by F. Paul Wilson
A dear friend recommended this book to me, the first in the "Repairman Jack" series of horror/fantasy novels set in present-day New York. I dithered for a long time, though. One one hand, it looked like it might be cut out of the same cloth as the Dresden Files, and I wanted to get through as much of that series as possible before starting something new but similar. On the other hand, it looked like little more than the typical paperback thriller, of which I have forgotten nearly as many as I have read. Only one thing about this particular paperback raised an eyebrow: a glowing accolade by Stephen King, quoted on the front cover not as the author of The Stand or Carrie, but as the President of the Repairman Jack fan club. If Stephen King was the president of my fan club, I would have it made. But I guess, before that could happen, I would have to write a story as gripping and scary as this one.
Surprisingly enough, Repairman Jack turns out to be completely different from Harry Dresden. For one thing, he lives in New York (Manhattan to be exact), a city that comes to life in the imagination in a vividly colored (and scented), culturally vibrant, historically and geographically fascinating way that a certain midwestern city mostly known for its windiness just doesn't. Plus, he's not a wizard. He's just a repairman. He doesn't fix appliances, though; he fixes situations. Some of these situations require a rather brutal touch. Jack whatever-his-last-name-is is no stranger to violence. But until now, they haven't been paranormal situations. When magic and mythological monsters get mixed up with his career and his love life, Repairman Jack gets as freaked-out as you or I would be. The difference is his incredible toughness, bravery, and single-minded determination. When he sets his mind on getting something done, he gets it done. If it's impossible, maybe it takes a bit longer.
The first impossible thing Jack does in this book is to recover an heirloom necklace stolen from an old lady from India. By the time the woman's grandson—a one-armed, extremely Hindu character named Kusum—hires Jack to fetch it back, the silvery iron chain set with two yellow stones could be anywhere in the five boroughs. But Jack finds it well enough, and he teaches the mugger a lesson too. What he doesn't notice, however, is the nightmare out of Indian prehistory which climbs the wall of a hospital and snatches the mugger out of his room. This nightmare turns out to be a person-eating demon called a rakosh, which has been hatched for the very purpose of hunting down and destroying some of the most important people in Jack's life, simply because their ancestor did a bad, bad thing.
But then, so does getting on Repairman Jack's bad side. And when a cargo hold full of rakoshi target little Vicky, the daughter of the woman Jack loves, you almost feel sorry for them. But then you remember that they're terrifying monsters who, when they decide to kill you, usually manage it no matter how hard you kill them back. And that's where I'll leave you in this review, to decide for yourself whether you're up to a tale combining grisly claws, fiery explosions, sinister potions, and a hero whose strange and absorbing story ensure that his relationship with the strong-willed Gia will always be the most explosive thing in his life. In case you are, and you find this book as mindblowing as you might, wrap your mind around this: The Tomb is both the second book of six in "The Adversary Cycle" (each of which has a different protagonist) and the first of sixteen in the "Repairman Jack" series, both of which end with the same book! Of more immediate concern, most likely, is the fact that the second Repairman Jack book is titled Legacies.
St. Louis, USA
Recommended Age: 14+
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