Book - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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 . . .
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2012
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780307595959
Branch Call Number: F HAR
Characteristics: 481 p. ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Apr 24, 2018

Other reviewers have said it before, but it bears repeating. Some novels, like Gravity's Rainbow (Pynchon) or the Baroque Cycle (Stephenson) grab you and take you for a ride that overloads the mind, and you are not sure what's going on. It's like you are one page behind all the time, but the ride is so interesting that you just hang on and enjoy it. Nick Harkaway is one of those authors, too, and this book is a perfect example of his ability. Like horology, the action is tightly wound, and every little incident plays its part into making this a masterpiece. What may seem incidental becomes a key cog in a complicated story. And like his first book, Harkaway finds a way to make a train an integral piece in the wild ride. It is a fascinating read that defies genre, but overall tells a great story- and that is what novels should do.

SCL_Justin Jul 20, 2017

Angelmaker was my first Nick Harkaway book. It’s about superspies, the clockworking son of London’s criminal king (but the good kind of crimes that are all about sticking it to society’s betters), a corrupted cult of technologists against mass-production and a globe-spanning swarm of mechanical bees. It’s pretty amazing.

In a lot of ways it reminded me of a more pulpy-fun Thomas Pynchon novel, though Neal Stephenson might be a bit more apt a comparison. Joe Spork doesn’t fall into the Stephenson-ultracompetence trap though. He’s just a guy caught up in things too big for him to deal with on his own. There’s a murder and torture and with the support of his lawyer and some revelations about himself and his ancestry there’s a plot to save the friggin world. Very good book. Lots of fun.

May 09, 2017

I think that if someone had a lot of money this would make a good movie as long as they paid attention to the details of the story and also included a prologue statement on the screen(like they did in "Star Wars"(the first movie).

Dec 22, 2014

A richly constructed fantasy world of London gangsters, wildly improbably technology, apocalyptic threats, and an eerie cult of John Ruskin followers. Hugely entertaining, and a bit like reading a hybrid of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

Jun 05, 2014

I loved this book. If it was possible to give it more than 5 stars I would have.

Joe Spork fixes antique clocks for a living. It is a quiet life and nothing like that of his fathers, the infamous Mathew “Tommy Gun” Spork, which is just how he wants it. When Joe comes across an unusual clockwork mechanism that he could only dream of being able to build, his orderly life is thrown into disarray. The British government, a South Asian dictator, monks, an ex-secret service agent, his father’s old cronies and a secret from the 1950’s, all join together to make this a memorable story.

This tale was complex, funny and spellbinding. It makes me wish I was a bit cleverer so I could do a review that does it justice. But seeing as I am not that kind of person I will just stick to saying that I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Dec 14, 2013

This is a complex and hilarious read. I really enjoyed it and now I am enjoying listening to my husband laugh out loud as he reads it.

JeremiahSutherland Jan 11, 2013

The author says it most succinctly close to the end of his book. "Windbag". Some great ideas, amusing wordplay and good narrative. Too bad there's so much padding with pointless prose that does nothing to advance the story. Very sad.

Nov 06, 2012

Like nothing else I've ever read, this book is a combination of modern/victorian England, steampunk, hilarious british wit & mayhem. I'll never look at bees the same way.

ChristchurchLib Sep 19, 2012

"Is it too early to be picking favourites? I hesitate to say this, but I think I may already have found my best read of 2012 ... Can it really be that everything else is downhill from this book?"

Read the Christchurch City Libraries blog post

Jul 16, 2012

Well, that was fun!

View All Comments


Add a Quote

Jul 16, 2012

'To wait up with the dead; to take what they have no use for and set it aside; that the corpse looks lively on the day; to see the dead from bed to dirt, and no indignity more than what fate inflicts; to serve the wailing widow and the lonely man with grace, and carry the Waiting Man's Quiet like a comforter, that is lent at need; to hear the Screaming, and let it have no voice; to preserve the silence of the dead, and keep their secrets; to take fair payment and seek no favours; and to move on, without regret.'
--The Waiting Man's Promise

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at RPL

To Top