If you are looking for a book that immerses you in a different world, this may appeal to you. It’s set in present day London, but imagines a slightly different past — one where a secret society of John Ruskin acolytes have long been helping the English government in spycraft. The protagonist of the novel is Joe Spork, who is currently a quiet guy who repairs antique machines and watches. But he grew up in the London underworld, because his father was a big time crook. He gets pulled into a Big Mess — possibly the end of the world being triggered by mechanical bees, and the British equivalent of the CIA wants him. There’s lots of fanciful detail in this book — an elderly pug with two glass eyes, a handmade locomotive — and it’s also very angry about the state of the world now, especially they way the British government has turned against its own citizens, denying them the rule of law when terrorism is suggested. It is a long novel, so you have to be ready to really dig into this story.
By Nick Harkaway