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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  5,879 ratings  ·  1,050 reviews
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 fixin
Hardcover, 482 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 03, 2015 Carol. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: genre-busters
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 i
Paul 'Pezski' Perry
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.
Feb 24, 2015 seak rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: audio, 2014
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. M

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,
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 s ...more
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 ...more
Ben Babcock
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 bac ...more
Jan 02, 2014 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lesbian James Bonds, sons of clockmakers who have to stop apocalyptic bees
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
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 ...more
5 Stars

While 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
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 descri
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’
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 straightforwar
Rebecca Foster
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 flashbac
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 vi ...more
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. So ...more
Rick F.
"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
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
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 meanderin ...more
What a great book to listen to--not certain how far I would have got reading it, but Daniel Weyman just swept me up and never stopped. Part of the listener's pleasure is in recognizing his pleasure in immersing us in this wonderful romp. The book is a steampunk SF spy thriller adventure and that's just for classification. It's Joe Spork clockmaker's journey of self-discovery, elderly super spy and vamp Edie Banister's magical tale, and a wonderfully imaginative, swashbuckling adventure with the ...more
Colin Taylor
Sep 09, 2013 Colin Taylor rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Colin by:
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 hav ...more
William Thomas
I'm a sucker for a great cover. The old adage about not judging only applies in its metaphoric sense. Anything with a phenomenal graphic design like 'Angelmaker' will make me wet myself with all of the aesthetic pleasure to be had. Reading the book is a very secondary pleasure. I collect books sometimes just for the cover and let them sit around the house as decration. The premiise of 'Angelmaker' was so intriguing that I didn't do the usual 'let-the-new-book-sit-around-for-3-years-before-I-read ...more
This is a quite a strange book. It starts out as a mystery involving a mild-mannered clockmaker and it evolves and transforms through a World War II spy story, a bizarre psychoanalytical section and finally 50's/60's-style England gangster.

While it wasn't very engaging at first it slowly picked up steam especially once I got to Edie's back story. From there the story propelled on through twists and turns to the good, but inevitable, ending. Joe was a great character as he went through a transfor
If you enjoy the way words can roll around and reassemble in marvelous and unexpected ways, read Angelmaker. Harkaway makes me happy to read. So few people write sentences that make me stop in wonder at their beauty. Just watching the phrases, feeling pleasure at the way the words are coming off the page and floating in my head.

The story is good, if occasionally lost in the meandering of words well used. When you enjoy the use of words, it's probably best not to use a non-linear time line. The
This could have been called A Chip Off the Old Block since the author is the son of John Le Carré. And a tip of the hat to Nick Harkaway for not using that to gain publicity.
The acorn does not fall far from the tree as they say so you might think this is all about spies, but this is one of those novels that’s impossible to attach a brief label to. An intriguing blend of steam punk, spies and gangsters, this is a complex, gritty book that developed quickly into an engaging read.
Joe Spork is liv
Alan Chen
This is my 2nd book by Harkaway and I like what I'm seeing. He writes pulpy, fast paced, action driven novels and throws a little bit of everything including the kitchen into his stories. Joe Spork is a clockmaker whose father was a crook and leader of the London underworld. Joe wanted to be the opposite of him and so lived an honest life and took up his grandfather's profession. Being a clockmaker/repairer is important because the crux of the story is about clockworks. Similar to steampunk, but ...more
Tom Whalley
Imagine you locked Neal Stephenson in a room with a bunch of Douglas Adams books, and told him to write a Guy Ritchie movie. Now, imagine one of the protagonists is an 80 year old lesbian ex-superspy. That's Angelmaker.

I should amend this slightly before going on: despite mentioning Adams in that paragraph, this book isn't funny. It's got British absurdities, sure, and there are moments that made me crack a big smile, but it's not funny. Don't go into this looking to laugh out loud.

I digress.

Nick Harkaway took his time coming up with a sophomore novel and reading Angelmaker one can really see why. By its sheer magnitude and range and the time it took to read (entire day with pauses for food and such, this is not the book to skim, there is too much going on) this was an epic. Good book is the one that has the basic elements and structural arcs and archetypes and utilizes them well. Great book is the one that has it all and then some and makes them sing, literally all the things you ...more
⊱ Irena ⊰
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
An inventive intricate bit of literary stew. Harkaway's novel reads like a comic spy thriller, a tour through Peter Ackroyd's and Charles Dickens's London replete with honorable thieves and evil government operatives, a steampunk comic without the pictures, and a P.G. Woodehouse romp all nicely marinated and cooked to tender perfection. Can our hapless hero, Joshua Joseph Spork, a meek and law abiding clockmaker, manage to avert the end of the world? Or will he, and everyone else, meet an untime ...more
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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: b
More about Nick Harkaway...
The Gone-Away World Tigerman Edie Investigates Doctor Who: Keeping Up with the Joneses (Time Trips) The Blind Giant

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“I love you forever. I am sorry I cannot love you now.” 36 likes
“And don't tell me the end justifies the means because it doesn't. We never reach the end. All we ever get is means. That's what we live with.” 17 likes
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