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Spotlight on: Gateways: A Repairman Jack Novel

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Gateways: A Repairman Jack Novel by F. Paul Wilson F. Paul Wilson, Gateways (Repairman Jack #7)

Read more about my history with the Repairman Jack series — and F. Paul Wilson's work in general — in my review of the previous books in the series, starting at the top of my Repairman Jack review page.

F. Paul Wilson continues his enormously popular Repairman Jack series and tells his readers more about Jack's family history in the seventh exciting volume, Gateways. Repairman Jack is absolutely the most intriguing series character running today -- a mercenary with no official identity but a solid moral foundation, he "fixes" situations that are outside the realm of normal legal channels and that generally involve some supernatural elements. And I wait eagerly for the release of each succeeding entry.

When a hit-and-run puts his father Tom in a coma, Jack is the only family member available to go to the Florida Everglades–area retirement village where Tom lives (also called Gateways) and find out what happened. There he discovers odd animal behaviors, and learns more about his father than he ever expected. He also learns even more about his role in the plan to defeat the Otherness, and how he has increasingly less control over the events that surround him. And he finally meets the Adversary (the enigmatic "Sal Roma") face to face.

He also meets two women who have major influences on what happens: Tom's friend and neighbor Anya, who knows more than she lets on (and has an even more important role as the story progresses); and Semmelee, a young, white-haired zoomancer with ambitions that can only get her into real trouble. These two will help and hinder Jack in their own particular ways as he faces his biggest and most important repair job yet.

Kudos to F. Paul Wilson for crafting a nearly perfect thriller that can stand on its own, and also manages to continue a larger story within its pages. Also for threading environmental concerns within Gateways in a way that is only noticeable if you are looking for it. Some authors would make their agenda too heavy for the story to handle, but Wilson's subtlety lends a lightness to those sections, so you can see the mutant creatures as something that humans have caused, or simply as horrific obstacles that Jack must overcome — much like in Hugh B. Cave's The Dawning. Meanwhile, more people die and Jack really learns what it means to have coincidence removed from his life. (Lesser kudos to Wilson for also managing to write, so far, two novels involving various of Jack's family members without once mentioning their last name. That must have required a lot of work in itself, especially since I didn't realize it until I was finished with this one.)

Gateways felt a little long in spots (though The Haunted Air is one hundred pages longer), but there is that extra layer of emotion present (as Jack's relationship with his father takes center stage) that makes it into more than just a pure thriller. Abe, Gia, and Vicky hardly appear at all, which makes me believe that a lot of cutting was required to even get it down to this manageable length. Seven novels in, however (with heavy revisions on at least two Repairman Jack–related books), Wilson has not lost any steam. In fact, I would say that, with the larger story working toward its conclusion, the books from this point on can only get even more exciting.

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