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The Company Man [Kindle Edition]

Robert Jackson Bennett
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.99
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $4.00 (29%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

The year is 1919.

The McNaughton Corporation is the pinnacle of American industry. They built the guns that won the Great War before it even began. They built the airships that tie the world together. And, above all, they built Evesden-a shining metropolis, the best that the world has to offer.

But something is rotten at the heart of the city. Deep underground, a trolley car pulls into a station with eleven dead bodies inside. Four minutes before, the victims were seen boarding at the previous station. Eleven men butchered by hand in the blink of an eye. All are dead. And all are union.

Now, one man, Cyril Hayes, must fix this. There is a dark secret behind the inventions of McNaughton and with a war brewing between the executives and the workers, the truth must be discovered before the whole city burns. Caught between the union and the company, between the police and the victims, Hayes must uncover the mystery before it kills him.


Editorial Reviews

Review

[A] gritty crime thriller' SUN

Review

[A] gritty crime thriller' SUN

Product Details

  • File Size: 667 KB
  • Print Length: 468 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1841498629
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1 edition (April 11, 2011)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0047Y0FIM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,567 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An odd mixture of sf, noir, and social realism April 14, 2011
Format:Paperback
If Upton Sinclair and Philip K. Dick had collaborated to write a Sam Spade novel, they might have produced The Company Man. Poor working conditions and inadequate wages cause conflict between labor and management, leading to murders in the slums that are investigated by a noir-coated private detective, and it all takes place in an alternate history where mysterious machinery seem to be speaking to those who toil or dwell beneath a vast city. I'm not sure when I've read a science fiction novel quite as odd as The Company Man.

The company in question is McNaughton Western Foundry Corp. which, by 1919 (when the novel takes place) has become the world leader in technology. It is so powerful that it averted World War I by threatening to cut off production of products (like airships) that could be used militarily. Credit for McNaughton's innovative technological breakthroughs is given to Lawrence Kulahee, an eccentric inventor who died in 1904. The company continued to grow despite his death, as did the former fishing village of Evesden, near Puget Sound, now a thriving metropolis with smokestacks and slums and dozens of murders each month. One of the murders -- of a man found floating in a canal -- prompts police detective Garvey to contact Cyril Hayes, who plays a murky role in McNaughton's security force. As Hayes tries to determine whether the nameless corpse is affiliated with McNaughton, he's assigned to investigate the union movement, which is suspected of sabotaging the corporation's factories. The lovely Samantha Fairbanks is asked to keep an eye on Hayes, who has a problem with opium and alcohol. Notwithstanding his addictions, Hayes has an unusual talent: he can establish a telepathic connection with people that grows stronger the longer he's in contact with them.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sci-Fi Noir Falters in Final Third June 6, 2011
Format:Paperback
I have to admit, this book's gumshoe pulp fiction-style cover art caught my attention immediately. And once I skimmed the jacket copy and realized that it had a science-fiction element to it, I was hooked. The story takes place in 1919, in a world where a single company based on the coast of Washington State has developed leading technology in every field important to mankind. From airships to advanced weaponry to wireless transmitters, the McNaughton Corporation is powerful enough to direct the course of nation-states. An entire metropolis has risen around its humble initial facilities, and Evesden is now the largest city in the world.

However, despite the untold power and wealth residing in the company, the city has a seedy and destitute side to it. And down those dark streets walks the company's odd fixer Cyril Hayes. He possesses the power to create a kind of telepathic bond with anyone he spends time with, eventually being able to charm them and more or less read their thoughts. In the past he's ferreted out industrial spies and secret-sellers, and now he's trying to figure out both how and why a trolly car of eleven unionists pulled into a station with everyone on board completely slaughtered. Helping him is his new organizer/researcher/librarian/assistant, Ms. Fairbanks, and together with Cyril's policeman friend, Detective Garvey, they form a very odd heroic trio.

Unfortunately, about halfway through, the inventiveness starts to wear thin on the book, and the supernatural element starts to become more and more prominent. The mystery of the union murders starts to shift into a kind of X-Files conspiracy and before too long, the hint of alien mumbo-jumbo starts to poke though.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk Noir July 8, 2011
Format:Paperback
Bennett's sophomore novel is a steampunk noir standalone that takes place in an alternate Western Washington of 1919 where airships rule the sky and World War I never happened. The company in question is McNoughton Western Foundary Corporation, and the man is Hayes--a skinny version of Chandler's famous Philip Marlowe character. Hayes has been hired to keep tabs on the union men. He is a man with "no badge, no gun, no pension, and no allegiance to the city or any jurisdiction" (pg. 15). Hayes and police detective Garvey, team up with Samantha (a woman hired by the company to keep tabs on Hayes) to solve the union problem and instead uncover an ancient alien sentient machine that has the answers about how to save humanity from certain destruction.

