday machine but, like all good inventions of mad scientists, has the capacity for mayhem as well as miracles. The Edie of the 1950s is a cocky, over-confident spy whose hubris almost gets her and others killed. The Edie of 2012 is … a cocky, over-confident retired spy whose hubris almost gets her and others killed. At over eighty years old, Edie deals with assassins sent to kill her by calling them amateurs and shooting two of them with a gun concealed in her underwear drawer. (She chastises the third one in her best old woman voice and then sends him packing to his mum in Doncaster.) Like Joe, Edie is this perfect combination of heroic awesomeness and flawed humanity. So even though Angelmaker has characters and events who are larger than life, we can still identify with the protagonists, because for all their skill they are still kind of just muddling through the whole mess.I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it is one of the most original and unique books I’ve read in a long time. Lots of authors can ride the tides of traditional fantasy, urban fantasy, or science fiction and create vivid, imaginative stories. Harkaway, however, goes beyond that to create a story that really is different from anything else on offer right now. To label this as steampunk simply because of its clockwork components would be grossly mistaken. To call this a spy thriller simply because of its subplots of espionage and intrigue would be a massive oversight. And while, thanks to Harkaway’s style, this book is definitely comedic and entertaining, it also has an edge and a sense of constant, present danger—not to mention very real and permanent sacrifices from some.In short, Angelmaker hits a sweet spot for me. Every moment spent reading was a moment I could bask in Harkaway’s sprawling scenery and characterization. The story is just scene after scene of slow but constant development toward total mayhem, with a diversity of characters along for the read. Many books are entertaining and many are moving; Angelmaker is both of these things, and it is also a supremely satisfying read.

  • TheBookSmugglers
    2019-02-08 20:19

    I was supposed to have written a review of Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker for Kirkus last week but I just couldn’t finish the book.In principle, I should have loved this – heck, I had hoped Angelmaker would be so good it would even feature on my top 10 this year. It’s an outlandish Literary Fantasy novel featuring automata, London-based gangsters, World War II shenanigans and espionage with a plot to destroy the world using clockwork bees.But an extremely bloated plot with obnoxiously verbose descriptions (of pretty much everything the main characters come across as they wander around) plus a recently discovered aversion for third person first tense narratives unfortunately kept me from finishing the book.It was the toe you see, that eventually did me in.At one point in the narrative, main character Joe Spork is about to leave a room when he is stopped in his tracks by a toe. What follows is an unbearably long description of said toe which is, if you care to know: pale and round and the perfect size to be sucked. Also, and I quote: “a toe which knows the world, which has done the wicked, secret things other toes only fantasise about”.It is uncanny the amount of information one can gather from a simple toe. Said toe is of course, linked to other four toes which are in turn attached to a calf (slender) connected to a leg belonging to a woman called Polly (referred to as “Bold Receptionist” for far too long in the narrative after she is introduced) who has the dubious and eye-rolling ability to transform utterly innocent words like “sandwich” into erotic pronunciations (according to the hero’s point of view, of course).It was exactly at that point that I had to leave to attend a talk at Anglia Ruskin University by Philip Pullman on his new book Tales From the Brothers Grimm (the talk has been recapped brilliantly by The Other Ana over at Things Mean a Lot).Pullman’s new book is a collection of straightforward renderings (and not embellished retellings) of 50 Grimm tales and as Mr Pullman discussed the book one of the things he said struck me as quite interesting: the fact that in these tales the characters are not real people. The very nature of the tales, which are more preoccupied with what happens next rather than with the emotional background of said characters. These characters can be perceived as puppets, as creatures without any real depth because there is a shortness of description which leads to nonexistent characterisation. To be clear, this insight is not necessarily a shortcoming but rather, provided as a means to understanding this different type of narrative mode (and its motifs). The lack of internal characterisation is exactly what gives fairytales such a rich and lasting life because they are meant to be rearranged and retold according to each storyteller’s gifts. Because characterisation is not set in stone in those stories they can be elaborated on upon their telling.It was then that I had a EUREKA moment about what exactly was bothering me about Angelmaker.It was its over descriptive nature of the storytelling, that often veers into random territory and results in the complete lack of actual characterisation. Ultimately, this leads to the absence of any emotional resonance. Interestingly enough those are brought forth for the exact opposite narrative technique of that of a fairytale, one that is hurt by excess rather than dearth. There is an excess of description here and we end up being told rather than shown who the characters are and how they feel. It is not something that the author is completely unaware of, by the way, as his main character remarks about his extremely verbose friend: “sometimes the plumy, playful verbiage is obnoxious. It conceals emotion.”Quite.I put the book down around that time when Joe met Polly’s toe (about half way through). There was nothing for me there to make me want to continue and I was quite frankly bored out of my mind at that point. Not even the awesome 90 year old lesbian self-proclaimed kick-ass supervillainess (and former spy) whose story was a thousand times more interesting than Joe’s was enough to keep my interest.

  • Joshua
    2019-01-20 14:20

    I'm torn on this one. For every dazzling section that Nick Harkaway writes that is cool, unpredictable, lively and just awesome, he then writes a section that is meandering, show-offy and self-indulgent. It's too bad that he can't harness the greatness more often as this would be an epic entertainment involving a wide assortment of characters and action. But, he can't do that, as he goes on way too many off-shoots that slow the pacing and are just not needed. There is a re-occurring theme I have with some of these young writers that I've been reading lately as they try to write these big books with a lot of ideas, a lot of characters and a lot of themes---EDIT yourself! I'm not sure what their editors are doing to be honest as had Harkaway cut out some of the unneeded or wanted extras here, ANGELMAKER would have taken off like gangbusters for me. He wants to stuff the story with so much though that it just weighs it down, slows it down and fills it with too much. Too bad. Saved by the amazing moments, ANGELMAKER never truly becomes what it could of been due to the major flaw of excess from Harkaway.

