Friday, April 1, 2011

The Tomb: Repairman Jack, #1 -- F. Paul Wilson

After reading F. Paul Wilson's recent YA prequels about Repairman Jack's earliest adventures -- things that happened to him before he was even known as Repairman Jack -- I knew it was finally time to sit down and read the series in order. Back in 1984, The Tomb introduced readers to Repairman Jack. It's been re-released a few times, with details updated -- cell phones added and so on -- to keep it set in the present day.

Jack has no last name, no social security number, and no bank account. He keeps his life savings -- in gold Krugerrands, no less -- taped to the pipes in his apartment. He makes his money "fixing" things -- but not appliances. For a fee, he'll fix your problem. But only if he thinks it's a problem that needs fixing -- although he's technically a career criminal, Jack has a stricter moral code than most law-abiding citizens.

In The Tomb, Jack is juggling two seemingly-unrelated* cases: He's looking into the mysterious disappearence of his ex-girlfriend's great aunt, and he's trying to locate a stolen necklace for Kusum Bahkti, a member of the Indian Delegation at the United Nations. Turns out, though, that the necklace is no ordinary necklace...

First off, reading The Tomb made me realize what an excellent job F. Paul Wilson did with the YA trilogy -- it's completely believable that Young Jack would grow up into this guy:

Jack loathed his exercise routine and embraced any excuse to postpone it. He never missed a day, but never passed up an opportunity to put it off.

As with all of the other Repairman Jack books I've read, Jack's pure awesomeness overrides the less-awesomeness (mediocrity is too harsh) of the writing. He's a fascinating guy who's enjoyable to be around, and if that means putting up with the tired Guy Looks in a Mirror to Prompt a Passage About His Physical Description routine, well, I'm okay with that. I found it more difficult to swallow the passages from Kusum's perspective, which were stilted at best and hideously stereotypical in the Western Infidels! flavor at worst, but I'll put up with a lot to spend time with Jack.



Jack: Secret Circles
Jack: Secret Vengeance


Book Source: Finished copy supplied by the publisher.


Cross-posted at Bookshelves of Doom.


MoreThingsJapanese said...

Is it comparable to the A-Team sitcom? Sounds like the 'bad guy who is really a good guy' fixing other peoples problems might be similar? I might have to take a look to find out

Kevin Bayer said...

I guess if you look at it that way, yeah, it's kinda similar. Jack gets a "case" and solves someone's problem for them. But it's not slapstick comedy like the A-Team. Jack is dark. The only real bright spot in his life is his girlfriend and her daughter, and his weapons supplier. That being said, there's still humor/snark in the book to keep it from going too dark. There are heart-wrenching scenes in some of the books too, especially if you're invested in the characters after following the story through each installment.
Jack starts out in a very dark place, but as the world and his situation grows darker around him throughout each book, he himself becomes ...less dark due to his relationships and how he sees his lifestyle affecting those around him.

It's a great series.

david elzey said...

so i've read the prequels and, yeah, less than stellar writing, but also really lackluster plotting. i also felt the YA prequels were too calculated to build an audience for the "adult" jack books in a world where teens who were interested would just assume skip the teen books anyway and jump to the real thing.

sort of like elmore leonard writing a YA prequel to the chili palmer books. although leonard is such an excellent writer i'm sure he could pull it off.