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Angelmaker [Kindle Edition]

Nick Harkaway
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $9.61
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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 . . .


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“It’s hard to put a finger on exactly why Angelmaker is one of the year’s best books. Know this, though: it is.”
    —Niall Alexander, Tor.com

“Greetings to Joe Spork, the book world’s newest hero. He springs from the fertile, absurdist imagination of Harkaway in his follow-up to The Gone-Away World.”
   —Billy Heller, New York Post
 
“Brilliant, wholly original, and a major-league hoot.”
    —Adam Woog, The Seattle Times

“[Harkaway] manages to write surrealist adventure novels that feel both urgent and relevant. His novels are fun to read without seeming particularly frivolous, and beneath all the derring-do and shenanigans, there’s a low thrum of anxiety: everything and everyone you love could disappear at any moment. . . . Angelmaker is a truly impressive achievement.”
    —Emily St. John Mandel, The Millions
 
“A big, gleefully absurd, huggable bear of a novel. . . . A pleasantly roomy book, a grand old manor house of a novel that sprawls and stretches. . . . In passage after passage, Angelmaker opens up, making room for the reader, until we aren’t merely empathizing with Joe Spork’s plight but feeling it keenly. . . . All the more reason to applaud Harkaway for creating Joe Spork: not only like us but likable, a hero who serves not as a dark mirror but as a funhouse one.”
     —Glen Weldon, Slate 
 
“[A] gloriously uninhibited romp of a novel. . . . Harkaway has managed to recapture the lighthearted brio of an earlier age of precision entertainment, when the world was deemed to be perpetually teetering on the brink of Armageddon but always capable of being snatched back to safety with a quip, a wink, [and] a judo chop.”
    —Paul Di Filippo, Barnes and Noble Review 

“A lot of books are fun to read for the plot; a smaller percentage display this artful mastery of the language. And precious few manage to do both. Angelmaker, the second novel by British writer Nick Harkaway, falls into that last category. . . . This is not the sort of book I zip through, despite wanting to know what happens next. It’s the sort of book you want to let steep in your brain a bit before you take another taste.”
     —Jonathan Liu, Wired.com’s GeekDad blog

“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 Londons 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. . . . A fantasy espionage novel stuffed with energetic, elegant writing that bowls the reader along while reflecting profitably on the trends of the times. Gleefully nostalgic and firmly modern, hand-on-heart and tongue-in-cheek, this is as far as it could be from the wearied tropes that dominate so much of fantasy and SF. I can’t wait to see what Harkaway does next.”
     —Tim Martin, Daily Telegraph, (5 out of 5 stars)

“Harkaway’s celebrated debut, The Gone-Away World . . . was really just a warm up act—a prodigiously talented novelist stretching muscles that few other writers even possess—for this tour de force Dickensian bravura and genre-bending splendor. . . . This is a marvelous book, both sublimely intricate and compulsively readable.”
      —Bill Ott, Booklist (starred review)
 
“Harkaway keeps us guessing, traveling the edges between fantasy, sci-fi, the detective novel, pomo fiction and a good old-fashioned comedy of the sort that Jerome K. Jerome might have written had he had a ticking thingy instead of a boat as his prop. . . . His tale stands comparison to Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84.”
     —Kirkus (starred review)

“A long, wild journey through a London dream world. . . . With its bizarre scenarios and feverish wordiness, its huge cast of British eccentrics and the ark forces of paranoia and totalitarianism lurking everywhere, this novel recalls the works of Martin Amis and Will Self. Immense fun and quite exciting.”
    —Jim Coan, Library Journal

“A puzzle box of a novel as fascinating as the clockwork bees it contains, filled with intrigue, espionage and creative use of trains. As if that were not enough to win my literary affection, Harkaway went and gave me a raging crush on a fictional lawyer.”
     —Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus

“You are in for a treat, sort of like Dickens meets Mervyn Peake in a modern Mother London. The very best sort of odd.” 
   —William Gibson, author of Zero History
                       
“Nick Harkaway's novel is like a fractal: when examined at any scale, it reveals itself to be complex, fine-structured and ornately beautiful. And just like a fractal, all of this complexity and beauty derives from a powerful and elegant underlying idea.”
   —Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
 
“This brilliant, boundless mad genius of a book runs on its own frenetic energy, and bursts with infinite wit, inventive ambition and damn fine storytelling. You finish reading it in gape-mouthed awe and breathless admiration, having experienced something very special indeed.”
   —Matt Haig, author of The Radleys

“A joyously sprawling, elaborately plotted, endlessly entertaining novel filled with adventure, comedy, espionage, and romance, Angelmaker also deals with intriguing questions of free will and the nature of truth without stopping to take a breath. As if the book is made of clockwork, the pages turn themselves.”
   —Dexter Palmer, author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion

Praise from the U.K.

