It was just one of those random drug-store bookshelf finds. I needed something to read on my lunch break to avoid talking to my co-workers. I rifled through the paperback rack, back when regular stores still sold paperbacks.
Fourteen Stephen King novels, (read ’em) three Michael Connelly, (read ’em) two Lee Childs (read ’em) twenty-seven romance novels featuring shirtless cowboys, a dog-eared copy of Chicken Soup for the Teenager’s Soul, four Dean Koontz, six Robert Patterson, and…hello, what’s this?
The Tomb? Who the heck is F. Paul Wilson?
That was my introduction to F. Paul Wilson and the world of Repairman Jack. Sixteen books later, I guess you could say I’m a fan. I suppose I should also mention Midnight Mass, F. Paul Wilson’s excellent book about a vampire apocalypse, with which I am also in love. But that’ll have to wait for another blog post.
Repairman Jack, the protagonist of The Tomb and its fifteen sequels, is a fixer. But he doesn’t fix appliances. He fixes situations, the kind of situations people can’t take to the police. If you need stolen property recovered, if you need someone found, if you need bones broken, he’s your guy…as long as it’s for the right reasons. See, Jack isn’t just another thug. He’s a good guy. He’s got a code.
Officially, Jack doesn’t exist. He doesn’t have a social security number. He doesn’t pay taxes. He doesn’t even have a last name. He’s a modern day ghost, living off the grid in the heart of New York City.
Maybe Jack would just be another hard-ass, just another criminal, if not for Gia, his girlfriend, and her young daughter Vickie, whom Jack loves with all his heart, and will do anything to protect.
Oh yes, and did I mention the monsters? Somehow, Jack always manages to get tangled up in something supernatural. Strange monsters. Warp-holes to hell dimensions. Men in Black. Ancient organizations. Mysterious women who know more than they should. As the books progress, Jack finds out that he’s a part of a conflict bigger and more ancient than he could have imagined. It’s wonderful, coherent supernatural world-building, and I can never wait to find out what happens next.
Don’t get me wrong. F. Paul Wilson isn’t Cormac McCarthy or John Steinbeck. The Tomb isn’t a work of staggering genius. It’s just good, pulpy fun, which most of the time is all I’m looking for. They’re fast-paced, action-filled books with a loveable protagonist, plenty of plot twists, and plenty of fist-pump moments. For example, there’s always that moment when you’re like, Uh-oh bad guys, you shouldn’t have messed with Vicky and Gia. Now Jack is going to have to get medieval on your asses. And then he does. And you’re like, fist-pump! Jack is a badass, always wins the fights, and he’s the master of elaborate revenge plans that somehow always seem to work out perfectly. His inevitable victory might be boring, if not for the elaborate schemes he comes up with, and Wilson’s skill at making you really dislike the bad guys, so you really enjoy it when they get what’s coming to them.
Repairman Jack books are some of my go-to reads, books I can come back to again and again. They’re just fun. I can never find them at the used book store, because people don’t get rid of them.
I just now realized that I haven’t really mentioned the plot of The Tomb at all. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter. It’s good fun. Go read it.
F. Paul Wilson and the Repairman Jack series is just the sort of thing that might inspire a young author to try his hand at writing a fun, fast-paced, genre-bending action horror thriller with a supernatural twist…oh wait. That’s me.