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Company Town by Madeline Ashby
Cover Artist: Erik Mohr
Review by Gayle Surrette
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765382900
Date: 17 May 2016 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Twitter / Show Official Info /

Go Jung-hwa, Hwa for short, worked for Mistress Severine on New Arcadia. Hwa basically works as hired muscle to protecting sex workers. It wasn't much of a job but then Hwa was one of the very, very few totally human on New Arcadia; she had no implants or augmentations.

She was also very good at her job, which was why Daniel Síofra, head of Lynch security, tapped her to be the bodyguard and trainer for Zachariah Lynch's son, Joel. The money was good and, since her mother had just thrown her out, it seemed like a good move, or so her old boss told her. She did miss the women she'd previously guarded.

She enjoyed working with Joel. He listened and worked hard. The longer she worked for the company and interacted with the family and with her supervisor, Daniel, the more she began to think that more was going on below the surface than what you could see out in public.

Then the prostitutes she'd guarded began to be murdered one at a time. At first it seemed like random violence you'd expect on an oil rig. Then as the deaths continued, Hwa suspected a serial killer. Then she began to suspect a link to the Lynch family or their businesses.

The writing draws you in and the tension and mystery keep the pages turning. This really is a book that's hard to put down because you want to know what the heck is going on and why.

Hwa is a great character. She's got health problems and an abusive mother. Nonetheless, she's built a reputation that keeps her employed. Life is hard on New Arcadia for everyone except those with money. The setting is as much a part of the story as the people and the plot. The isolation of the city on an oil rig means that travel is limited and the characters are contained.

The ending itself, while somewhat satisfying, also opens up a lot of issues that were hinted at earlier but now have some major impacts that could shape what happens next. Since the novel wraps up all the threads it seem that this is a stand alone novel but there is definitely a lot to think about regarding technology in our lives and what the future might make of it.

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