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 . . .
In Harkaway's endlessly inventive second novel (after The Gone-Away World), Londoner Joe Spork has turned his back on his late father's mobster legacy and become instead a clock repairman. Asked by a friend to fix a complex old machine, Joe finds himself inexplicably pursued by shadowy government agents, a rogue sect of technophiliac monks, a suburban serial killer and an identity-shifting Asian drug lord called Opium Khan. As Joe races to discover the true purpose of the machine, he learns that the answer might lie with elderly Edie Banister, a superspy during WWII. Edie's flashbacks to her war adventures are easily the most diverting aspect of this book, but in no way overshadow Joe's frantic search to uncover the truth about the machine, a doomsday device that turns out to be linked to his family history. With the fate of the world in his hands, Joe realizes that the only way to save the planet might be for him to embrace his father's gangster heritage. Perhaps inspired by the New Wave science fiction of Michael Moorcock, the London crime novels of Jake Arnott, and the spy fiction of John le Carr (the author's father), the novel ends up being its own absurdist sendup of pulp story tropes and end-of-the-world scenarios. Although the narrative often threatens to go off the rails, Harkaway makes his novel great fun on every page.
Customer ReviewsSee All
100 Words or Less
Just when you know where this is headed, it jukes back another way in a wonderful surprise. Part of that is the amazing plot and characters. Yet, the crisp and at times beautiful writing is the core of this novel’s power.
Many times, Harkaway tiptoes atop the absurd but in a delightful way. Separate all the parts, and none of the plot or characters are believable. However, as a whole, it comes together with a force that keeps you turning page after page. It’s weird, inventive, fun, and a pleasure to read.
An Amazing Journey
I was simply blown away by the style, smarts and creativity of Nick Harkaway. Has he truly only written one previous book? Angelmaker absorbs you into various secret worlds, of different times simultaneously, that are brought to life with incredible character development. This story is fabulous, and I again and again found myself in awe of Mr. Harkaway's knowledge and creativity. Enjoy the amazing journey of Joe Spork, his family, layered associates and connections. There is not another book like this. Nick...please write something else soon!!!
NOW what do I read?
I stumbled onto Nick Harkaway when the iTunes bookstore recommended him. I read "Angelmaker" with bliss, loving not just the plot and the wit but the language, too. (One of those books where sometimes you have to stop and admire how nicely a paragraph or thought is put together.)
Among other lures, Angelmaker features the unsuspected world below London's streets... as well as flash backs into the life of a sassy, daring super spy girl agent. What an incredible, edible yarn - funny, smart, exciting, wistful, and fulfilling (the ending lives up to the bravura beginning, and YOU know how rare that is).
Then I downloaded the only two other books Harkaway has written, and inhaled them as quickly as I could...
So now what do I read? iTunes isn't giving me any of those "People who liked this also bought..." suggestions, probably because there aren't any other books like this one. How annoying; I want more, and as far as I can tell, now all I can do is sit here tapping my toe impatiently while waiting for some stranger to WRITE FASTER.