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The Company Man

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  875 ratings  ·  114 reviews
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
Paperback, 464 pages
Published April 11th 2011 by Orbit (first published October 23rd 2009)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  875 ratings  ·  114 reviews

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May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's funny how things come together sometimes, isn't it? I was keeping an eye out for Bennett's newest book when I discovered his sophomore book, a noir-magical realism kind of thing. I'd also been reading Lost New York and browsing my way through NYC Public Library's online photo collection, enjoying the feel of times gone past in the big city. Then on Facebook, someone posted a link of new Youtube video, speed-corrected and sound-added to footage from a 1911 Swedish documentary in NYC:

Chris Matney
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure who gave me this book, but the premise seemed intriguing. A mystery that promises a bit of steampunk atmosphere set in an alternate America of 1919 where the McNaughton Corporation has become so powerful as almost be their own nation.

Without giving away the plot, what I liked about the book were the characters - Hayes, Gavey and Samantha. They were interesting, quirky and unpredictable. While the dialog was weak in points, the development of the primary relationships and the
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've been talking about this book a lot, because the premise is so utterly up my alley and I pretty much stan RJB's concepts. So, in a nutshell: In an alternate-universe dieselpunk 1919, a staggeringly powerful corporation named McNoughton has achieved prominence due to their world-changing inventions. They send their 'company man' -- Cyril Hayes, special agent, investigator, problem-solver, fixer, and psychic empath -- to investigate a slew of union murders, lest the company/union tensions ...more
Blood Rose Books
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Robert Jackson Bennett, takes us to a 1920s world, where the one company controls everything, and the thoughts of a workers turn unionization to help protect their rights but this company will to anything to make sure this does not happen.

It is nearing the end of 1919, the world is controlled by the ever present McNaughton company. McNaughton is responsible for every big and desirable invention that has happened in the last 25 or more years, but at what cost? They have created the beautiful city
Jeremy Hurd-McKenney
This book vaguely floats through a number of genres--is it a mystery? noire? steampunk? sci-fi?--without fully committing to one, which makes for a spastic storyline that cannot stay in place long enough to engage me in the storyline. The charcacters are pretty one dimensional, as is the fictional mega-city of Evesden, Washington. The ending was the worst kind of cop out, resorting to unsatisfying cliche, and of course, an opening for a sequel. I won't read it, because I'm not entirely certain ...more
Jeff Raymond
I continue to be very hot and cold with Robert Jackson Bennett. In The Company Man, a sort of techno-futuristic mystery of sorts, I just wish the first 4/5ths of the book were as good as the last 1/5th. Instead, we get a lot of meandery worldbuilding with a drip-drip-drip of real detail until things really come together in the final scenes and begin to make sense. Ultimately, I did not love this, and much of it was a bit of a slog as opposed to an enjoyable experience - I just want to read ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was like reading a film noir, which was very enjoyable. Read this for book club, not something I would have picked out on my own most likely. I did get a little lost in the plot at some points during this book and there were parts that felt a bit unnecessary. I think this could have easily been shorter. I kind of wanted to know more about the unions and their goals and what they were doing to achieve them, etc, as opposed to just knowing that there were unions and they were fighting ...more
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heres a pleasant surprise: a detective style film noir, set in the late 1910s but in an alternate world. A world of gangsters and the Union, in the fictional American city of Evesden, with worn-down detectives and corrupt business. And airships!

In this post-Great War world we have gruff detective Donald Garvey and his slim blonde colleague, Cyril Hayes, who works for The McNaughton Corporation, the Microsoft of its age. Hayes is a washed out alcoholic who deals with the Corporations dirty
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great complex characters. Hayes is the classic, troubled anti-hero but he's also eccentric and profoundly interesting. His unique ability was very cool and I liked the way it was used in the story. Garvey is the rogue cop who will stop at nothing until a case is solved. Bennett crafts an intriguing and entertaining cast of characters which added to the story immensely.
Intricate plot that builds upon itself and kept me guessing. The mystery aspect is top notch. I liked the idea of the
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm surprised by the lower ratings this novel is getting. I thought it was unique, well-written, had great characters, and a very interesting plot. I've enjoyed everything Bennett has written and look forward to more in the future.
Aileen M
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
The ending was a bit weak, but the rest of the book was excellent.
Branko Matijašević
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Maybe the best writer I have ever read. Just has something I have never found anywhere else.
Jaime Moyer
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
I wanted to read this book because it covers the same time period I'm writing in, and I wanted to see what the author had done with it. It didn't take long for me to realize that the world Robert Bennett is writing about bears little resemblance to the America of 1919 that I know.