“A magnificent, literary, post-pulp triumph. . . . Angelmaker is an entertaining tour-de-force that demands to be adored.”
     —David Barnett, The Independent

“An ambitious, crowded, restless caper, cleverly told and utterly immune to précis. . . .  A solid work of modern fantasy fiction.”
     —James Purdon, The Observer

“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, if in rather more ironically diffident English form. Ideas come zinging in from all corners, and do so with linguistic verve and tremendous humour. . . . Once it gets going, it’s brilliantly entertaining, and the last hundred pages are pure, unhinged delight. What a splendid ride.”
     —Patrick Ness, The Guardian

“[The Gone-Away World] was a work of such glorious, exhaustive excess a part of me wondered if Harkaway would actually write again. I am profoundly glad that he has: Angelmaker is every bit as entertaining and imaginative. . . . Effervescent and witty. . . . Harkaway manages the ideal blend of paying homage to a very British sense of decency and fair play, while at the same time idolising the rule-breakers.”
     —Stuart Kelly, Scotsman on Sunday
 
“[Harkaway is] a rare kind of writer. . . . There is something elegantly nostalgic about Angelmaker, whether in the derring-do adventure of it, or the loving invocations of artisanship. . . . [Yet] it’s a gleefully post-modern book in its weaving together of genres with imagery from comic books, film and TV, and its richly imagined setting of a London with underground passages and secret markets.”
    —Susan Mansfield, The Scotsman

About the Author

Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall in 1972. He studied philosophy, sociology and politics at Clare College, Cambridge, and then worked in the film industry. His fiction debut was The Gone-Away World. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.
 
www.nickharkaway.com

Product Details

  • File Size: 2419 KB
  • Print Length: 498 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307743624
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 20, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IQZ7IG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,343 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Stunning February 18, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Angelmaker" by Nick Harkaway is such a densely written and intricately plotted work that my feelings about it are nearly exclusively positive (glowing, even), but I did find myself somewhat frustrated on occasion at its verboseness--the only negative I found within this novel. But there's no denying Harkaway is a gifted author and storyteller.

One of the many things that make this book not just your average spy thriller is that although it takes place primarily in contemporary London, all the gadgets and doo-dads are from an older time and they're clockwork-driven mysteries unto themselves. There are no James Bond-sey gadgets that will seem ridiculous in fifteen years. The mystique of the Apprehension Engine and all the rest is they are already far-fetched, but they're somehow believable because they are call backs to a time when things like craftsmanship and artisanship meant something. Not to be down on technology-age devices, but there's an allure to those things that had no microchips or electronics, things that someone made with delicate instruments they themselves also made. How did anyone get anything done back them? This book captures these ideas wonderfully, like clockwork.

From Joe Spork, the protagonist, to supporting characters with names like Rodney Titwhistle, Clarissa Foxglove, Arvin Cummerbund and Edie Banister, it's the little details in this book that truly give it shape. I kept expecting to turn the page and be introduced to a character named Fotheringay, perhaps a kindly, grey-haired, bespectacled old boy stuck at a middle rank in Her Majesty's Secret Service or something (sorry, but I love "The Prisoner").
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kraken? This book devours Kraken. February 6, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There seems to be a trend towards books with magical figures, underworld London types, absurdist escapism with a steam-punk noire flavor. In self-defense, the reader is forced to choose well written examples, and this is one.

What makes this interesting is the lead character, Joe Spork, and some of the asides, for example the lengthy description of the undertaking business from his friend, Billy. Spork is a clock maker/fixer, and the author takes you far enough into that world to be interesting. You come to emphasize with his mannerisms, and style. He is a good man whose grandpa and father were large figures, and his own strengths and goodness appear muted, perhaps only to himself.

The absurdism is funny, and that helps, too. Last year I read China Mieville's Kraken, which had a similar feel, but I found that book kind of dis-spiriting. This is better.

The author weaves strong characters with strange situations and in his best moments, illuminates some aspect of the human condition. In this case, the author takes on the idea that Truth can save human kind, if people can be forced to face it.. in this case through a doomsday device. By making you laugh, the author hides the fact that he has a serious side, and that he is talking about something, as the adventure unwinds.

The author also knows how to accelerate to a finish. Once you get into this world, the book takes off, and you find yourself fist pumping with excitement.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Secret Garden" for Adults February 6, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Think of the "Angelmaker" as a sort of shape-shifting novel, by parts sci-fi, adventure, comedy, and tragedy. It's essentially three connected stories stitched together, though not quite seamlessly.

The first story, and easily the best, introduces Joe Spork. The son of one of Britain's greatest criminals, he spends his life admiring his father but trying to follow his grandfather's straight-laced footsteps as a clockmaker. Joe wanders through a Victorian part of London that's become lost to the law-abiding, travelling with friends and acquaintances who are most decidedly different. This part is so quirky, so Marty Feldmanish type of off-the-wall loony, that you have to re-read some of the pages until you get the hang of it. To say Harkaway has a wicked sense of humour doesn't do him justice by half; anyone who can conceive of a dog with a single tooth and two glass eyes has a truly demented and tortured soul. And the test of the Waiting-Men-to-be is something you dare not read on the bus or in an airport.

