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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Joshua Joseph Spork is a name that will be with me for a long time, if not the rest of my life. He is an antique dealer, expert repairer of things clockwork, son of a submachine toting crook, and the main character in Nick Harkaway's spy adventure novel, "Angelmaker".

When I reviewed Nick's previous novel, "The Gone-Away World", I described it as "a fast paced...
Published on 31 Jan 2012 by P. McCLEAN

versus
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Long-winded but okayish in the end
I did change my mind very slightly by the end but this is still a very long-winded, loosely edited book that could have been a third of the length and much tighter. The story meanders around like an engineered culvert built by a millionare madman, it just feels laboured. The violence (even the torture) has no reality and no humanity - it just seems like Violence Lite. I...
Published on 20 July 2012 by Skippy


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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, 31 Jan 2012
By 
P. McCLEAN (Dublin) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Angelmaker (Hardcover)
Joshua Joseph Spork is a name that will be with me for a long time, if not the rest of my life. He is an antique dealer, expert repairer of things clockwork, son of a submachine toting crook, and the main character in Nick Harkaway's spy adventure novel, "Angelmaker".

When I reviewed Nick's previous novel, "The Gone-Away World", I described it as "a fast paced tale that covers a lot of ground and doesn't let you rest for a minute". Well, he's done it again. The same pace; subtle, and not so subtle humour; intricate plot, and breadth of scope are all present. "The Gone-Away World" convinced me I should read anything Nick writes. "Angelmaker" reinforced this conviction.

Without being specific I can tell you that Joe Spork, like any central character in a spy novel, finds himself in a troublesome situation with different elements of his life falling asunder. For someone who just wants a quiet life this is rather troubling. In addition, he is surrounded by characters who may be on his side, or possibly the other. For that matter, he doesn't know what or who the other side is.

We also meet Edie Banister and her pet dog. Don't be fooled by Edie Banister's outward appearance. She may be a little old lady in her eighties, but in her heart she is something very different.

Nick's characters are impeccably drawn, his language artful, and his plot intriguing. This was one of those books that I was sorry to finish and that, I have to admit, had me with a lump in my throat at the end.

"Angelmaker" is much more than a spy novel. It is a tale of struggle and loyalty; a story of family and righteousness; and a narrative of how a legacy of former years can visit havoc on the present day world. It also poses the questions, "Who is really in control?", "What are they really trying to do?" and "Do they have a clue what they're doing?"
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Long-winded but okayish in the end, 20 July 2012
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This review is from: Angelmaker (Hardcover)
I did change my mind very slightly by the end but this is still a very long-winded, loosely edited book that could have been a third of the length and much tighter. The story meanders around like an engineered culvert built by a millionare madman, it just feels laboured. The violence (even the torture) has no reality and no humanity - it just seems like Violence Lite. I keep thinking.. Phillip Pullman on a very bad day when he kept writing despite the fact that he couldn't think of anything to write about.
I you like this you'll probably like Lord of the Rings, and maybe Wild Wild West (film).
If you like your atmospheric London fiction a little better crafted you'll prefer Rivers of London (Ben Aaronovitch).
Nice cover though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not an Angel Delight, 15 Aug 2014
By 
amazon customer (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Angelmaker (Paperback)
I quite like and respect this book for its ambition and wordy attention to detail however it was the latter that caused me to get bogged down and almost half way through made me call it a day. You know something’s wrong when you keep checking how many pages you’ve read and how many are left - at 550+ pages this ain’t short. With it’s too-clever-by-half writing style this was a real plodder for me and I started to resent the time invested for dubious reward. I think if I was retired and could give it more time during the day and not just battle through half a dozen pages at bed time things may have been different but I’m not so sure. The author tries way too hard to make everybody a “character” with a fanciful name and shady past or present but it became a bit tiresome and also confusing with jumps between different eras and characters. It’s a bit sixth form in parts and whilst Harkaway definitely has a good imagination, he also laboriously subscribes to the “why use 10 words when 100 will do?” school of thought and it’s for that reason “I’m oot”.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A frustrating mixed bag, 22 Jan 2013
This review is from: Angelmaker (Paperback)
There are some wonderful, inventive ideas in here. The Ruskinites are a great creation, and rather touching with it; the effect of the Doomsday machine is frightening and original.