  • David
    2019-02-14 13:21

    Having enjoyed Nick Harkaway's debut novel, The Gone-Away World, very much, I looked forward enormously to Angelmaker, hoping to find a similar spirit of gung-ho up-against-it little people against a big evil world, with extra ninjas and doomsday weapons.And he delivered. And the only reason I am giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is that he delivered pretty much the same package.Nick Harkaway has a definite style, a very recognizable style, dialog full of clever banter and witty asides with even the most gruesomely evil monsters taking the time to exchange bon mots with the people they intend to torture to death slowly. I like it, but it can get to be very much of a muchness, if that makes any sense, and after reading two entire books packed full of it, I'd like to see him expand a bit both in style and substance.Because, really, Angelmaker is his first novel with a new skin. Instead of post-apocalyptic with kung fu, mutants, and ninjas, it's clockworks (not "steampunk") and espionage, with jujutsu and evil monks.Since jujutsu is my style, I did appreciate recognizing all the moves, though. :) “Mr. Pritchard! What are you doing? Is that O-soto-gari? No! It is not! It is a yak mating with a tractor! That is really very very not very good! My grandfather is weeping in Heaven, or he would if there were such a place, which there is not because religion is a mystification contrived by monarchists! Again! Again, and this time do it properly!”How can you not love a Marxist Mr. and Mrs. Miyagi calling Mr. Churchill "A capitalist fathead, and a very nice man"?The story goes back and forth a bit between Edie Banister's World War II-era adventures as a lesbian James Bond and the modern day, in which Everyman protagonist Joe Spork suddenly finds himself holding the wrong end of a stick, the other end of which is held by an assortment of very, very bad people. Pretty soon he is neck-deep in evil monks, century-old megalomaniacal torturers, naughty (in a "violating the Geneva Convention and many other interesting laws" kind of way) bureaucrats, and a doomsday weapon consisting of clockwork evil bees.Naturally, Edie Banister and Joe Spork will find themselves on the same road eventually. If the idea of an old lady and her nearly-toothless pug mowing down bad guys sounds like fun, I assure you Nick Harkaway describes these heroic feats of decrepitude in an entertaining if not entirely believable way.There are heroic sacrifices, heartwarming speeches, and Crowning Moments of Awesome.It's just, I read almost the same moments in The Gone-Away World. This doesn't make them any less fun, but it does make them a little less mind-blowing. You need to pull out of a few new tricks to blow my mind again, Nick.Joe Spork, a nerdy, ordinary guy who somehow finds himself responsible for stopping an apocalypse and having awesome sex with a superhot action girl, reminds me of a Neil Gaiman character if Neil Gaiman's everyman protagonists ever actually did anything.I could also see a bit more of Harkaway's father's influence this time. John Le Carré, especially in his last few books, has really been beating the "British government is corrupt and evil" drum, and there's a lot of shady eternal-war-on-terror political skewering in Angelmaker.Harkaway, like his father, is a very skilled author who seems to be working a niche and working it well. I enjoyed this book very much, and will read his next. I highly recommend it both to those who have already ready The Gone-Away World and those who haven't. I do hope to see something just a little bit different next time - if it's more unlikely heroes battling sadistic ninja mutants and tyrannical government agencies to save the world, I'm going to suspect Nick Harkaway is not just in a niche, but a rut.

  • Христо Блажев
    2019-01-29 15:32

    Машината за ангели ще унищожи – или спаси – света:“В седем и петнадесет сутринта в спалнята си – малко по-студена от вакуума на космоса – Джошуа Джоузеф Спорк носи въздлъжък кожен шлифер и чифт от бащините си чорапи за голф.” Останалото е история, както се казва :)Въпросният Джо Спорк е часовникар с прочут баща (който не обича голфа въпреки чорапите), виден гангстер, който е успял да обедини лондонския подземен свят и да извърши куп знакови бели през лудешкия си живот. С такова наследство Джо няма много перспективи пред себе си, но избира да поеме по различен път и да живее тихо, кротко и почти според буквата на закона (е, има някои дреболии в мазето, за които не би искал да се говори, но това не е голяма беля). Разбира се, едва ли очаквате роман от 632 страници да описва кроткия живот на един часовникар. Джо прави грешката да е прекалено добър в своята работа – и единствен, който може да поправи (и активира) стара и много причудлива машина. От нея излитат рояк златни механични пчели… и машината за унищожение – или спасение – на света е задействана.CIELA Books

