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 pulls into a station with eleven dead bodies inside. Four minutes before, the victims were seen boarding at the previous station. Eleven men butchered by hand in the blink of an eye. All are dead. And all are union.
Now, one man, Cyril Hayes, must fix this. There is a dark secret behind the inventions of McNaughton and with a war brewing between the executives and the workers, the truth must be discovered before the whole city burns. Caught between the union and the company, between the police and the victims, Hayes must uncover the mystery before it kills him.
The genius of a single 19th-century visionary financier transforms the early 20th century into a grimy, corrupt setting in Bennett's (Mr. Shivers) latest. In a world dominated by California's powerful and secretive McNaughton Corporation, the aspirations of the rising working class conflict with the desire of the moneyed class (specifically the ber-powerful McNaughtons) to remain firmly in control. Investigators Hayes and Samantha Fairbanks find themselves caught up in the oddly subdued conflict between unions and management while investigating a violent mass murder, inextricably entangled with McNaughton's hidden past and the future looming for everyone else. Bennett's unusual steampunk setting feels out of place in this gloomy, pessimistic novel. The prose is competent, but the tale it tells is a bit dull. Furthermore, the final despairing revelation, despite messianic overtones, reflects on the general malaise in American Science Fiction without building on it.