The second story starts during WWII, and ushers in the gender-bending Edie and Frankie, a fledgling British spy and a genius French inventor who's been co-opted by a megalomaniacal Eastern tyrant to build a doomsday device. This is much darker than the first story, almost shocking in highlighting the villain's depravity. While it has its highpoints, it suffers by the jarring contrast.

The third story is the strange tale of Spork's revenge. It's a mix of the first two stories but pumped up on steroids. With his new girlfriend at his side, Spork blasts into action to save the world, and get a measure of vengeance in the bargain. Utterly manic and bizarre, it drifts too far into the realm of comic book ethos to be fully satisfying.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quirky romp that offers more than just fun April 27, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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 untimely end, despite the assistance of a girl with moxie, a vicious if blind elderly pug, a nonagenarian female super spy, the world's craftiest lawyer, his father's tommy gun and the best the London underworld has to offer?

Beneath the frenetic action, "Angelmaker" is about Joe's coming into himself and coming to terms with his family's history. Even while maintaining a light and farcical tone, Joe's emotional life and growth are affecting and along with Harkaway's interest in philosophical questions give the book greater resonance than might be expected from the jacket blurbs and a plot summary. The central emotional journey is framed with appealing considerations of such heavyweight questions as the nature of free will, the knowability and implications of absolute truth. Not to mention considerations of faith and morality. Thankfully Harkaway doesn't overplay his hand and manages to integrate these considerations into the plot and character development with appealing breeziness.

The only significant missteps in the book are unfortunately centered on Joe's love interest, Polly. Oftern she is a woman to be reckoned with and her appeal palpable. At other times, however, she is reduced to an adolescent male fantasy figure.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Harkaway so far
I've tried and failed to read two other Harkaway novels. They suffered from an overdose of precious wordplay. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Jim McVay
5.0 out of 5 stars Angelmaker is a "must read"
Nick Harkaway has written a work of extraordinary scope and depth. He has created a compelling world with complexity, depth, history, and rich characterization as well as... Read more
Published 28 days ago by biblioholic
3.0 out of 5 stars This book starts beautifully, with interesting characters and an...
This book starts beautifully, with interesting characters and an emerging plot that grips you with its potential. Harkaway does no how to chain words together, too. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic story!
Published 1 month ago by KlK
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb writing, impossible to put down
I almost stopped reading a few pages in, the prose was too heavy, trying to be too clever. Books that start this way typical drag on and ultimately fail. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Traveller
2.0 out of 5 stars Over stuffed
After reading, and loving, his most recent novel, Tiger Man, I wanted to read more by Harkaway. The only thing keeping me going in this novel is an interesting premise and the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Distra
5.0 out of 5 stars Be patient
This book takes a while, but it will be so many different books along the way. I read it for a book club and while it took a while at the beginning, somewhere in the middle I... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Emily
2.0 out of 5 stars I my disappointment verged on despair
I my disappointment verged on despair. If you pick up this book because you fell in love with The Gone Away World, walk away. I mean it. You will only find heartbreak here.
Published 2 months ago by Carla Lopez
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
gripping, detailed, innovative... sopranos meets electric blue angels
Published 2 months ago by Habu
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant alternative steampunk novel
I enjoyed this book immensely. The sweep of action. good writing, well drawn and engaging characters combined with an interesting back story all led to a most enjoyable read. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Keith Frampton
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More About the Author

Nick Harkaway was born in 1972, a distinction he shares with Carmen Electra (allegedly), a collection of indifferent wines, Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album, and a company which makes guttering in Pietermaritzburg. He is tall and has a shaggy and unkempt look about him which even the best grooming products cannot entirely erase. His eyebrows were at one time wanted on a charge of ruckus and affray in the state of Utah, but this unhappy passage has now been resolved.

He is the author of The Gone-Away World, Angelmaker (and the accompanying e-short, Edie Investigates), and the non-fiction book The Blind Giant. His third novel, presently untitled, will appear in 2014. BBC Books have also commissioned him to write a Doctor Who story for the Time Trips series to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the show.

He likes: Italian red wine, unlikely clothes, Chinese food, good-humoured anecdotes, Argentine Tango, Swiss cheese, American burgers, carving skis, alpine snowboards, P G Wodehouse, Alexandre Dumas, and blonde human rights lawyers. Well, all right, one blonde human rights lawyer in particular, to whom he is married, and with whom he has two perilous infants.

He does not like shellfish. They look at you with those eyes.

He has in his time studied a variety of martial arts, and can confidently claim to be the worst open-handed pugilist on the face of this green Earth.

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