Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

London clockmaker Joe Spork is a really nice guy. (He can't help it that his father was an infamous criminal.) Joe is called on to repair an ingenious clockwork book-type thing. The device is called Angelmaker because it makes angels out of men. It is also referred to as the Apprehension Engine. It may save the world... or possibly destroy it. To recap: "It would seem that at some time between 1945 and 1980, Joe's grandfather and grandmother built a bee-machine which is either a rocket ship, a mobile sculpture, or a brain-melting lie detector."

There are many larger-than-life characters in Nick Harkaway's tale of derring do, but my favourite is Edie Banister. She's a lesbian former superspy, nearing 90 years old but still able to kick ass when necessary. And it is necessary, because an insane despot is trying to become one with god by destroying the planet. Against his better judgment, Joe finds himself hurtling towards a "night of misrule." Swarms of mechanical bees are on their way. Angelmaker is a metaphysical thriller. Wow!

If you enjoy steampunk, this is for you, because, with all the clockwork technology, it has that feel. The setting goes back and forth between present-day England and global spy intrigue after WWII. Some parts, set in a fantastical submarine in the 1940s, bring Jules Verne to mind. Angelmaker also reminded me very much of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

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