Just as blithe in its disregard of verisimilitude and generic constraint, Angelmaker flits between old-fashioned villains in London's East End and covert action in 1940s south Asia, arranging its whistlestop plot around the modern-day discovery of a weapon of mass destruction in the unlikely form of a skepful of clockwork bees ... A stingier novelist could find material here for a decade's output, but Harkaway is anything but stingy. The miracle is that it all hangs together so well ...a hyperactive bit of storytelling, but despite all the hybridity and genre-bending, Angelmaker doesn't feel gimmicky ...a solid work of modern fantasy fiction, coupling credit-crunch anxiety with an understandable nostalgia for the mythical days of 'good, wholesome, old-fashioned British crime.'
Harkaway plays the English language like a mad virtuoso: he hits all the right notes but isn’t above throwing in a bit of ornamentation and jazzing things up ... If you appreciate a well-constructed sentence and have a thing for fast-talking British muckety-mucks, then you should read Angelmaker for the writing alone ...like a Quentin Tarantino movie written by Neil Gaiman: larger-than-life characters, dry British humor, a heavy dose of the weird, and a bit macabre; horrendous things wrapped up in gorgeous language ...a great, action-packed book that doesn’t treat the reader like an idiot. Harkaway alludes to things and then goes off in some other direction, eventually circling back around to connect the dots.
...it [Angelmaker] fills our mundane globe with such a raft of hidden marvels and oddities that it transforms the known, miracle-devoid terrain into a marvelous and dangerous wonderland ... At the center of a large, entertaining cast of nonpareils and eccentrics, freaks and monsters, geniuses and idiots is one quite average, unassuming fellow... characters occupy a lively period from WWII to the present and frequent such outré venues... 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, a judo chop, and the lurid highlights reflecting off Mrs. Peel’s leather catsuit.
Joe is a hero, though an unwitting one — he remains in the dark about just what the hell is going on for the bulk of Angelmaker’s nearly 500 pages ...Harkaway’s prose is playful and beguiling, with a keen satiric edge, and that makes all the difference ...isn’t simply a funny writer; he adroitly uses humor to slide us gently into a given scene or character, and then invites us to settle in and root around a bit, the way you wiggle your toes once you've slipped on a comfortable boot ...written a pleasantly roomy book, a grand old manor house of a novel that sprawls and stretches and invites you to do likewise on any one of its richly tufted fainting couches ...deftly, enriches prose, warms us to characters, and causes the tightest plot thread to loosen agreeably.
Revealing the plot of Angelmaker doesn't adequately render its gleeful genre mashup, but here goes; Joe Spork is the clock-man. Asked to examine an insanely complex mechanism, he releases those mechanical bees and inadvertently triggers a doomsday machine ... Flashbacks to WWII-era spy stuff provide a rich backstory, explaining the steampunkish origins of the machine as well as a deadly game of good (the elderly assassin) versus evil (the fiend) ...the younger writer can hold his head high: Angelmaker is brilliant, wholly original, and a major-league hoot.
...stuffed-to-the-rafters romp through genres and eras ... Harkaway is the son of spy-thriller master John le Carré, but he has none of his father’s economy or world-weariness. Indeed, he takes a more-is-better approach...opens up as a sort of hard-boiled fantasy...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, but it’s a lot looser, and sometimes there’s too much of a good thing ...rich with good humor and neat twists—and you’ve got to love the self-doubting super-spy heroine, once a bit of a femme fatale, now a dotty oldster.
In Harkaway’s endlessly inventive second novel (after The Gone-Away World), Londoner Joe Spork has turned his back on his late father’s mobster legacy and become instead a clock repairman ... Perhaps inspired by the New Wave science fiction of Michael Moorcock, the London crime novels of Jake Arnott, and the spy fiction of John le Carré (the author’s father), the novel ends up being its own absurdist sendup of pulp story tropes and end-of-the-world scenarios ...narrative often threatens to go off the rails, Harkaway makes his novel great fun on every page.