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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: #638,828 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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Each is very different and none is much like anything else I have read.
James T. Abbott
The elements of it seemed too few and far apart, but it came together nicely within the context of the story.
Cygnet
It's a science fiction mystery that I totally enjoyed and recommend highly.
RE Krause

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert F O'Connor on July 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
It's not yet 1920 but electric cars, airships and broadcast power are all commonplace, thanks to the amazing inventions of a backwoods genius. Evesden, once a small fishing village in the Pacific Northwest, is now the economic powerhouse of the world, a magnet for workers, migrants and criminals. The McNaughton Company runs Evesden, owns Evesden, and is riding high on its patents and the power that comes from ending the Great War with superweapons. But not even this mighty company can understand how all the passengers on a trolley-car can be slaughtered between stops, in a space of minutes.

Cyril Hayes is the Company Man of the title: an expatriate Englishman, a fixer and finder-out of things forgotten, very much out place in the factories and slums of Evesden. His connection with the McNaughton Company means he can brush aside the local police to investigate the killings, and his strange ability - an empathy bordering on telepathy - means he's likely to get the job done quicker.

The Company Man is a kind of mix of steampunk and film noir: along with Hayes, the hard-drinking private detective, there is a slightly bent but basically decent copper and an ingenue secretary. Between them they find out the Company's terrible secret and the true source of its power. For me this was the chief disappointment in the book: a literal deus ex machina that gives an explanation but little satisfaction. And while Bennet demonstrates a kind of noir-ish poetry in his writing at times, the book is marred by occasional clumsiness: a character watching headlights fade into the distance, for example. I enjoyed The Company Man but I found its premises hard to accept - and this is an important factor in genre fiction: you can make the premises as outrageous as you like, but you have to sell them. In many ways, by trying to solve all the book's mysteries (with that mechanical god) Bennet undermines it, and the various genres it borrows from.

fractalogic.wordpress.com
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