Thursday, March 8, 2012

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

About the Book

All Joe Spork wants to do is live quietly. He repairs clockwork and lives above his shop in a wet, unknown bit of London. The bills don’t always get paid and he’s single and in his mid thirties and he has no prospects of improving his lot, but at least he’s not trying to compete with the reputation of Mathew “Tommy Gun” Spork, his infamous criminal dad.

Edie Banister lives quietly and wishes she didn’t. She’s nearly ninety and remembers when she wasn’t. She used to be a spy, and now she’s… well… old. Worse yet, the things she fought to save don’t seem to exist anymore, and she’s beginning to wonder if they ever did.

When Joe repairs one particularly unusual clockwork mechanism, his quiet life is blown apart. Suddenly he’s getting visits from sinister cultists and even more sinister lawyers. One of his friends is murdered and it looks as if he may be in the frame. Oh, and in case that wasn’t enough, he seems to have switched on a 1950s doomsday machine – or is it something even more alarming? Edie’s story and Joe’s have collided. From here on in, nothing will be the same – Joe’s world is now full of mad monks, psychopaths, villainous potentates, scientific geniuses, giant submarines, determined and extremely dangerous receptionists, and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe – and if Joe’s going to fix it or even survive, he must show that he can be everything Mathew was, and much, much more.



A criminal thief’s son who is trying to do good, a ninety year old lady who happens to be a retired spy, her ugly loyal dog who has marbles for eyes, an archenemy who wishes to elevate himself to godhood, and a 1950’s weapon which threatens the modern world... What do you get when you throw the above combination in with some good humour and wit and philosophy? A hugely entertaining adventurous romp called Angelmaker. 

Our protagonist is Joshua Joseph Spork, who fixes mechanical devices, especially clocks. Spork is a large, polite man and is attempting to make an honest living but his late father’s criminal activities make this rather tough. He is constantly dodging figures from the past in an effort to stay on the straight and narrow. It all goes quite pear shaped when a ninety year old lady, Edie Banister (who is most definitely not what she appears to be), who owns an extraordinarily ugly dog, hires him to fix a particularly peculiar clockwork device. This sets in motion a chain of hilarious and dangerous events beginning with a visit from two men bearing the ridiculous names of Titwhistle and Cummerbund. Spork’s relatively quiet life erupts into madness with the emergence of secret societies, serial killers, scientific revelations, and the impending doom that is possibly the end of the world. 

Notwithstanding the rip roaring escapade, Harkaway’s novel has some serious undertones. The idea of how we choose to define ourselves and what we consider truth is sketched alongside the lighter and fast paced action. At one point, Spork debates his own existence; his own truth: 

"Be someone. Be no one. Be yourself. Be happy - but how? He has no idea. He is a nowhere man, caught in between".

Nick Harkaway’s second book is a wonderfully fun read. The Gone Away World author has stitched incredibly fascinating characters together with a quirky, compelling storyline. The scope of the story allows the characters to be fleshed out and feel genuine, despite their surreal qualities. Angelmaker is a credible modern fantasy story, making for a read which one can plunge into with absolute delight and no fear of being disappointed. 

About the Author

Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall in 1972. He studied philosophy, sociology and politics at Clare College, Cambridge, and then worked in the film industry. The Gone-Away World is his first novel. He lives in London with his wife.

Review by Bradley Lutz


violininavoid said...

This sounds awesome - exactly the kind of bizarre story I love. I have a copy of Harkaway's The Gone Away World, which I haven't gotten around to reading, I'm sorry to say. Looks like I'll need to get my hands on this one too.

Thanks for the review Bradley!

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