While Hayes is a cliché character (a haunted, addicted investigator running from his own past) with cliché actions ("Hayes would pull his face down into his collar and merge with the nearest group of people" pg. 252), Bennett draws a beautiful landscape with a juxtaposition between the steamy, socialist-type workers of the underground and the cold, straight-lined world above. The union-busting theme is one echoed in the news today, and there are even nods to Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and The Bible in Bennett's novel.

This is an excellent novel that would entertain mystery and sci-fi fans, or anyone who just wanted a really good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, Dark, Steam-Powered Noir May 25, 2011
By Kamagi
Format:Paperback
This book really is a world of its own. It sucks you in from page one and manages to immerse you into the fictional town of Evesden, Washington and the main protagonist, Cyril Hayes. Bennett manages to capture the essence of the steam age perfectly in Evesden, a town ruled by the powerhouse industry of McNaughton and all its seemingly-impossible inventions. True to the industry age, Evesden is a dirty place overpopulated with desperate workers who form unions to go against the industry of McNaughton. We have children starving in streets side-by-side with fantastical inventions used to run the lights, the tram, everything. It only takes a few short pages of explanation here and there for the reader to quickly grasp the basics of the city of Evesden, and more and more unfold details and secrets unfold as the story goes along.

The narrative juggles between Hayes and his assistant, Samantha, as well as his cop-friend Garvey. Each of them had ups and downs for me. Hayes especially has many faults side-by-side with his genius--I found myself being annoyed with him and utterly intrigued by him at the same time. Hayes has a unique gift for "reading" people which can breech into genuine mind-reading, and McNaughton uses him to investigate any threats against its company. Hayes is a bit of an eccentric, a wild card, and an intriguing mystery from the beginning. He fits the anti-hero personality almost too well and from the beginning he seems to fall deeper and deeper into trouble both externally and internally--even as Hayes quickly becomes involved in the great mystery of the story his health rapidly deteriorates, which adds additional trouble. Compared to Hayes, Samantha seemed rather flat to me, and Garvey while more interesting still did not have much mystery around him.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction, Fantasy, Noir -- Great Read
The Company Man is a science fiction, fantasy, noir piece set in an alternate 1919/1920's America. It is another fantastic genre bender from Robert Jackson Bennett. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Paul Cardullo
5.0 out of 5 stars Can One Man Make a Difference?
Cyril Hayes is just one man who works for McNaughton but he's an alcoholic and addicted to drugs. His drug of choice is opium which he uses to drown out the impressions and... Read more
Published 12 months ago by RE Krause
4.0 out of 5 stars Really Enjoying Bennett
This is my third RJB book this year and I am enjoying them a great deal. Each is very different and none is much like anything else I have read. Keep 'em coming.
Published 16 months ago by James T. Abbott
5.0 out of 5 stars Dieselpunk, Sci-fi, Noir
I just finished "The Company Man", and I am amazed. Set in an alternate 1919-1920, plenty of airships and fantastical machines which gives it an almost Steampunk/Dieselpunk feel,... Read more
Published 21 months ago by J. Best
3.0 out of 5 stars Noir Dystopia Mystery
While the character development within this novel is very good, the dystopia and noir of the novel is very depressing. Read more
Published on August 10, 2012 by Cygnet
2.0 out of 5 stars Not good company
It's not yet 1920 but electric cars, airships and broadcast power are all commonplace, thanks to the amazing inventions of a backwoods genius. Read more
Published on July 8, 2012 by Robert F O'Connor
3.0 out of 5 stars First Half Good, then Falters
This book takes place in an alternative history. It is 1919 and the McNaughton Corp has become the world's technological leader. Read more
Published on May 18, 2012 by Mary E. Young
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery, Magic and Imagination
A weird, scary, mystical, unbelievable story that will keep you turning pages. A story you will thoroughly enjoy, but will not always understand what you are reading. Read more
Published on December 16, 2011 by The Golden Reviewer
4.0 out of 5 stars timely dark gripping alternative historical investigative thriller
By 1919, Evesdon, Washington is the headquarters of the McNaughton Western Foundry Corp. The firm is the world's mot powerful company due to the technological genius of the late... Read more
Published on April 18, 2011 by Harriet Klausner
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More About the Author

Robert Jackson Bennett was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but grew up in Katy, Texas. His interest in writing came from hearing about the books his older brother was reading and then attempting to mimic them on paper, though when his brother became interested in Stephen King and the stories written for Robert's elementary school class developed a correspondingly high body count it did cause something of a ruckus. He later attended the University of Texas at Austin and, like a lot of its alumni, was unable to leave the charms of the city and resides there currently. His first novel is "Mr. Shivers."

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