Angelmaker

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Angelmaker is Kindle 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

Angelmaker is Kindle 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.. 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 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 .. Good Kindle Angelmaker 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)

About Author

  • Nick Harkaway Post author

    Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall, UK in 1972 He is possessed of two explosively exciting eyebrows, which exert an almost hypnotic attraction over small children, dogs, and thankfully one ludicrously attractive human rights lawyer, to whom he is married.He likes oceans, mountains, lakes, valleys, and those little pigs made of marzipan they have in Switzerland at new year.He does not like bivalves You just can t trust them.

One thought on “Angelmaker

  • 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 a [...]


  • Nick Harkaway is a genius Be ready for a highly impartial minus the im reviewI almost just left the review like that, but I guess I ll add a few 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 doesmor hilarious.It s just about perfect Mixed with the gorgeous p [...]


  • 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 policy and enforcement You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook


  • 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.


  • 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, loveabl [...]


  • 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 whi [...]


  • 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 [...]


  • 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 [...]


  • 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 [...]


  • 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 descripti [...]


  • 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 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 so [...]


  • 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 t [...]



  • 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 sopho 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 m [...]


  • 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 [...]


  • 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 clu [...]


  • 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 [...]


  • 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 w [...]


  • 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 w [...]


  • 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 concl [...]


  • 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.


  • 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 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 [...]


  • 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 [...]



  • 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 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 [...]


  • 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 hono [...]


  • 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 existe [...]


  • 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 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 [...]


  • 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 [...]



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