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Monday, August 17, 2009

What I'm Reading: The Tomb

The Tomb is the first book in the best-selling Repairman Jack series by horror/sf/adventure writer F. Paul Wilson. Like most first books in a long running series, The Tomb sets up the series. So in this novel we find out about Repairman Jack, an anonymous fixer who works for powerful people who need important things taken care of sensitively.

In The Tomb we find out about Jack's lack of a social security number, his use of many different last names, and his general wariness of being seen anywhere, by anyone. Jack first became a fixer after his mother was killed by a cinder block being thrown off of a NJ overpass and landing in her lap. When the police can do nothing, college-aged Jack tracks the kid down and fixes the situation. He found his violent, lonely calling, moves to NYC, and never looks back.

Jack has 2 clients in The Tomb. The first is an employee of the Indian consulate who needs help retrieving his grandmother's stolen necklace. The other is for his estranged girlfriend Gia's Aunt. Her sister has gone missing under very suspicious circumstances. Jack is asked to locate her.

As you can imagine, the old lady did not simply wonder off and the necklace is no ordinary necklace. The two stories collide violently as an evil, supernatural being, controlled by Jack's Indian client, is stalking Gia's family, and its goal is to wipe out her daughter's cursed bloodline. Can Jack save the day and stop the bloodshed?

This book would appeal to readers on so many levels. First, it is very fast paced. Like all good adventure writers, Wilson uses date stamping at the start of each new section. The chapters are short, and Wilson stitches the point of view around constantly, so we are always seeing things from a different angle. For example, when we see what the killer is planning, the pace of the book, and your page turning, speeds up as we race to see how Jack is going to handle it.

Wilson is also well known for his great characters: his best friend and weapons dealer, Abe, his girlfriend Gia and her daughter Vicky, and his father are all interesting. But what is so appealing about Wilson's writing is that every character, not just Jack, is fleshed out, detailed, and nuanced. Even the extremely evil villain is given enough motivation and depth for us to see how he got that way. And of course there is Repairman Jack himself!

Other things that readers may enjoy about this book, and the entire series, are the supernatural monsters, detailed NYC and NJ settings, clear cut good vs. evil, and the humor (despite never advertising, Jack still gets messages on his answering machine from people who need their appliances repaired; even as his life is literally hanging in the balance).

With its multiple converging plot lines weaving together for a high drama finish, The Tomb, is hard to put down. Find a comfy seat for the last 100 pages because you will neglect everything in your life to keep reading and find out what happens.

: This is an easy one for me as I am in the process of writing the NoveList readalike article for F. Paul Wilson. In terms of the Repairman Jack series, readers may also like these supernatural, investigative series: Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas series, Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series, Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt series, Mike Carey's Felix Castor series, and Preston and Child's Pendergast series.

Lee Child's Jack Reacher series does not have any supernatural elements in it, but both Jacks are strikingly similar in their desire to live off of the grid. Fans of Repairman Jack's eccentricities at hiding his identity will find an even more intriguing loner in Reacher.

For those who liked Wilson's writing and do not have to have the invesitgative element, I would also suggest the writings of Jonathan Maberry, Robert McCammon, and the late Michael Crichton.

You can look to NoveList for my complete F. Paul Wilson Readalike article soon.

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