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F. Paul Wilson Spotlight:
Hosts: A Repairman Jack Novel
Alternate: The Adversary Cycle

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Hosts: A Repairman Jack Novel by F. Paul Wilson F. Paul Wilson, Hosts (Repairman Jack #5)

I was introduced to F. Paul Wilson's work by my uncle during my horror phase in my late teens. (All I would read was King, Koontz, Matheson, etc.) He gave me a copy of a collection of short stories called Soft and Others and I just ate it up. Later I went to what was my local used bookstore (The Book Rack in Johnson City, TN)--where they have a specific "Weird" section (instead of "Horror")--and picked up The Keep. Couldn't put it down, as they say.

Then, when I was in college, during a trip to the library, I saw his name on the spine of a book entitled Nightworld that had just come out (this was around 1992). I read in the front that it was the end of what was being called "The Adversary Cycle" and that I had finished Book 1 (The Keep). This led me in pursuit of the other books and into another world.

Also included in that series is a novel called The Tomb (second in the series). Its hero is a guy known as Repairman Jack. Despite the phone calls he receives to the contrary, Repairman Jack is not an appliance repairman. Jack fixes situations for people who have used up all other avenues. He works at remaining completely anonymous. His medium-build, average-height, brown-haired, brown-eyed appearance works well for this. He has no Social Security number, no permanent address, an office rented under an alias, and the ability to drop everything and leave at a moment's notice.

Jack is a superhero type, but still human. A fan of classic movies and memorabilia, he has a girlfriend--Gia--who once left him upon finding out his occupation (she didn't want violence around her daughter Vicky), but has since decided to take the job along with the man.

In fact, in The Tomb, Gia enlists his help to find her aunt who has mysteriously disappeared. Earlier, he had been hired by a man named Kusum Bakhti to find a necklace stolen from his mother. This was a simple and easily accomplished task. However, it turns out that Kusum and his sister Kolabati are seeking ancient vengeance on Gia's family, the Westphalens--picking them off one by one--including Gia's daughter, little Vicky.

Wilson excels at writing this type of fantastic situation, a combination of suspense, mystery, and the supernatural which is common for Jack, and makes for riveting reading. In Hosts, we meet Jack's sister, Kate, whose partner, Jeanette, is experiencing a personality change. She is really acting differently than normal, including being seemingly led around by Terrence Holdstock, who holds meetings in his apartment where it seems that people just sit around, acting strangely.

It seems that Jeanette recently had an experimental treatment for a brain tumor. A virus infected the treatment and is turning her and the other patients into the Village of the Damned. Kate wants Jeanette to return to herself, but Jeanette sees no problem, despite the fact that every so often, she screams for Kate to help her.

Earlier that day, Jack had been the one person to stop a man's psychotic shooting rampage on a subway car--a subway car that just happened to also contain a tabloid reporter looking to make his name, and who is now looking to interview Jack for the front page. This definitely does not fit in with Jack's plans for anonymity. Add to this a mysterious Russian lady who tells Jack he is the world's only hope and a couple of bomb experts seeking vengeance on a previous case that ruined them and Jack certainly has his work cut out for him.

It has been said that, although proficient at all genres, Wilson is at his best when mixing them up to create something original. And the type of mystery-suspense-horror-medical thriller contained in Hosts is a perfect example. One both never and always knows what to expect from F. Paul Wilson.

The Keep   The Tomb   The Touch   Reborn   Reprisal   Nightworld
Alternate Recommendation: F. Paul Wilson, The Adversary Cycle

Before the Repairman Jack sequels, Jack could only be found as part of The Adversary Cycle, a series of novels depicting the end of the world by an evil known only as Rasalom (or Molasar).

The first three (The Keep, The Tomb, and The Touch) can be read in any order as they introduce characters who will appear in the final three (Reborn, Reprisal, and Nightworld), which must be read in proper order to make sense. (They were originally conceived as one novel, but the publishers balked at printing such a huge book.)

How does one go about writing such a series? I'll let Mr. Wilson answer that one from an online chat session held by the AOL Dark Fiction/Horror Workshop:

"...I didn't start out with the plan of linking them... The Keep, The Tomb, The Touch we all considered stand-alones at writing time...BUT when I plotted out Reborn, I saw that the EVIL I needed to fuel the plot...already existed in The Keep...and somehow, they all fit together...Maybe I'd been working on a link-up subconsciously all along...But it was a thrill when I saw that they all meshed. A very cool feeling to wow yourself."
But anyway, it's an involving and a gripping read. Especially when everything culminates in Nightworld. You'll be up all night finishing that one.

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