Angelmaker

  • by Nick Harkaway
  • Narrated by Daniel Weyman
  • 17 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World - a new riveting action spy thriller, blistering gangster noir, and howling absurdist comedy: a propulsively entertaining tale about a mobster's son and a retired secret agent who are forced to team up to save the world.
All Joe Spork wants is a quiet life. 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 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's a former superspy 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 fixes one particularly unusual device, his life is suddenly upended.
The client is one Edie Banister. And the device? It's a 1950s doomsday machine. And having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator, Edie's old arch-nemesis. With Joe's once-quiet world now populated with mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe, he realises that the only way to survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she gave up years ago, and pick up his father's old gun....

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What the Critics Say

"Angelmaker is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in ages...a joyful display of reckless, delightful invention, on a par with the rocket-powered novels of Neal Stephenson.... Ideas come zinging in from all corners, and do so with linguistic verve and tremendous humour. ... [I]t’s brilliantly entertaining, and the last hundred pages are pure, unhinged delight. What a splendid ride." (Patrick Ness, Guardian)
"It hangs together so brilliantly…It’s an ambitious, crowded, restless caper, cleverly told and utterly immune to precis…From its frantic oscillation between plausibility and fantasy emerges an odd, unique composite that deserves its own moniker. ...Angelmaker turns out to be a solid work of modern fantasy fiction, coupling credit-crunch anxiety with an understandable nostalgia for the mythical days of “good, wholesome, old-fashioned British crime." (James Purdon, Observer Guardian)
“Angelmaker is an intricate and brilliant piece of escapism, tipping its hat to the twisting plots of John Buchan and H Rider Haggard, the goggles-and-gauntlets Victoriana of the steampunk movement and the labyrinthine secret London’s of Peter Ackroyd and Iain Sinclair, while maintaining an originality, humour and verve all its author’s own… Angelmaker must have been huge fun to write, and it is huge fun to read.” (Daily Telegraph, five stars)
“Angelmaker is an entertaining tour-de-force that demands to be adored.” (Independent on Sunday)
“A big, gleefully absurd, huggable bear of a novel…Harkaway’s prose is playful and beguiling, with a keen satiric edge, and that makes all the difference.” (Slate)
“Sometimes I forget how transfixing it can be to read really great writing… A lot of books are fun to read for the plot; a smaller percentage displays this artful mastery of the language. And precious few manage to do both. Angelmaker falls into that last category. Harkaway plays the English language like a mad virtuoso: he hits all the right notes but isn’t above throwing in a bit of ornamentation and jazzing things up… Angelmaker is like a Quentin Tarantino movie written by Neil Gaiman: larger-than-life characters, dry British humour, a heavy dose of the weird, and a bit macabre; horrendous things wrapped up in gorgeous language.” (Wired)
"Harkaway shares Dickens’s eye for the ridiculous, as well as his ability to move from absurdity to pathos within the space of a sentence…Angelmaker is an adult version of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy…" (Literary Review)
“A dazzling story..a witty and wonderfully sprawling fantastical thriller.” (Irish Times - Summer Reads)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Just a bit too silly.

This is the first book I've listened to by Nick Harkaway and I didn't really know what to expect. The story is so ridiculous that I'm having trouble para-phrasing it. It's the story of a watch/clockwork maker (Joe) who gets embroiled in events that his crazy genius grandmother began when she embarked on a personal mission to make the world a better place through some kind of never really explained soundwaves (?) that mechanical bee's make when released into the world.

Joe gets thrown into a lot of different situations while being hunted down by various authorities and organisations and there is also a lot of background story about Joe's grandmother's lesbian lover (Edie) who happens to be a secret agent of some kind. This is to give the history of the mechanical devices and some background history of the characters. However the main problem I have with the story is that Joe is really hard to emphathise with. He's not an interesting character even though a lot of stuff happens to him. So I ended up not really caring whether he lived or died. And bizarrely his character changes with about a quarter to the book to go and he transforms into a gun waving gangster boss that his deceased father used to be. This shift doesn't endear him to me in any way nor did it's abruptness seem all that plausible.

I also found the writing style to be a bit awkward. It didn't seem to flow as well as some writers do. I am quite fond of Terry Pratchett books and I like fantasy and fiction. I think that Angelmaker could have been quite good if the way his characters reacted to events were a bit more believable and the listener could empathise with them more.

The performance of the book was really good and probably the main reason why I finished listening to it.
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- Lola

Bizarre!

What would have made Angelmaker better?

Angelmaker would have been better if it had never been published. It was too far from any reality I have ever experienced or imagined. I must be getting too old and crotchety. But this really was bizarre and was not enjoyable. Perhaps those who immerse themselves in bizarre fantasy might have a different view. I kept hoping it would get better but now I wish I had cut my losses and given up part way through the book. Or better that I hadn't bothered with this book at all - but I let myself be persuaded by a recent newspaper review by Australian writer James Bradley.


What do you think your next listen will be?

My next listen will NOT be anything by Nick Harkaway (or James Bradley for that matter). In fact I'll probably never read, or listen to, anything by either of them again. Now I'll look for something related to the world that I know or at least a world that I can imagine or relate to.


Have you listened to any of Daniel Weyman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I do not recall listening to this narrator previously. His performance was reasonable, given tne material he had to read from.


What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

This book evoked disappointment that I had wasted money buying this audiobook and then wasted time listening to it. I was also annoyed with myself for letting myself be swayed by a dud book review in a newspaper.


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- Michael

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-08-2012
  • Publisher: Random House AudioBooks