reviewed by Jerry Wright
Author: F.Paul Wilson
Pub: Forge Books
Hardback: November 1, 2003
I first stumbled upon F. Paul Wilson with the publication of "Pard", a short story of a man with a symbiont (shades of Hal Clement's Needle) only taking place in a relatively far future, and giving Steve, the protagonist, the ability to heal. "Pard" and other stories were collected together in a book called Healer and are part of F. Paul Wilson's LaNague Federation Chronicles. Check 'em out, if you have the time. Good SF.
However, Wilson writes more than SF. Because he's a doctor, he writes a thumping good medical thriller (for example, Deep As The Marrow), and he also writes Horror. Sort of. I guess you could call his books "horror thrillers". I don't care much for horror, and yet I love the books of F. Paul Wilson.
Wilson is probably best known for his "Adversary Cycle" (The Keep, The Tomb, The Touch, Reborn, Reprisal, and Nightworld) and from these books springs his best-loved character: Repairman Jack.
Gateways is the sixth of the "Repairman Jack" novels. Jack first appeared in The Tomb and also has a part in Nightworld, the last of the "Adversary" cycle, but sometimes a great character will take over, and so Jack now has a series of his own, taking place in the period of time between those two books. Strange? Sure, but appropriate. For as has been said the world of Jack is where crime meets weird.
Jack is a fixer. If you can't get your problem solved legally, and if it fits in Jack's rather abstruse moral code, he will "repair the problem". And he's good. He also, legally, doesn't exist. He lives in the cracks of society. Since he's known as "Repairman Jack", his dad, living in a retirement center in Florida, despairs of his boy ever making good. I mean, sheesh, a repairman? Small and large appliances? What?
Leaving his beloved New York City, Jack has to head to Florida when his father ends up in a coma after a car accident. Of course, because Jack has become a magnet for the weird, it can't just be a normal reunion and make up after all these years... Nope, there is a lot of strange stuff going on in the Everglades. I imagine Dr. Wilson spent some time in the 'glades, and did some hefty research, because he is able to evoke the Everglades wonderfully well, and when I go to Florida, (when they aren't having a hurricane!!!) I'll take along a copy of Gateways to check it out.
Gateways is part of a series, and as such, might be crippled by a need to read the other books. However, that ISN'T the case. It stands well on it's own, but when you finish it, you will want to read the other books in the series, and then you'll want to read The Adversary Cycle! You have been warned.
By the way, the next book in the life of Repairman Jack will be out in October: CrissCross.
Copyright © 2004, Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories