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The Company Man Paperback – April 11, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

[A] gritty crime thriller' SUN

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.
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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: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By TChris TOP 500 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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I just finished reading Robert Jackson Bennett's "The Company Man".

It is a science fiction of a different bent. A combination of SCI FI, gritty noir, and almost steampunk. It takes place around 1920 on the west coast of American in a city fueled by fantastic technologies but mired in poverty and dark secrets. While this is an alternate history story, it is written a lot like the old 1930's and 40's SCI FI, social philosophy, and detective novels/movies many of us grew up on. The story has a nostalgic feeling that is overshadowed with knowledge from today. The reader finds herself sometimes a step ahead of the book's characters based on what we know today, but then deliciously falls behind the characters' understanding as the plot progresses and new twists unfold.

The three main characters in the book are very intelligent and special. They are definitely a product of their times. They exhibit what I would call an old fashion sense of honor and romantic vision, while still fighting their own internal demons. The main character of the three (though all are dominant to the story) is uniquely gifted and terribly tortured by this gift. The secondary characters are of course less resolved, but still distinct. And the bad guys have many grey edges.

The plot is convoluted but never confusing. While I figured out where some things were headed, I still found myself surprised and happily confounded. There are internal and external battles, moments of great sadness, horror, and death, but also a theme of strong friendships, duty, honor. And Mr Bennett's poetic style of writing, his beautifully descriptive prose, overlays wonderfully over the entire setting. I won't forget this book, these characters, this city, or this world any time soon.

A different but fantastic read. I loved it.
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