Company Town by Madeline Ashby

company townCompany Town by Madeline Ashby was my first book by this author and it really took me by surprise.  A book set in the future and based entirely on a town surrounding and built out of an oil rig.  This is a harsh world and a somewhat grim landscape but also one with vast leaps forward in terms of technology – not really the sort of book that I would normally be entirely comfortable with and yet I thought it was excellent.  At it’s core this is a murder mystery with a twist in the tale and what makes it stand out from the crowd is the great characterisation and world building.

At the start of the story we’re introduced to Hwa who works as a bodyguard for the prostitutes on board the rig.  Strict regulations govern the sex worker trade but this doesn’t stop things from getting out of hand on occasion and Hwa is there try to prevent such occurences.  On top of that the girls that she protects are her friends, probably her only friends, which makes it all that much worse to come to terms with when Hwa accepts a job as bodyguard for the Lynch company heir.  By way of background, the rig suffered an explosion a few years earlier killing a lot of workers and has recently been overtaken by the Lynch Co who have their own plans in place.  Of course this is a time of unrest with any inhabitants with the means making a hasty departure.  For the less fortunate ones, such as Hwa, there is no means of escape and they simply have to make the best of their lives.  Joel, the Heir to the Lynch company seems to have been receiving death threats – hence the need for a new bodyguard.  At the same time it seems that a number of deaths start to occur on board the rig and the victims are all former friends of Hwa.  Something is seriously rotten in New Arcadia, a deranged killer stalks the decks killing prostitutes in an almost Ripper fashion and the entire town seems to be vulnerable to terrorist attack.

This is such a great combination of well thought out plot, excellent world creation and great characters that I was completely hooked.

To start with Hwa is a wonderful protagonist who I really enjoyed reading about.  What is really obvious is that Ashby knows how to put enough flesh on the bones of her characters to lend them credibility.  Hwa is a tough cookie and with just cause.  Born with Sturge Weber Syndrome and with a mother who refused to spend money doing anything about it (in a world where all sorts of augmentations, implants and other adaptations are available and used regularly by any and every one) Hwa has suffered a life of being different, ridiculed and looked down upon.  It’s certainly toughened her up.  Hwa is a fantastic combination of tough and prickly exterior protecting a bit of a vulnerable, softer core and I loved this about her.  In a world where outside appearances are all that seem to count Hwa cares about people.  She’s still genuine and being one of the few ‘organic’ residents left on the rig her lack of augmentation also mean that she’s immune to hackers which makes her a very attractive proposition to the Lynch corporation.

On top of this we have another stellar character in Daniel Siofra.  Siofra is a man of mystery, usually appearing in the right place at the right time and being Hwa’s boss he keeps an eye on her comings and goings.  You can probably deduce from this that Hwa and Siofra eventually become romantically involved which was as much a surprise to them as it was to me!  Let me be clear though, this is not a romantic novel but the relationship between Siofra and Hwa really packs an emotional punch and I loved that element to the story.

I can’t help looking at this review and thinking I’m giving very little away which makes me think that people will be scratching their heads about now and saying what is this book actually about!  Well, it’s an intriguing murder mystery with high tech gadgets set in an enclosed and somewhat claustrophobic environment that lends it a more chilling aspect and with a race to find the killer before things go to hell in a handcart.  I’ve probably not really cleared things up much with that statement but there it is.

For me this is just a winning story that has characters that I feel for, a world that I can easily picture, often grimy and frequently vicious, a plot line that makes you think it’s one thing and then turns that on it’s head in the most unexpected fashion and great writing.

In terms of criticisms – well, I did have one particular element of the story where I think I lost the plot a little bit and wasn’t quite sure what exactly had just gone on or whether the story had jumped somehow and I’d missed something.  There was also quite a bit going on and in that respect I think sometimes it was necessary to slow down a little in order to really absorb the latest revelation.  Other than that I thought this was a great read.

I have no hesitation in recommending Company Town, it’s a futuristic murder mystery with a sci fi setting and with extra intrigue ladled on top.

I received a copy through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion




24 Responses to “Company Town by Madeline Ashby”

  1. Carl V. Anderson

    I had thought this book was released a long time back as I remember seeing and really liking the cover online, but then I saw the hardcover in BN in the New Release area this past week.

    I like the concept of a gritty town built on an oil rig. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was really good. I didn’t know what to expect at first and in fact I didn’t really think it would be my thing but it was a very compelling read.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Tammy

    I have to read this vary soon, I have a copy waiting! Really happy that you loved it, it seems like I’ve been waiting YEARS for this to come out:-)

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hadn’t realised that this book has been in the offing for so long. I really did enjoy it and I’m so pleased I requested it now. At first I was a bit unsure but then I just thought I’d go for it – so glad I made that decision. I hope you enjoy and look forward to reading your thoughts on this one.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Carmen

    Great review, Lynn. Sounds like a book with many layers. I like those.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s a really good book – and even more because I really didn’t go in with any hype or raised expectations.
      Lynn 😀

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I understand and appreciate your desire not to give away too much of the plot, but rest assured that what you did NOT say sounded more than enticing anyway, so that I’ve added this title to my “next” list. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I thought this was an excellent read and I really enjoyed it. The plot was unexpected, the end was twisted in a way I never would have guessed and the main characters were great to read. I’d been keen to see what you think of this one.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I’m so happy to see you enjoyed this too. I totally loved it! The characters are great, and Hwa and Daniel had such a great relationship and so much chemistry. And that ending was so incredibly twisty, it really blew my mind 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It really blew my mind too! I must admit that I really didn’t see that ending. And Daniel and Hwa are such a great pair – I could easily read more from the pair of them.
      Lynn 😀

  6. sjhigbee

    I’m now going to see if I can track this one down… It sounds awesome:) Many thanks for the review!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was really good – I enjoyed it much more than I anticipated as I always pick up sci fi stories with a slight measure of dread – or fear – or both!
      Lynn 😀

  7. Danya @ Fine Print

    Oh my goodness, your review is making me want to read this one so badly Lynn! I was stubbornly ignoring it (because honestly, it didn’t sound or look like my type of book) but Hwa sounds fantastic and I like the sound of her relationship with Daniel too. 😉

    • @lynnsbooks

      Exactly – I didn’t think it sounded like my type of book either and yet I really enjoyed it. Hwa is such a good character and her relationship with Daniel was really subtle and yet excellently done and very readable. I think you’d like it.
      Lynn 😀

  8. Grace

    I can’t wait to read this one! I read Madeline Ashby’s vN and iD a while back and adored them.

    • @lynnsbooks

      This was great – I hadn’t read any by this author before so wasn’t sure what to expect and I was a bit worried in case it was really heavy on the sci fi but I thought it was brilliant.
      Lynn :d

  9. Ioana @ booksreenchanted

    Wonderful review! I had pre-ordered this, but it’s still sitting on my shelf under other piles… This is great motivation to excavate it and get to it already 🙂 Thank you!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really loved it – probably more than it comes across in the review. Really enjoyable.
      Lynn 😀

  10. So far so good… | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Company Town by Madeline Ashby […]

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    […] Company Town by Madeline Ashby […]

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    […] Ashby – Company Town.  Totally compelling reading.  Science fiction, futuristic and murder mystery all rolled into […]

  13. Hiding in plain sight! Hidden gems… | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Company Town by Madeline Ashby – Meet Hwa. One of the few in her community to forego bio-engineered enhancements, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig. But she’s an expert in the arts of self-defence, and she’s been charged with training the Family’s youngest, who has been receiving death threats – seemingly from another timeline. […]

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