  • Jason
    2019-02-19 13:35

    5 StarsWhile I am giving this book full marks I cannot help but feel like I was let down or that Angelmakers was missing that extra something. The Gone Away World, Nick Harkaway’s debut novel, was my favorite read of the year, on my all time favorite list, and one that I continually think about rereading. This book, his sophomore novel, has some very high points, is written extremely well, but to me it is missing the magic that I found throughout his first book. That being said, my expectations alone might be what left me wanting more. Angelmakers is a book that the sum of all its parts is probably better than the whole as one. This is a detective story told through satire and set in a near future, somewhat steampunk setting. This is a London based 21st century spy thriller that is filled with clockwork books, automatons, and doodah’s instead of gadgets, cars, and guns. It is at its best when it is being whimsical and at times insane.Joe Spork is a fabulously written hero whom I identified with right from the start and empathized and cheered for him throughout the book. I liked that while he was a large man, a strong man, and a brave one too, he really was not a fighter. He is not your typical kick ass detective that other fear. He is a clock maker, a geek at heart, a nerd in a large man’s body. Harkaway does a great job at giving us quite a bit of Joe’s backstory, his relationships, and his dreams and aspirations. Joe’s wit and his intelligence carry this novel. Joe has some great stories about his “Tommy Gun” father, and his grandfather. I love the growth and self realization that Joe undergoes and the internal dialogue that he has about his situations.“This day is the pattern of his life. He is the man who arrives too late. Too late for clockwork in its prime, too late to know his grandmother. Too late to be admitted to the secret places, too late to be a gentleman crook, too late really to enjoy his mother’s affection before it slid away into a God-ridden gloom. And too late for whatever odd revelation was waiting here. He had allowed himself to believe that there might, at last, be a wonder in the world which was intended just for him. Foolishness.”Edie Banister, the 91 year old retired spy mistress was the best character in this book, and her chapters were the ones that I will remember most. She was portrayed perfectly, Harkaway capturing her strength and her wisdom, all the while tempering it with the problems associated with her advanced age. She is a very memorable character that I will recall long after I finish writing this review. Her chapters are filled with great action, great wit, and some cool chases too.Nick Harkaway has a gift with words. Throughout both of his novels he portrays environments, characters, and action by penning them with amazing prose. He is unique in that it is his wit and his satire that make his novels chuckle out loud. “Today, tiring of a.m. guerrilla war – and sensitive to the possibility that while he is presently single, he may one day bring an actual woman to this place, and she may wish not to be scalped by an irate feline when she sashays off to make tea, perhaps with one of his shirts thrown around her shoulders and the hem brushing the tops of her elegant legs and revealing the narrowest sliver of buttock – Joe has chosen to escalate the situation. Late last night, he applied a thin layer of Vaseline to the coping. He tries not to reflect on the nature of a life whose high point is an adversarial relationship with an entity possessing the same approximate reasoning and emotional alertness as a milk bottle.”He uses crazy words like “Whojimmy” and “Doodah’s”. One of the best side characters happens to be an old Pug named Bastion who is blind, has 2 pink glass eyeballs, one tooth, and a very mean temperament, and he tops it all off by having a freaking hilarious internal monologue. There are countless unique and colorful characters that also add awesome dialogue to this book:“‘Spork the Clock! Yes, of course you are! Spork the Clock and Frankie, in a tree. Gone now, of course. Spork the ticktock Clock … Wait for the day, she told me. Wait for the day. The machine changes everything. The Book is the secrets, all in a row. Death has the secrets, she said. Death bangs the drum, and his carriage never stops.’”I also enjoy that Harkaway pens action in so many different ways. He even does it well when one of his characters, Edie, has internal monologue about it. “Drop your weight. Never mind that it constricts your breathing. You can’t breathe anyway. Find your base, your connection to the ground. Yes, there. Now: snuggle closer to your attacker. Lock his arm where it is. Grab him by the elbow and bicep and twist your whole body, pivot on your feet. Ninety degrees, more, away from that bicep. Project your hands forward, as if you were pushing a grand piano with the heels of your hands.”Add in some fun philosophy on the nature of the world:“Do you still not see what I mean? Very well, then consider a cat in a box with a bottle of poison. At any moment, the bottle may open, or it may not. At any moment, the cat may die. Now: take two pictures, one after another, of what is in the box. Look at the second one first. At that moment, the observation determines what is in the first picture, and what happened to the cat. From our point of view, the information flows backwards through time. This is not a joke or a romance, Daniel. It is quite simply the way of things. The universe is undecided without us – and our minds are part of what exists at some level we do not yet begin to understand.”Although I wanted more, I loved this book. It has so much to offer to so many different types of people. Fans of Steampunk, Thrillers, SciFi, Fantasy, and the New Weird, will all find something to love in his books. I am a huge fan of Nick Harkaway’s and hope that he can find a larger audience. This is a fantastic read that I highly recommend…that is after you go out and read his masterpiece The Gone Away World first.

  • Gabrielle
    2019-01-29 13:12

    British humor, steampunk automaton, government conspiracies, characters with Dickensian names, a mystery to solve, a family past to come to grips with, a grumpy retired spy and her grumpy pug. I mean, come on: this sounds too good to be true… And yet here it is! "Angelmaker" had everything it needed to intrigue me, and I had so much fun reading it. Let the gushing begin!Classifying this book is very tricky: it reads like a spy thriller at times, like a noir detective story at others, and like a surreal comedy the rest of the time. I enjoyed being surprised at every turn of page by the unexpected place "Angelmaker" took me to. I shelved it as steampunk because crazy clockwork automated... things are in the story, but it's not fantasy, not even a little. But it's also not every day that a thriller will demand that its readers consider the functioning of the human mind and how perception affects reality, the mathematical effects of truth and the real motivations behind moral relativity.Joe is the son of a legendary gangster, and grandson of a clock-maker. He takes after his grandfather - or at least he did until he got himself tangled in a strange situation: a "friend" brings him a mysterious clockwork device to fix, but that device just might be more than it seems, and some really dangerous people might be looking for it. He will need to use some of the skills and contacts that his father left behind to get himself out of trouble, with increasingly surprising results.Edie is a retired spy: pushing ninety, she lives alone with her blind doggie, and suffers the cruel disillusionment of people who set out to change the world and were let down by a world that simply would not get better. She might be old and crotchety, but she is extremely dangerous. As we explore her very eventful history, we come to realize that she is intimately linked with the pickle Joe is stuck in. She might also be the only one who can help get him out of it.The slightly uneven rhythm and the non-linear narrative makes this a potentially confusing book: you have to be awake and focused to read it, lest you loose your way. But Harkaway weaves such a fascinating and intricate story that regardless of those little flaws, I found the book very hard to put down. I just wanted to read it in big gulps - but I didn't because if you read this book too fast, you will inevitably miss it's quirky humor and fascinating characters. The quintessential British tone made this a complete pleasure to read: Harkaway is an excellent, funny writer with a very unique voice.I enjoyed watching Joe coming into his own and understanding his family's complicated patrimony: he starts out so quiet, always hesitant of everything and unwilling to take any risks and finds the confidence he needs to be assertive and transcend his idea that he is stiffed by his father's inheritance. His realization that crimes are sometimes committed for good reasons, and that following the rules doesn't work when the game is rigged was an amazing and satisfying ride. Parents may leave us a complicated heritage, but there is always something to be learned from it.Can I just said that I loved, loved Edie?! That is exactly how bad ass I hope I'll be when I'm ninety - minus the people hiring assassins to kill me, of course. Harkaway's female characters are no push overs: Polly and Frankie aren't exactly maidens in distress either, and it was lovely to read about such unusual ladies. The supporting characters are also well fleshed out, and deeper than I expected from a book that starts off with such a pulpy premise. It is easy to get attached to all of them.If you enjoy witty language, rollicking rides on roads littered with spies, mad scientists and super creepy monks, this is an incredibly fun book that will keep you reading until the wee morning hours. 4 and a half stars, rounded up.

  • RandomAnthony
    2019-01-23 19:14

    Sorry, Mr. Harkaway, I'm not finishing Angelmaker. I'm going two stars with a couple hundred pages left, full disclosure. While well-written in spurts, and with an interesting end of the world premise, Angelmaker reads like a book that's trying too hard and knows a little too much about how to insert cliches. Mysterious fat guy/skinny guy pairing? Check. Kind of hot but not taking any shit from the main character girl? Check. Goofy criminal friend getting the main character in trouble? Check. Somewhat clueless but well-intentioned main character? Check. But beyond all those cliches Angelmaker's cardinal sin is the dual past and present storylines format that drag this novel into the muck. I didn't care about the "past" storyline and considered skipping those chapters entirely. But instead I gave up and felt relief about ten seconds after the decision. Angelmaker disappoints.

  • Mish
    2019-01-28 15:35

    Wow! Outstanding. Over the top, fun filled adventure novel I’ve read in ages – and slightly on the verge of madness!!! In this story we follow the life of Joe Spork, a maker and repairer of antique clockwork and does the occasional odds and ends for his clients. A trade taught and carried on by his late grandfather. Joe prefers the quiet and uncomplicated life; a life under the radar compared to his eccentric, loud father, Matthew ‘Tommy Gun’ Spork, a legendary gangster of the Night Market. Joe’s life takes a disastrous turn when a devise he’s working on accidently activates a doomsday machine, setting off a swarm of mechanical bees into big wild world, which could potentially destroy civilization if not stopped. A series of events follow as Joe tries figure out exactly what he has unleashed; he’s life is threatened, friends are murdered, and he is wanted man by a corrupt British government. While this is taking place, Joe’s client Edie Banister is also targeted and on the run. Edie is an 89-year-old retired spy and the activated doomsday machine has brought about enemies of her past to reappear. It is mainly set in the present day but occasionally it shift to the past as we go down memory lane with Joe and Edie to learn of the purpose and creator of the doomsday machine, of family connections and secrets, and of love and revenge.Prominently science fiction but it weaves espionage, adventure, historical and futuristic elements in its plot – a little of everything to suit all taste. There’s a vast range of expert characters that repair, modify or invent unusual devices and machines. For someone like me, who doesn’t read science fiction that often, the technical details (mechanical in’s and out’s and the tools used) seemed a little heavy to begin with and slightly intimidating. But once I realized it wasn’t necessary for me to comprehend every minor detail but to understand its purpose - what it is and its intended use – I then felt more at ease and could see the plot was taking shape.It had the funniest dialogue and scenarios by far (coordinating the train timetable into the sex scene was my favourite), which was told effortlessly. The humour starts off subtle but gradually builds until it becomes so witty and outrageously comical, it had me in a full-grown belly laugh - I couldn’t get enough of it, it had me rereading chapters/quotes over and over again (and was part of the reason it took me so long to finish it). Even the characters names were all part of the humour and well thought out.The visual aspect of this book was like a work of art. It’s set in modern day times but occasionally you’ll get glimpses of the Victorian with the antique clockwork, toys gadget, due to Joe’s occupation. And then it would switch back in time to Joe’s father and the night market, which had an underworld gangster style feel with guns and gambling. Splashes of gold from the mechanical bees gave you a feeling of the future. Beautiful, eye catching and you never know what you’re going to see as it continuously changes from scene to scene.The casts of characters were excessive and most peculiar; crazed brainwashed monks, a deranged Asian ruler who thinks he’s god, a glass eyed pug with an attitude (and who has a thing for Joe’s testicles). But the women in this book is what I loved most, they have a great deal of spunk - Edie whom might be 89 years old but not what she’s seems; one sweep of a karate chop and she’ll have you knock down senseless. And Polly, Joe’s love interest, is intelligent, quick witted and full of sexual power, bewitched poor Joe in a good way.Besides all the humour and outrageous scenarios it’s also a thought-provoking book on the different viewpoints on how science and technology can better or perhaps destroy our world if it’s control/ruled by the wrong people. And it also a story of newfound love, family values and loyalty, and of self-discovery. Brilliantly constructed and well thought out novel in every possible way. It’s fast paced, and can be a little complex at times, but a must read if you like a challenge.

