“Tales of Repairman Jack” by F. Paul Wilson: A Review

“Tales of Repairman Jack,” published by Tor Books, New York, NY 10010, and Isher Books, distributed by the Gauntlet Press, among others.

Repairman Jack is one of the most exciting characters ever to come out of the mind of F. Paul Wilson, who in his spare time is a practicing physician in Wall, New Jersey. It would take a Jersey boy to create someone as interesting and unique as Repairman Jack.

Some writers, besides myself, who are fans of Repairman Jack are Lee Childs, Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, Dean Koontz, Joe R. Lansdale and Andrew Vacchss. That’s just a handful; there are more. Once I read my first Repairman Jack book, “Harbingers,” I was hooked.

I don’t recommend beginning there because that’s kind of the middle of a long story. Actually, I began with “Infernal,” which introduced me to Jack’s brother Tom, who is a practicing judge in Philadelphia.

It might appear that Jack is the black sheep in the family, but families have many secrets, and sometimes our brothers and sisters might be in competition for that title. We don’t always know them as well as we think we do. In the book “Infernal,” Jack’s brother Tom cons Jack into going on a treasure hunt to look for a wreck off the coast of Bermuda.

As is often the case with Jack’s adventures, things go astray. I’m not going to ruin the book for you by giving you the storyline. I’ll tell you that Jack hangs out in a bar called The Spot, which is run by Julio, who becomes a close friend, and the search for treasure turns into a dark tale of mystery and power.

Repairman Jack doesn’t exist. Well, he’s real, but a tragic event in his life caused him to want to stay hidden away from society. He has no Social Security card, pays no taxes and because of his desire to protect the people he loves, he becomes a ghost in the machine of civilization. He’s a repairman because he implements solutions to problems that can’t be fixed by legitimate means. These are problems that can only be solved by someone who can’t be traced or identified.

You’ll love Repairman Jack. There are over 16 books narrating his adventures, and each of them tell stories that are continuous, and yet, they also stand alone. You’ll know when you’re nearing the end of the Repairman Jack story because his books tend to end with cliffhangers.

You may enjoy starting with the book named “Dark City,” which is one of the early histories of Jack. It’s not the earliest history of Jack; the beginning of his story is told in a series of three books written for young adults.

We all have to begin somewhere, right? The first young adult book is “Jack: Secret Histories,” and it begins with Jack growing up in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, when he’s in high school. I suggest you start reading about Jack here. Isn’t everyone really a young adult, a child who happens to get wrinkled and grey?

In the third book of the young adult series, a tragic event takes place that changes Jack’s life forever. No, I won’t tell you what it is—but every boy, from a good home, loves his mother. Once you finish “Secret Histories,” “Secret Circles” and “Secret Vengeance,” you’ll be ready to enter the next trilogy, which takes Repairman Jack to the Dark City.

In the Dark City you’ll meet Abe, a mensch who runs the Isher Sports Shop. Abe becomes one of Jack’s closest friends. Then there’s Jack’s adversary, Rasalom, who is first introduced in F. Paul Wilson’s book “The Keep.” This story takes place during the hell of Nazi Germany, way back in 1941. The Keep in question is in the Dinu Pass, in Romania, and it was created to contain—well, needless to say, one of the most frightening enemies in the Repairman Jack series. I cannot say more.

People clamor for F. Paul Wilson to write more Repairman Jack books; however, it appears that he may be done with them. Yet, one can always hope. Some might say that 16 books is enough. I say to thee, nay, there can never be enough Repairman Jack. Now all we need is some movies. Really.

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.