On the other hand, there's also a lot of annoying whimsy and juvenilia. It's trying far too hard to be cool.The main characters are cyphers, spouting identikit 'snappy' Tarantino-style dialogue, and it's very difficult to feel anything for any of them, or care about their fates. The silly names don't help. The female characters are particularly one-dimensional and unconvincing, consisting almost entirely of lithe bisexual women who get turned on by absolutely everything (in one section, one of them is turned on by the sight of her own forearm. Sigh.) As a female reader it can feel quite alienating - these are women created by male fantasy. The sheer amount of over-the-top, cringeworthy sex scenes is exasperating. It reads, at times, like something written by a hyperventilating teenage boy. You wish he'd pull himself together and focus on the plot, which can be gripping, but you'll be lucky if the action's not interrupted by pages of interminable stuff about the nature of causality or a long description of something that isn't as interesting as the author thinks it is. When you do get the action, it's often over-egged with hyper-violence and gratuitous nastiness which in the end becomes more tiresome than shocking. As others have said, also, it needs a really good edit. I've found myself skipping whole sections of superfluous stuff. You would have thought the issue might have been resolved post-Gone Away World, but Angelmaker is almost as verbose.

But then, I'm still reading it. It's gripping. Just prepare to be frustrated.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure, humour, tragedy, romance and bees, 30 Jan 2012
By 
I Readalot (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Angelmaker (Hardcover)
Back in June 2008 I picked up a debut novel `The Gone-Away World' that frankly blew me away and left me wondering what Nick Harkaway would come up with next and indeed how he could write anything better. When a proof copy of `The Angelmaker' came into my possession I couldn't have been happier and all other reading was put on hold. Anyone who enjoyed `The Gone-Away World' is going to love this.

Joe Spork is trying to live a quiet life, not easy when your (deceased father) was an infamous mobster - Matthew `Tommy Gun' Spork. On the first page we learn of how his father hijacked a lorry load of Argyll socks destined for St Andrew's Golf Club, ridiculous, bizarre but hilarious to read. Joe spends his life mending clockwork and when a `friend' hears of a clockwork mechanism that needs repairing Joe is called in. Unfortunately this leads to him unknowingly triggering a doomsday device `The Apprehension Engine' and a bit like Richard Hannay in `The 39 Steps' he is on the run and caught between the Government and a sinister organization known as `The Ruskinites', taking their name from the 19th century art and literary critic John Ruskin. This weapon is unlike anything you have come across before.

Joe comes into contact with another inspired creation in Edie Bannister, a former spy now in her 80's who has grown bored and craves excitement again. She spent years trying to kill her nemesis Shem Shem Tsien but he just refused to die. Joe and Edie join forces to save the world's population from a fate worse than death, with some help from his underworld contacts. Nick Harkaway has a slightly warped and subversive sense of humour which suffuses just about every page. In `The Angelmaker' he successfully combines action with tragedy he throws in a bit of philosophy, some romantic interest for our hero, memorable characters and of course, bees, the ending had me almost cheering out loud. It often happens that great story tellers are not particularly good writers, Nick Harkaway combines both skills to great effect.

This is a thoroughly entertaining novel that I can't recommend highly enough for anyone who is looking for something a bit different. And if you don't know who his Dad is I am not going to tell you, but it definitely goes a long way to explain his story telling ability. I just hope that there is not such a long wait for his next novel!

