Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Zany, quirky, and enigmatic-- a very fun and unusual adventure.
This novel reads like a combination of Neil Gaiman, Alan Kurzweil, and Gail Carriger.
Joe Spork, a clockmaker, is in his 30s-- a quiet, kind, concentrated type of man. He runs the old clock shop his grandfather Daniel started in London. Joe worries about paying his taxes on time and treating women with more respect than his loutish friend Billy. He tries very hard to distance himself from the legacy of his dad, Mathew, a gangster who ran the secret underworld Night Market.
Joe gets snared in intrigue when Billy introduces him to client Edie Bannister, an old woman with a bad-breathed, blind pug named Bastion (who gets interior monologues from time to time). Edit has Joe work on repair jobs, including a clockwork device that is part book-- and part world-changing mechanical beehive. This is the Angelmaker, aka Apprehension Machine.
The story goes back and forth between the present-day troubles Joe has with government types and creepy religious/craftsman fundamentalists and Edie's youth (her special agent training, heroic transgender-disguised rescue, bonus baby elephant...).
There is a lot of the bizarre in the plot, and I'm sure I missed some of the twists and turns, but I enjoyed the quirky characters an over-the-top adventure. Perhaps my favorites, aside from Edie's training days above the  steampunk codebreaking train the "Ada Lovelace", were the scenes with Mercer Cradle, lawyer extraordinaire, and the smart and sexy Polly. 

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