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Review: Angelmaker, By Nick Harkaway
This is a complicated story in which every single detail is there for a reason, yet it has a heart.

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
William Heinemann, 576 pp.

Some stories are delightful when they are told well, no matter how often we have heard them. The patient man is driven to become the hero; the villains will fail because they cannot stop over-reaching. Both of these say something about what it is to be human, to have limits and to make choices. The same is true of the story of the weapon too dreadful to use, or the knowledge that our minds cannot hold and remain sane.

In Angelmaker, clockmaker Joe is the son of a gangster whose Tommy gun ruled London crime, and the grandson of a bisexual scientist whose gadgets, she estimated, turned the tide of the Second World War a fraction. Joe has tried to set his legacies aside and just work with his hands. Then he mends the wrong arcane gadget, and his life turns to hell, pursued by the organs of the state and a mysterious cult of veiled men.

Meanwhile, aged superspy Edie Bannister remembers her glory days. She has her reasons for putting Joe in harm's way. She spent her career fighting Shem, the opium khan, and thinks him long dead; yet the men in veils walk and fight like him.

For the rest of the review

The Independent