  • Sara
    2019-02-06 15:20

    If ever there was a book that fit the "everything and the kitchen sink" shelf this is it. Nick Harkaway clearly has lots and lots and lots of amazing stories and characters running around his head and he certainly made every effort to put all of them in this psychedelic spy thriller. Fortunately with the help of an excellent turn of phrase and a gift for making the fantastical seem entirely possible he's left us with a cornucopia of literary delights rather than a garbage plate (upstate New Yorkers will get that joke).Joe Spork is a taciturn, socially challenged clock maker. He learned the trade from his grandfather who passed his love of all things mechanical to his grandson when his own son turned to a life as a local crime boss. Now both men are dead and Joe is just trying to get by. But even if you try as hard as you can to distance yourself from the crimes of your forbears, those crimes have a way of coming back to haunt you.When Joe's friend Billy (whose last name is Friend just to get you hopelessly confused), a good guy who dabbles in a little bit of everything arrives in his shop with a mysterious contraption he will only refer to as a "doodah" Joe abruptly finds himself the focus of an international manhunt and discovers he is quite possibly about to become the person responsible for ending (or saving) the world. Caught in a maelstrom of religious cults, nefarious government agencies and the secrets hidden in his own past it quickly becomes apparent that Joe may not be getting out this alive.That summary just barely scratches the surface of this immense, action packed novel. Seriously there are so many quirky characters, so much rapid fire dialogue and so many crazy action scenes I couldn't list them all if I wanted to. Therein also lies the reason for four stars instead of five. While I'd definitely label this a spy thriller it is not by any means a quick read. There's a whole lotta story here and I admit it takes a little while to get into. That's a pitfall in genre bending reads I find. You're doing so much zany world building that sometimes the story disappears. Fortunately for Mr. Harkaway it never gets too out of hand.There is a great deal to love about Joe Spork's world. So if you're into nefarious bad guys you're gonna love the one in this book and if you like your lady sidekick's sassy with a side of hutzpah you're gonna love the one in this book. If you like tragic flashback sequences full of clandestine romance, science fiction submarines and a clockwork monstrosity known as the Apprehension Machine you're gonna love this book.I mean who doesn't love Apprehension Machines?

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-02-20 14:26

    Silly, sarcastic and inventive. Lovable antihero Joe Spork is the grandson of a clockmaker and son of a mobster criminal – and in this unlikely caper he ends up taking after them both. His quiet life as a restorer of antique clocks is disrupted when he gets mixed up in the search for the secrets of the Apprehension Engine, a sort of apocalypse machine that is meant to dispense truth and godlike knowledge, but in reality seems only to release menacing swarms of golden bees.In a series of flashbacks we learn that Spork’s grandmother, Frankie Fossoyeur, designed the machine in the 1930s at the behest of evil despot Shem Shem Tsien. The other main character, 89-year-old Edie Banister, was the spy who infiltrated Tsien’s court and fell in love with Frankie, and her reminiscences of Second World War espionage provide an intriguing counterpoint to Joe Spork’s mishaps in modern London.Even in her old age Edie’s still a badass, especially as aided by her grumpy and halitotic pug Bastion, who packs a mean bite with just one tooth and pink marbles for eyes. Along with a host of quirky side characters, Joe and Edie work to limit the damages caused by the Apprehension Engine before it can be shut down for good.Spork is a delightfully hapless character, but his transformation into a tough guy is a mite far-fetched, such that his role as protagonist becomes less convincing in the last 100 pages or so. Nevertheless, this is a cracking romp of a read, however daft, and makes for a gentle introduction to the steampunk genre. Nick Harkaway is a creative comic force to be reckoned with.(See my full review at Bookkaholic.)

  • Chris
    2019-02-20 13:16

    Anglemaker is Neal Stephenson by way of P.G. Wodehouse. Or perhaps the other way around.Rarely have I read a book so thoroughly enjoyable. Is it a "Great Work"? Perhaps not. But it is "art". I suppose some would say it's merely an adventure story. It is, but it's told with such wit and verve that I almost couldn't put it down. Mr. Harkaway so clearly loves his characters (even the bad ones) that they leap off the pages and demand that you acknowledge them. The plot of the story is straightforward, and the conclusion is satisfying. Like life, there are some passages that are hard to read due to the unhappy content. You must get through them, because they are a necessary part of the larger narrative. What makes the book something special is the style, the dialogue, the way the plot is tightly packed and expertly edited.I can't say enough good things about this book. I eagerly await Mr. Harkaway's next work, and I will scoop it up and devour it the moment it becomes available (or sooner, if that's possible!)

  • Derpa
    2019-02-17 17:25

    Did not finish. The book is so weirdly written that I had a hard time concentrating on anything. Verbose, like it swallowed a thesaurus, it just really killed the momentum. I mean many of you would probably like it, but I didn't feel like I was having fun when I had no idea where we were and where we were going. It also all sounded the same. Different characters' inner monologue sounded like the author, not like separate people. Absolutely not for me.

