About five years ago, I was walking through my local Kinney Drugs store on a lunch break from my job. I perused through their book selection and found a novel called Gateways by F. Paul Wilson. The story they painted on the back sounded great, but there were two additional selling points to the book that I responded to more than the actual story. The first was a quote from Stephen King on the first page which named himself the president of the Repairman Jack fan club. The second has to be the best selling point for a book ever and is taken from the New York Daily News. It reads: “Call a plumber when the sink is clogged, the cops when you’ve been robbed, but when you-know-what hits the fan, it’s time to call Repairman Jack.”
From that I was hooked, I made my purchase and went back to work. When I made it home that evening I started flipping through the book and realized that this book was six books into a series ultimately titled “The Repairman Jack Series.” Needless to say, I had to get the other books and purchased them online. The first book in the series is called The Tomb and is what this review is based on. The original title for the book was Rakoshi, for reasons that become quite clear in the book. The book title didn’t fly with the editor and was subsequently titled The Tomb and the irony of it is that there is no tomb in this book. (There is a version of the book with the original planned title of Rakoshi, that is if it’s still in print. It came out a few years ago from borderlandpress.com. If you’re a fan and you enjoy shelling money out for it…it’s approximately $60.)
As the book opens we meet Jack, a character you could describe as being “off the grid” per say. Jack doesn’t have a Social Security Number and goes to great lengths to keep himself free of the grid. Jack is a repairman of sorts, he doesn’t fix appliances though, he fixes situations for people that the authorities wouldn’t touch or for people who want to avoid the authorities. The best way to describe Jack is as an urban mercenary of sorts, but he doesn’t fit into that description completely. Jack has a heart and he is more human than most mercenaries. Jack also has a moral code; he will not let you hire him to kill someone or do a job for someone that may expose himself. Jack is by far one of the most complex characters I’ve come across in my short literary life.
The plot of The Tomb largely revolves around an English bloodline, a waning one, that has become part of an extinction to rectify an event that occurred in 1957. I know, it’s a very vague plot description, but the fun of this book is being given the pieces and putting them together. The book is written largely from Jack’s perspective, but you also have little sections of the book written from the perspectives of other supporting characters including Jack’s ex-girlfriend Gia, her daughter Vicky, the main protagonist of this novel Kusum Bahkti, and various other characters.
Details in a book, for someone who loves to read and does lots of research in their spare time, is a big thing. One thing I’ve noticed from Wilson’s books is that he does a fair amount of research, including weapons that Jack uses, facts about different regions of the world and such. The characters of Kusum Bahkti and his sister Kolobati are written quite well, almost as if Wilson spent time in India, which also lends more credence to Wilson’s writing ability. His descriptions of the weapons Jack buys and uses are in surprising detail. There is a scene in the book, where Jack is figuring out what weapon he is going to use against certain creatures. The gun and even the ammunition are in startling detail right down to what the bullets will do when exiting the gun.
The book also features a great cast of supporting characters. The first I will mention is Julio, a local bar owner who helps screen Jack’s clients. He also hates the yuppie crowds, and while its not present in this book, it is in later books, but he likes to make a game out of driving these types of people out of his bar. There is also Jack’s best friend Abe Grossman; your typical fat Jewish sports shop owners/gun runner whose obsession with Entemann’s crumb cake is hilarious. His ex-girlfriend at the time, Gia, who throughout the novel, you come to understand why she broke up with Jack. Vicky, her daughter, has a great relationship with Jack, and is one of the things that makes Jack more human for a mercenary. Kusum Bhakti, one of the best bad guys I’ve read in sometime will go to great lengths to avenge the death of his parents and restore India to her former glory. And his sister Kolobati, a love interest for Jack and is also involved in a shocking plot twist at the end of the book.
I implore you to check out these books, this is just one of the hopefully many reviews of the entire series. If you enjoy thriller novels, the supernatural, which does play an undercutting role in the books, and fantastically written characters, this is a book series for you. If you want a taste of Jack and don’t want to spend a lot of money doing so and you have an E-reader of some kind or can read books on your phone or computer, check out a book called Quick Fixes. You can find it on Amazon.com for $2.99 and contains a series of short stories about Jack. The best example of what you’re getting into is a story called “Interlude at Duane’s;” easily the best short example of a Repairman Jack novel. And when you-know-what hits the fan, you will know who to call.