Crisscross by F.Paul Wilson
**** 512 Pages Tor
This is the 8th Jack and I am writing these reviews as I read them. In many ways this is the novel I have been waiting to read since the start. It is in many ways a crucial turning point in the saga, but what is amazing is just how many of the novels present yet another turning point for the main character. You know Jack is going to survive to fight another day, so Wilson very smartly finds ways to ratchet up the tension for Jack.
I have said it before but Wilson has proven with this series (and Adversary cycle which comes together and ends in the same novel Nightworld) that he is the master of plotting. Crisscross is a tight example of this because it weaves two Jack “Fix-it” cases and then perfectly weaves them into the wider story of the secret history of the world.
Well, Jack should have known better as he and the reader have been warned that there are no coincidences for Jack anymore. He is hired by a woman to find her son who has joined a cult called Dormentalism which is basically a fictionalized Scientology. At the same time Jack is working the case of a woman being blackmailed by the same man Jack had to steal pictures from back in The Haunted Air (RMJ#6).
Jack is aware that the woman being blackmailed is hiding a secret from him, but takes the case. As Jack works this case, he looks for the man who joined the Dormentalist cult. The only problem is that Jack discovers this cult is more than just a money scheme and connects to the growing evil he has been pulled into a war against. Crisscross is an important step for Jack and this series. Wilson has said several times that he is admittedly is using Repairman Jack to write novels that his publisher might not be otherwise interested in. I imagine he was thinking he is a chance to write about and somewhat spoof the church of Scientology.
This novel is really well put together and much better than the last one.
Part of what makes Crisscross even more impressive is how the bogus religion created by a hippie free-love origins is twisted into being a vehicle for the otherness. Thus this story fits the bigger saga. This Jack novel I wanted to read because this is the novel where Jack straight up fails. Don’t get me wrong has faced tragedy before, the loss of his sister (in Hosts RMJ #5) certainly was a time where jack managed not to fix everything. It adds a tension to the series that Jack is not perfect, that from time to time you know he might fail. In the end Jack does a great job of finding and making justice, but it’s important that he doesn’t fix everything.