  • Abigail
    2019-02-15 18:36

    I enjoyed Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. I was immensely drawn in from the start, and continually intrigued by the paths the story was taking. Based on the first half (or more) of the book, I didn't necessarily expect the turn our protagonist Joe Spork took, and I'm still not sure how it felt to me - almost like two parallel story lines converging into one; a little unexpected, maybe a little clunky, but ultimately it ran smoothly. Joe Spork from two realities meeting and morphing into one like Firestorm.The characters were a lot of fun. Edie Banister is an incredible, strong, ferocious character made even better by the fact that she is elderly by the time we meet her. The flashbacks to her younger life were some of my favorite parts of the novel, and I think Nick Harkaway could create a world around her. To me, she makes Joe Spork look like a toy. Billy Friend is basically Captain Jack Sparrow. Or at least, in the audiobook version, sounds exactly like him - that circular way of talking, bolstered up by intelligent words, all strung together to say nothing of much consequence, but still convince you of something all the same. I adored him. The plot begins as fiction and mystery, then morphs into sci-fi in a way that you almost don't perceive at first, and wind up totally buying into, and then tosses on gangster culture just for good measure. Fun! Was this the best book I've read this year? No - I've read some great ones that would be hard to beat. Did I enjoy it and would I recommend it? Totally!

  • Michael
    2019-01-26 17:20

    Joe Spork is the son of an infamous gangster “Tommy Gun” Spork, trying to live a quiet life fixing antique clocks. His plans were uprooted when he finds an unusual clockwork mechanism. Turns out that device is a doomsday machine and Joe has triggered it. Now Joe Spork has to face the wrath of both the British government and the diabolical villain Shem Shem Tsien. Angelmaker is an adventure unlike anything I’ve read before, featuring a mystery involving Joe Spork and his quest to stop the evil villain and his doomsday device.Angelmaker blends elements of Steampunk with some literary writing into the story; while reading this book I kept thinking how much this book reminds me of an old Victorian novel, with the prose and style. The back drop to this story is the criminal underbelly of London which is packed with atmospheric charm. All this is mixed with an action adventure that would remind you of a James Bond plot. Never have I read a book that blends so many genre elements so masterfully to make my pick for Best Novel of 2012 (so far).I’ve heard this book being called a Charles Dickensian romp and while I’ve not read enough Dickens to accurately agree with this statement, I do feel that the writing does resemble the Victorian era nicely. I think this is what makes the Steampunk elements of this book feel more authentic. I know a lot of people can argue this book isn’t really true Steampunk but when I think of this genre, I think of Victorian alternative history and this book does fall under that style.Angelmaker is either a literary Steampunk novel or a Cold War-style espionage adventure, either way this is definitely a book worth trying. I had so much fun reading this story; it pleased the genre and literary reader inside of me. I hope to find more books like this that would please both types of readers, so if you have any recommendations I would love to hear about them in the comments below.

  • Книжни Криле
    2019-02-05 16:37

    Какво да ви кажа за „Машина за ангели” на Ник Харкауей? Хммм... Ами как ви звучи това: Шпионски ретрофантастичен трилър, алтернативна история със стиймпънк елементи! Край! Мен лично не трябва да ме навивате повече. Но ако вие имате нужда от още убеждаване – то тогава четете ревюто нататък! Прочетете ревюто на "Книжни Криле":

