Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review:The Tomb By F.Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack book #1, Adversary cycle #3)

The Tomb By F.Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack book #1, Adversary cycle #3) ***** 448 pages Tor books

So here is folks, were starting a journey here. Little personal background before I start this review. February 2010 I took a workshop for novelists called Borderlands. There was an author who taught apart of the workshop on “plotting” named F.Paul Wilson. I was already a fan thanks to Wilson’s classic horror novel “The Keep.” The reason he is teaching plotting is clear and this novel the Tomb is a good place to start to talk about it. You “The Tomb” is the first in a 15 Repairman Jack novels, (well 19 if you count the YA novels about Jack’s teenage years) but it is also the third novel in a different series of 6 novels called the Adversary Cycle. Both series end in the same novel called “Nightworld,” which is both Repairman Jack #15 and Adversary Cycle#6. At the same time there are other short stories and random novels that fit into the timeline of this mythos which Wilson calls the Secret History of the World.

Slightly...OK very influenced by Lovecraft but not quite Lovecraftian I would argue this mythos is deeper and more intensely plotted than even the Dark Tower series. It all starts in “The Keep,” but I had read that twice in the past and I had never read The Tomb, so when I saw it and the following two books in the series I decided I would read the first three Repairman Jack novels, and well I got hooked.

I decided that 2012 would be the year of F.Paul for me and set out of the goal of reading entire secret history of the world this year. So I’m reviewing the entire series over the next couple months and I intend to write detailed article at the end. I hope also to interview Wilson at the conclusion. Each review will have a section of spoilers for Jack fans, I hope to spark discussion. If I talk you into reading this series maybe you’ll come back and see if our opinions match. Talk about them, you know interact.

So Let’s start with the Tomb. Originally released in 1984, the novel has recently been updated to make it modern and fit the timeline. I read the updated book and certainly think that is where you’ll need to start there, I mean this version has cellphones and the internet. I generally am against these kinds of updates as I am a fan of out dated science fiction, however in this case it’s justified to update the books and link them together.

Repairman Jack is a great hero, in many ways the anti-hero, but the longer you get to know Jack you’ll see that whole Anti-thing wears off. Jack is a fix-it specialist. He is a repairman, but not for your fridge. Maybe you have a problem, one you can’t go to the police about. Need to find someone, get revenge. Jack is living outside the system, and he is really good at revenge, among other things. The Maguffin of the story is a necklace stolen off the neck of an old Indian woman who is dying in a Manhatten hospital room.

Jack is hired for this impossible job, find a necklace randomly stolen on the streets of NYC. Once he starts to track it down, a conflict arises. His recently ex-girlfriend Gia’s family members have disappeared. So at the same time he decides he needs to help find them.

Along the way Jack learns not only the history of this necklace, which tracks back to a bloody conflict over colonial India but the connection to the family whose disappearance he is investigating.

The Tomb is a great action horror novel which combines monsters,suspense, mystery and interesting characters. It is an excellent introduction to the world of Repairman Jack. It’s important you read this one because it effects the events of novels far into the series.

Spoilers: This is the first book but if you were to read the secret history in a straight timeline you would have read several adversary cycle books, Black Wind, Cold City and the Young Jack secret histories at this point. It is a great induction but looking back on it now after reading 14 other Repairman Jack books the strangest aspects of the book is the intensely erotic love story that Jack has with a woman who was not Gia.

This novel stood up on its own but as an introduction to Jack it stands out. It takes a while for the mystery to unravel and reveal the monsters. The impatient horror reader might have a problem with this, but it’s too bad. The final third of the novel cooks.


Edward Morris said...

Repairman Jack, to me, is a crossbreed of Robert W. Chambers' Repairer of Reputations, Kolchak The Night Stalker... and Jon Ratzenberger's epic Mr. FixIt in the movie 'House.' It's funny, I was just thinking about those books recently... Paul ran some sort of online questionnaire to the effect of "What would you ask Repairman Jack?" Great review of a powerhouse author.

David Agranoff said...

I'm reading the entire adversary and Repairman Jack series with full reviews in under a year. I am all about this series now. NO ONE plots like Wilson.