The Company Man
Robert Jackson Bennett
Orbit, Apr 11 2011, $13.99
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 Lawrence Kulahee. Countries bow to McNaughton or face the threat of losing their needed products.
However, the fishing village of Evesdon has not easily turned into a Puget Sound mega-metropolis. Pollution and homicide are major byproducts of the industrial growth. When a John Doe is pulled from a canal, EPD police detective Garvey asks McNaughton security operative Cyril Hayes to assist. Hayes is already investigating industrial sabotage that many believe the active union movement is behind. He wonders if the dead floater is a McNaughton employee, a union grunt or nobody of importance. Samantha Fairbanks is assigned to keep Hayes clean as he works the investigation because the agent is addicted to opium and alcohol. Hayes has paranormal telepathic skills with individuals he knows, which may come in handy as those working the machines insist the machinery talks.
Putting aside the homage to Holmes, The Company Man is a timely dark gripping alternative historical investigative thriller. Each of the lead trio is fully developed, but Hayes is the one who stands out. Ironically the two males who have seen the worst of humanity cherish their still innocent female partner. Although the story line starts slow as Robert Jackson Bennett establishes his polluted world, readers will enjoy a walk on the darkest side with a flicker of hope throughout.