  • nostalgebraist
    2019-02-17 19:24

    Nick Harkaway is a puzzle. Does he write above his material, or below it? By his "his material" do I mean his ludicrous, pulpy, indulgent stories, or do I mean the joyous sense of humanity, camaraderie and good humor with which he tells them? Which of these is more fundamental?In his very perceptive review of Harkaway's debut, The Gone-Away World, Jonathan McCalmont pinpoints what is offputting about Harkaway's characters:When Master Wu dies, for example, we are expected to feel sadness and, to a certain extent, we do. However, this is not because Harkaway creates well drawn characters who inspire empathy; rather it is because Harkaway has a gift for description and does not hesitate to preload all of his characters with the emotional responses he expects from us. Consider the above description of Master Wu as a spry, whimsical, jovial, and loveable old man. He is loveable because that characteristic is built into him from the start, along with the fact that he is an 80 year-old kung fu master. Harkaway does not show us his characters' natures; he tells us. In truth his characters are barely differentiated and are memorable only because Harkaway is particularly skilled in the art of what James Blish once called "substituting funny hats for characterisation." In effect, Harkaway relies exclusively upon his linguistic skill to do all of the book's heavy emotional lifting. This makes reading it much like watching a weakly written film with a magnificently moving score: it affects us, but once the experience is over we realise quite how manipulative and lacking in genuine emotional content the experience was.This is harsh, but it's only one side of the story. The other side is that Harkaway writes his "score" very, very well. The standard Harkaway character is someone the protagonist already knows as of their first appearance in the story, and whose arrival on the page comes with a rush of associations and deftly selected memories. Harkaway's sense of human relationships is so finely honed that the reader feels, after receiving one of these brief packages of info, that they have been invited into the private texture of a real bond between two people. This is what McCalmont means by "preloading characters with emotional responses" -- but if the preloading feels authentic, what's wrong with it? Fiction by its nature has to abbreviate, and Harkaway's prodigious skill at the abbreviation of human life is something to be lauded.A little bit of this kind of writing goes a long way -- and Harkaway never gives us more than a little bit. Having established one of these instant character studies ("just add reader!"), he considers his work done and moves on the next shiny plot destination. The reader wants to know more -- to spend more time in this new human environment that has been so promisingly sketched -- but no, it turns out this new character was just a plot device in the action-adventure story. They promptly disappear, possibly by dying, possibly just by getting put in the closet with all the other outdated toys. And then, just when the reader is wondering just what Harkaway's priorities are, Harkaway helpfully throws in some ninjas or zombies or world-destroying ultimate weapons to clarify that his first priority is always to be AWESOME!!!!!It gets wearying, this AWESOME!!!!!ness. I don't read very much stuff like this, not because I'm opposed to AWESOME!!!!!ness per se, but because it tends to be badly written. Harkaway's books are not badly written, but I'm not sure that entirely solves the problem. Everything in these books is so damn fun, an atmosphere clogged with fun, fun ultimately a noxious gas that stifles the growth of those little sprouts of humanity that keep poking their heads up. One feels fond enough of these people to want to know what these people are like on an ordinary day, but Harkaway doesn't have time to tell your about that because he wants to tell you about the day his lesbian James Bond rescued her psychic French mad scientist lover from the Opium Khan. No one has room to breathe, or laugh, or break down, except in ways that aid the clockwork plot.This review is basically a rewrite of my review of The Gone-Away World, because Angelmaker might as well be a rewrite of The Gone-Away World. I thought that one Gone-Away World was about the right number. The jarring qualities of The Gone-Away World are now jarring qualities of the Harkaway brand; you can't explain them away with reference to any of TGAW's particular themes or ideas, because now here is its brother, with totally different themes and ideas, with better pacing and characterization, leaner, more focused, but still with the same basic daftness. Every chapter, in both of these books, begins with a set of three mysterious italicized phrases which refer, often in oblique and/or witty ways, to the events one will read about in the chapter. (From the first chapter of Angelmaker: "The socks of the fathers; mammalian supremacy; visiting an old lady.") TGAW and Angelmaker are different books, not part of any sort of series, and yet those chapter headings -- along with numerous quirks of plotting and character -- link them together under one ominous aegis, the Harkaway brand which has now taken definite shape. I hope that Harkaway will one day write something without triune italic chapter headings, yea, without AWESOME!!!!!ness. Angelmaker does not inspire confidence.Four stars? Wasn't this review kind of . . . negative? Well, yeah, but I rated The Gone-Away World five stars and that review was even more negative. As in that case, I feel a force pressing staunchly at the star rating from below -- the force of Harkaway's undeniable skill and the brute fact of just how much fun these books are to read. I would expect Harkaway to be more widely read than he is. Isn't there plenty of adventure/sci-fi writing out there that's just like this except worse and more popular? Maybe the problem is the warmth; maybe people who read this stuff want grit, nihilism and betrayal, not the chummy Harkaway world where everyone goes way back with everyone else. (The blurb describes Angelmaker as "blistering gangster noir," which is incredibly misleading, because these are about the cuddliest gangsters you will encounter in fiction.) I, anyway, had way too much fun with this one to go anywhere below four. You got me again, Nick -- you overachieving, underachieving bastard.

  • ᴥ Irena ᴥ
    2019-02-16 16:20

    First, this book is marvellously written. It follows two sets of events - the present belonging to our hero, Joshua Joseph Spork, and the past belonging to Edie Banister, now a ninety year old former spy. Their individual chapters switch until they come to a point where they become one extraordinary story. Some of them end in cliffhanger which would have annoyed me to no end if Joe or Edie hadn't been equally interesting.Joe Spork promised his father, a criminal genius, not to be like him and he honoured that promised until the world messed up his peaceful existence. His only wish was to be left alone to fix various clockwork items. He chose to be quiet and not to be noticed; but he still remembered his father's lessons.(view spoiler)['He [Joe's grandfather] thinks if you play by the rules long enough, the right sort of fellow will win out. He may be right. Thing is, in my experience, the right sort run out of money or the wrong sort leave the table. The game is fixed. Always has been, always will be, and the only way out for a man is the gangster’s road. Take what you can, do what you must, and know that being a right sort never saved anyone from anything.’ (hide spoiler)]His best friend brings him a strange device to fix and you can say all hell breaks loose from that point on. What follows is what could be called Joe's awakening. He learns that his world is not black and white and what happens when the world crosses the line, when 'the gangster digs his heels in' and ' the craftsman rolls up his sleeves.' Edie's story is historical part of the book. Edie became a very competent spy on WWII. She even got an enemy for life. Now she is almost ninety and she is mad at the world, mad at those stupid governments and, above all, she is mad because the world became worse when it should have been better. There isn't any character development in her case, but young Edie is interesting enough to have a great story. The older Edie is wiser, sadder and unexpectedly dangerous to anyone who tries to hurt her or her silly dog.I loved so many things in this book. It has so many crazy, over the top characters that there would have to be a special review only about them. but most of all I love the way the women are depicted. Even stereotypes have character. Polly is my favourite. There aren't any damsels in distress here. If anything, they are the ones causing trouble. (view spoiler)[ Polly to Joe: ‘Because I am considering investing heavily in J. Joseph Spork stock, and I do not care to have the opportunity taken away. Also, this fidelity to the right thing over the clever thing speaks well of you as a romantic lead. It seems unlikely I will have to detach you from an Estonian fashion student or some similar harpy at any point down our mutual road together, if there should be one. This is a quality which a girl should value over and above common sense, although in doing so she must take on the burden of keeping you alive in the face of your own considerable nincompoopery. Thus. My way, or the highway.’ Or even better example how great she is - Polly to a bad man: ‘I do not know, at this point, whether Joshua Joseph Spork is the man of my life. He could be. I have given it considerable thought. The jury is still out. The issue between you and me is that you wish to deprive me of the opportunity to find out. Joe Spork is not yours to give or to withhold from me, Mr [...]. He is mine, until I decide otherwise. You have caused him grief, sullied his name, and you have hurt him. If anyone is going to make him weep, or lie about him, or even do bad things to him, it is me.' (hide spoiler)]While it was slow for some reason, there are numerous gems scattered all throughout the book. Humour, wit, sarcasm, irony, you can find everything in this book. It made me cry, it made me happy, it made me think. The ending is not a fairy tale nothing bad happened type. Considering everything that happens in this book, it is close to a fairy tale ending as it can be. There is one thing that I would have changed or shortened. It is more my personal preference than anything else. There is a part of the story (somewhere after two thirds of the book) when Joe finds himself alone. It was longer than I would have liked.Besides the great story, this book will make you think about the absolute truth and its value in the world and in the lives of individuals.

