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The Company Man Paperback – April 11, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1 edition (April 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316054704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316054706
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #551,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

[A] gritty crime thriller' SUN --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert Jackson Bennett was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, the Sydney J. Bounds Award, and an Edgar Award, he is the author of the novels Mr. Shivers, The Company Man, The Troupe, and American Elsewhere. Find out more about the author at www.robertjacksonbennett.com.

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."

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on 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 By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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 By T. Fleming on 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 By Kamagi on May 25, 2011
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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