Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. Book Review

ANGELMAKER by Nick Harkaway.

William Heinemann. £12.99.

Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.

Joe Spork, the rather ordinary and definitely straight-laced son of the known gangster Matthew “Tommy Gun” Spork, lives a quiet life in his grandfather’s footsteps as an artisan, specialising in the repair and maintenance of clockwork and other bespoke mechanical items. It is an unusual profession perhaps, but then Joe was careful to take after his grandfather rather than his father, whose lifestyle has forever affected Joe’s behaviour. Unfortunately for young Spork, a new client with a device that threatens the very existence of humanity upheaves his quite life and forces him to confront the darker and formerly hidden aspects of his personality.

Meanwhile, Edie Banister, former superspy turned pensioner, and her decrepit dog Bastion, find themselves at the wrong end of as assassination order. It is only Edie’s years of experience and unwillingness to pass on quietly that get them out of it. On the run and somewhat unknowingly heading towards confrontation with an old enemy, Edie reminisces over a life filled with triumph and regret, from undercover sleuthing to falling in love, and the reader slowly uncovers the reasons for why her story is entangled with that of Joe Spork.

Harkaway writes with a fantastically humorous tone. An intelligent wit accompanies us through even the darkest moments of what is a decidedly noir tale, and so the book and all of its characters, despite the sometimes far-fetched nature of the story, feels so decidedly real that I spent the next several days after reading it seeing conspiracy in everything and listening to the imaginary sound of clocks ticking and bees humming. I’m not sure how you would categorise this book – noir detective thriller meets black comedy perhaps – but the intrigue provides a need to read on and the characters are wonderfully rendered providing a richness that elevates Angelmaker from a good read to a great read.