  • Rick F.
    2019-02-20 17:18

    "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"What an amazingly unique rollercoaster of a ride ANGELMAKER is!! This is a very hard novel to categorize as it contains so very much in the way of plot, characterizations and wit. I suppose if you take a dash of Dickens, add a spoonful of HG Wells, a sprinkle of Pratchett and a tumbler of Spillane- you might have a general idea of this utterly original novel. While I have named several legendary writers, ANGELMAKER is all Nick Harkaway..and what a creative, sharp-witted and skilled writer Mr. Harkaway is!Joe Spork is very happy with his nice quiet life working with antique clocks. An existence forever changed by the arrival of one of the most endearing and surpising characters you will meet- Edie Banister- who is nothing like the nice old lady she first appears as!! She is a standout amonst a book chock full of wonderful and eccentric characters! She is also the reason that nice, quiet Joe Spork is forced to undertake the journey of a lifetime- a journey the reader is lucky enough to be a passenger on...and a journey one is not likely to forget anytime soon!!!A JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB MUST READRICK FRIEDMANFOUNDERTHE JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB

  • Victoria
    2019-01-24 21:19

    This book was one that sounded so interesting from its description. I wasn't sure what to expect, but "noir" is not an accurate description that the publisher applied. It is more of an urban pseudo-fantasy, set in a sort of steampunk-version of London, and this is a genre that simply does not hold much appeal to me. There are moments when the story and its characters utterly sucked me in - especially Bastion the pug, but the style of the novel as a whole just couldn't captivate me. The meandering style that shifts abruptly over time left me in a fair amount of confusion and consistently pulled me out of the story itself. The chronology was too hard to hold onto, and while I did like Edie, I just couldn't muster up much sympathy for Joe neither-Spoon-nor-Fork, but entirely useless Spork. And while that was part of the point, and moments were quite amusing, the hero of this novel just never raised enough my interest above utter apathy as to his future.This version of London and the characters simply weren't constructed firmly enough that the meandering intrusions did not completely frustrate me. Constant tangents and dull, droning prose just couldn't get me through to the end of this rather weighty tome. I just lost interest completely. So, I did not finish it - which is very rare for me. And while I so plan to return to it someday, and then update this review, at this point, I am not going to force myself to read a book that after 200 pages I could care less whether all the characters live or die (with the exception of the aforementioned pug - I am a sucker for the lives of dogs in books, after all!). It really is too bad, because there are definite moments of wit, charm and maybe even a hint of brilliance, but the interspersed drivel just weighed it down too much to allow this reader to have any connection to the book or its characters.

  • Colin Taylor
    2019-02-06 15:17

    I'm really not sure where to begin with Angelmaker, a tale of clockwork bees, antique WMDs, monastic orders and London criminals. Without doubt, Nick Harkaway has an incredibly active and vivid imagination, one that he uses to build a fantastic world of antiquity predominantly set in the present day. Also without doubt is Nick Harkaways love of language, which is evident from his often ever-so-slightly self-indulgent floral prose, and his propensity to write dialogue involving characters who have recently speed read the complete Oxford English Dictionary. His use of language can really be quite beautiful, but it has the unfortunate effect of often puncturing the fiction bubble.There were also a few plotting issues, especially when dealing with the lead character, Joshua Joseph Spork, a man trying to live in the shadow of his father, one of London's most notorious and loved criminals, a Robin Hood of sorts. He's chosen to reject his natural ascendancy to his fathers throne and has instead chosen the life of his grandfather, a master of makers. There are too many leaps of faith, too much fast forwarding, that it never feels believable, especially when considering the reaction of both himself and those around him.I persevered with this book, chivvied along by Harkaways amazing imagination and his often poetic style, the same style that sometimes got in the way of a good adventure. Better plotting and pace, and less lexical flotsam (a possible Harkawayism) would have benefitted an otherwise solid yarn.

  • Borislava Petrova
    2019-02-17 14:14

    "Машина за ангели" е книга, която исках да имам още като излезе! Това е и първата книга, която съм прочела със 100% упоритост... за 2(ДВЕ) седмици! Хм, какво да кажа? Първите 250 страници са напълно излишни! Дълги протяжни описания на миналото и случки, които постепенно се навързват, за да се стигне до кулминацията и накрая гонен сума ти години злодей - сразен в 3-4 страници...! Историята беше интересна в сумарно 300 страници. Ако трябваше да е шедьовъра, който го изкарват. Четох наистина, тотално, без интерес, почти до средата на книгата, което е пагубно. Ако един четящ не се запали в началото, колкото и от средата (за тези, които стигат до там), да е интересно, то един куп хора ще да са се отказали до тогава. Доста хаотично ревю написах, но такива са чувствата, породени от прочита на книгата.