And having read this entire book, I still don't know what to think about it. There were so many cool things that I liked, so many little twists and turns. The world felt right, cohesive, and the characters fit well
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit) begins in 1919 as a trolley car filled with eleven factory workers dead inside of it, rolls into a station. All were alive when they entered the trolley and all were union workers. The eponymous investigator works for the McNaughton Corporation, the powerful and mysterious entity running the United States from the capitol city of Evesden, located in a Pacific Northwest very different from the one we know. An engaging, noirish mystery, the book ...more
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Company Man is a solid book set in an amazingly vivid world with a complex, thought provoking plot and its yet another book by Bennett that refuses to fit into any one genre labeled box. Bennett is an author to watch.

Read my full review here:
Apr 09, 2011 marked it as tried-but-not-for-me
another well reviewed book that has a combination of so-so content as interest goes and unremarkable style to grab me
Oct 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars -- a gritty neo-noir-ish steampunk-esque (kind of? not really? did they have subways in our 1919? update: I just looked it up and they did) mystery in a city ruled by a corporation. All the adjectives in that summary might give you a hint that this is a bit of a genre-bending tale and pretty hard to pin down. On the one hand, it's like every book where a giant corporation might have shady intentions, and on another hand, it's like a Dashiell Hammett book set in an alternate 1919. At ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it
A novel based in an alternative reality, a city called Evesden, an industrial power located in the Pacific Northwest. The novel's denouement veers into Sci-Fi, after masking itself as an old fashioned, hard boiled crime noir. The Sci-Fi turn does not do the first two thirds of the novel justice, and is a bit of a let down. I would have liked to read more about the founding and rise of the city of Evesden, which compares to Chabon's Sitka, Alaska in Yiddish Policemen's Union. However, a more apt ...more
I didn't understand the point of this book.
that happens to me once in a while. It's either way over my head, not in my universe, or I missed something.
the writing was uneven in this book. The beginning was pedestrian (looked it up): flat.
then it picked up. The middle is mostly very good writing.
But I'm not sure what was the message or point of this book. It wasn't nihilistic and at the end, I suppose something hopeful had happened.
But I didn't get it.
If this an allegory, that explains it all. Me
Seizure Romero
"You can love your job, but that doesn't mean it loves you. You can love your city and you can love your country and your people, but they don't love you back. They're just things. Things that get too big and one day they just scrape you off their back. They don't need you."
--Det. Donald Garvey, The Company Man, p.303
Trent Baker
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I am not gonna lie, I found this book pretty rough going. It picks up some towards the latter quarter of the book, but the journey there was quite a slog. This book, in my opinion, was mostly noir mystery with a dash of science fiction and steampunk and I don't think noir is one of Bennett's strengths.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Luckily, I started with Bennetts City of Stairs trilogy. I loved those books, and American Elsewhere . This novel, not so much. Its basically (view spoiler). Also, it was dreadfully in need of editing. If youre going to attempt a hardboiled mystery, you should hew to the spare writing style of such novels. Streamlined. ...more
John Conte
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow build, great writing,excellent ending, powerful message

There is a lot happening in this book. It takes a while to get to the payoff, but when you're there it sings. Strong message that is applicable to today.
Kenneth Flusche
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The year is 1919 but the world is not my world. The year could be 1961 and could end forever. Well this one hovered between a 3 or 4 star. Well rounded characters, Very gray, nothing clear between good and evil. Then boom the curtains rise, the city burns and it earns a 5.
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Its like detective noir meets ... Max Gladstone? China Mieville? Dragons of Babel? It has that same gritty, new-age feel, and I even like it despite its allusions to the oh so trendy (at least at the time of writing this) steampunkery. Its neato.
Mar 23, 2020 rated it liked it
I didnt enjoy this as much as I enjoyed The Troupe but it had the same slightly out of time style and it seemed to me that the storyline was a lot more ambitious. It could have been a little tighter (I felt) as there were points when it lost my attention a little. ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Almost any description of this book will be a spoiler. The less you know going in, the better.

Having said that, the book feels incomplete, a bit rushed. There are mysteries that could be been explored better.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really loved the first 2/3rd or so; solid 5 stars. The ending wasn't BAD, but just didn't resonate as much with me as the beginning, so averaged out at 4.
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Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 ...more

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