Infernal by F.Paul Wilson
*** ½ 432 pages Tor
I went into the 9th Repairman Jack book as blind as possible, I didn’t read the descriptions on the back and just jumped in. I gave Infernal less stars than I have other books in the series and that low ranking might be misleading. It is a very high bar that has been set. I flew through this book as fast as I did the other books in the RMJ series, I just didn’t think this novel was as good as the others. I still liked the story, still enjoyed myself. In fact I read 100 pages in a sitting more than once.
Lots of important things happen in this novel that advance the unfolding plot. Wilson always weaves one or two Jack “fix-it” jobs together. That wasn’t possible in this story do to the events that happen in the first couple chapters. It was shocking and probably angered more than one reader. I know Wilson has said that he wanted use RMJ to write novels that move genres. This one to me is the biggest stretch, getting Jack into the plot of the novel is kinda like fitting a square beg into a round hole.
Infernal you see is in part a quest for buried treasure novel. Repairman Jack is a lifetime jersey/New Yorker and so much of the story revolves around the region. Fitting Jack into this novel he had to join his brother on search for buried treasure in the Bermuda triangle. I wasn’t sure it would work.
It does work, it works well infact. I enjoyed it, but it is probably my least favorite in the series. These novels are filled with strong characters many of whom I like, as great of a characters as Abe or Jack’s father were his brother is the opposite. I think Wilson did a great job of making us readers like Jack’s Sister and father so I am sure he had intended for us to dislike Jack’s brother and boy did I. I mean his brother is a serious jerk. Stephen King has always been the best at creating bullies and Jerks. Tom (Jack’s brother) is a very vile creature indeed. There is a lot to like in this book
Infernal is second of three novels in row where Jack goes through serious game changing events and all of these events take place during the early stages of Gia’s pregnancy. His best friend and arms dealer Abe is working on creating a new identity for Jack so he can come out of the cold and Marry Gia. Good timing as Jack is trying to get over the events of Crisscross.
As the book starts I was looking forward to another adventure shared between Jack and his father who arrives for a visit early in the novel. Well Wilson doesn’t give the reader any time to enjoy this when Jack’s father is killed by what looks like a terrorist attack. This death is a shocker, and happens without narrative warning. It sets the wheels in motion where Jack has to ask his borther to identify the body. Back in Gateways we got a hint that Tom had something bad going on in Philly where he is a judge. Once he comes to claim the body and put the funeral we learn quickly what an ass his brother. So as much as I found the buried treasure aspect to be stretch and not very interesting the character aspects of the book are totally worthwhile. Once Vicky accidently touches the infernal and marks herself for death the novel begins to cook.
Gia, Vicky and Jack become a real family in the last 100 pages of the book. Both Gia and Jack are willing to sacrifice themselves to save their loved ones. This sets up the dilemma for Jack’s brother who realizes that he is alone in the world. In a uncharacteristically noble act Tom (who doesn’t expect it to work) offers to give himself up to save Jack.
The last 100 pages cook, and really makes up for the rough start of this entry in the series. Jack has been warned, no more coincidences. Considering that everyone he loves seems to be dying the next couple books are going to get ugly.