by Nick Harkaway - 5 stars
A deranged little lunatic of a book that deals with the preposterous yet never becomes ridiculous and is, instead, a pure joy from start to finish.
Joe Spork is a quiet, law-abiding clockmaker, just like his grandad, Daniel. He made a promise to his Dad, you see, that he wouldn't grow up to be like his old man - Mathew Spork, King of the London criminal world.
Sadly for Joe, he soon discovers that even if he keeps his head down, lives an honest life and abides by the law, "the law might not abide by him" and he's soon up to his neck in mechanical bees, strange religious orders, a maniacal former dictator, shadowy Government organisations, serial killers and octagenarian superspies. And it might just be time for him to be more like Dad after all.
With a brilliant cast of characters (I particularly loved Polly Cradle and Edie Banister), a wonderful sense of pace that never rushed itself but never dragged, an ability to imbue the humdrum and the downright seedy with a sense of magic, a clever plot and a wonderful way with words, I loved the hell out of this.
I shall be stood in my bedroom mirror later, trying to be more like Polly, and might have to start giving my friends and neighbours gangster nicknames.