This is a noir, cyber-punk, mystery and has a lot of great ideas jammed into it, but I don’t think the execution is quite there. Ashby does play a bit with the noir tropes, reversing roles and changing the tone to be a bit more humorous and I liked that quite a bit, however there’s just so much in the novel that nothing really gets done well. There are a lot of characters, a lot of plot, and a lot of genres all fighting for attention. I do need to be honest and say that I skimmed (ok, skipped almost completely) the last quarter of the novel. I had just reached the point where I realized I just didn’t care how it worked out.
I’m going to cheat and use the Goodreads summary, because there was SO much going on that I’m not really sure I could summarize it.
They call it Company Town–a city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes, now owned by one very wealthy, powerful, byzantine family: Lynch Ltd.
Hwa is of the few people in her community (which constitutes the whole rig) to forgo bio-engineered enhancements. As such, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig–making her doubly an outsider, as well as a neglected daughter and bodyguard extraordinaire. Still, her expertise in the arts of self-defense and her record as a fighter mean that her services are yet in high demand. When the youngest Lynch needs training and protection, the family turns to Hwa. But can even she protect against increasingly intense death threats seemingly coming from another timeline?
Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability and heightens the unease of a rig turning over. All signs point to a nearly invisible serial killer, but all of the murders seem to lead right back to Hwa’s front door. Company Town has never been the safest place to be–but now, the danger is personal.
A brilliant, twisted mystery, as one woman must evaluate saving the people of a town that can’t be saved, or saving herself.
Honestly, there’s so much potential here, but ultimately this just wasn’t enjoyable for me to read. The writing is choppy, and scenes skip from one to the next with no transitions leaving me thinking that I’d accidentally missed an important bit. This is nominated for the 2017 Canada Reads award, and I can see why. Like I said, there are a lot of really good ideas in here. I still say skip it.