Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway - review by Hannah Rosefield

Hannah Rosefield

A Clockwork Beehive



William Heinemann 568pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

In a warehouse somewhere on the banks of the Thames, Joe Spork spends his days repairing clockwork and trying to forget that he is the son of legendary East End gangster Mathew ‘Tommy Gun’ Spork. But Edie Banister, octogenarian ex-spy, has other ideas. She is determined to involve Joe in the activation of a machine that has the potential to destroy mankind. Before he knows it, Joe is doing battle with a shape-shifting Eastern dictator, a mass murderer, a secret society dedicated to the artistic tenets of John Ruskin, and two unscrupulous government officials. With the help of Edie and the devastatingly attractive Polly Cradle, Joe Spork can avert apocalypse – but only if he embraces his identity as the heir to London’s criminal underworld.

Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker demands commitment: it is close to 600 pages, and has an enormous cast of characters and a plot that moves speedily and unpredictably. Generically, it defies categorisation, leaping between comedy, steampunk fantasy, romance, Bildungsroman, social critique and Second World War spy thriller. In another novel, this might

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