Just noticed that a short story is available for Kindle 'Edie Investigares', involving Edie Bannister from 'Angelmaker', so if you have a Kindle and are unsure about Harkaway's novels this would be a good way to discover him.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite literally too glorious for words!, 24 April 2012
This review is from: Angelmaker (Hardcover)
Once in a while, if you're spectacularly lucky, you come across a book so magnificent you simply have to share the joy with others, yet so utterly barking you honestly don't know where to begin! An absolute treat from start to finish, this is one such rare and wonderful gem. Read it for the quiet clockmaker. Read it for the spies and secret agents. Read it for the marvels of engineering. Read it for the bees. Read it for the baby elephant. Read it for the fiendish villain. Read it for the gangsters. Read it for the nearly-toothless pug. Read it for the nostalgia, the optimism, the embrace of a more stylish way to live. Read it for the simple delight of a tale well told. Just, whatever you do, read it!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harkaway Does It Again--He's One To Watch, 13 Feb 2012
This review is from: Angelmaker (Hardcover)
The story is set in a modern-day London where Joshua Joseph Spork, an unassuming clockmaker (and reluctant son of a gangster), accidentally switches on a doomsday machine. A doomsday device that involves clockwork and bees (admit it, you're intrigued). In between we have periodic flashbacks to 1939 where a young English girl, Edie Banister trains to be a superspy. Harkaway ties the past and present together beautifully into a thrilling climax that the book reaches only two pages from the end.

Brilliant.

Angelmaker attempts to answer the question--if everyone could see the truth, would the world be a better place?

Great plot, FANTASTIC characters, a mix of action, and a few love stories. This book has it all.

Harkaway's writing in this book and his first novel, The Gone-Away World, has ensured that he will be a constant favorite of mine.

If you enjoy spies, doomsday weapons and clockwork, you will LOVE this book. I guarantee it.

Deserves a very high recommendation.

9.25/10.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable but hard work in places, 7 Jan 2014
By 
Ter (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Angelmaker (Paperback)
Enjoyable but hard work in places. Many characters with mutiple storylines and timelines. Full of ideas - maybe too many half-realised ones. I do not think I will read any more from this author as I think I'm not overly fond of cyberpunk style fiction - I have to admit I had not realised that this novel was of that type.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a 'steampunk' tale, but fun., 12 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Angelmaker (Paperback)
A rather off-beat adventure with an unlikely hero and lots of wonderful action. A grand romp !!
I've given it 4x rather than 5x because some parts seemed a bit too far-fetched for contemporary setting. 4½ ??
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Angelmaker - Nick Harkaway, 5 Aug 2013
This review is from: Angelmaker (Paperback)
Fantasy is not a typical choice for me, so Angelmaker was an unusual experience. It's true to say that the genre has changed in many ways: this was more like Artemis Fowl on speed than Lord of the Rings. It was modern in setting and characterisation, packed full of adventure and excitement, full of improbable events and stuffed with bonkers science described in fantastic detail.

A universal doomsday machine; a 90 year old granny secret agent; the London sewers, the London gangs - the hero a 40 year old reclusive clock repairer with typically adolescent relationships - a nod to the readership possibly.

This book has everything - and more besides. What kind of imagination, what powers of determination, could lead to anything as vast and mad as this? Villains as wild as crazy dogs: cruel and heartless; Welsh and Oriental. Torture chambers filled with horrors, beautiful, independent women, sexy and powerful, a hero finally armed with his phallic Thompson machine gun, wreaking havoc and bedlam on all the powers of state authority and repression. It's an adolescent's dream of machinery, madness, mayhem, and revenge on all the sand-kicking bullies of all time. Brilliant!

One thing though - I won't be reading the sequel, should there ever be one. This was a holiday read suggested by a short bearded salesman burrowing around in the Newton Abbott branch of Waterstones. He may have been around the age of 40, probably had big hairy feet - oh and I think he was called Bilbo.
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Angelmaker
Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (Hardcover - 2 Feb 2012)
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