Bloodline: A Repairman Jack Novel
by F. Paul Wilson
Review by Drew Bittner
Forge Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765317063
Date: 18 September 2007 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Following the events in Harbingers, Jack has stopped taking "fix it" jobs and is spending his time with his love Gia and her daughter Vicky as they recuperate (slowly) from horrifying injuries. But Gia can sense his restlessness and urges him to get back to work, if only tackling a small case. He grudgingly agrees... and thus is the stage set for Bloodline, the eleventh Repairman Jack novel by F. Paul Wilson.
A worried single mom-- Christy Pickering-- comes to Jack with a problem: her 18 year old daughter Dawn is seeing a man twice her age. She has a bad feeling about the man and wants Jack to find out enough about him to warn Dawn off.
It seems easy enough. There must be a way to investigate Jerry Bethlehem, right?
With Jack, nothing can ever be that straightforward. Starting off, he learns that Christy's private investigator has been murdered through a sadistic water-torture arrangement -- but after Jack tips off the authorities, the murder is strangely absent from the papers. Acting on a tip from the dead gumshoe's office, a scribbled note referring to "oDNA" and a cryptic reference to the Creighton Institute (a facility for the criminally insane), Jack follows the trail of Jerry Bethlehem into a science experiment gone wrong.
Turns out "Jerry" is a cover identity for Jeremy Bolton, a man made infamous by killing two Atlanta abortionists. What is he doing loose, and why is a nameless government agency covering up his latest crimes? And why is he pursuing Dawn Pickering... and seems to have been pursuing her for some time?
Finally, what connection does Bolton have with a mysterious new movement based on the self-help book Kick? Its author, Hank Thompson, seems to be involved in some odd business, particularly when his distinctive "Kicker Man" symbol shows up in the unholy Compendium of Srem Jack acquired some time back.
Jack is forced to rely on a doctor with qualms of conscience, while the project manager sets Bethlehem on his trail (since his investigation is a threat to her work). As usual, Abe and Julio help support Jack as much as they can, but treachery and the workings of the Otherness constantly up the stakes. And as Jack delves into the tangled web of connections between Bethlehem, Christy, Dawn and Thompson, it proves to have some shattering ramifications for him as well.
There are no more coincidences for Jack, as the world speeds toward a reckoning with the Otherness, the hostile alien super-intelligence battling the mostly-benign Ally for rule of the universe. He's a piece in their game-- and the end is coming into view.
Bloodline opens up new aspects of Jack's battle against the Otherness. The theme of family is a powerful one, especially on the heels of tragedy in Jack's life, and the ratcheting-up of violence is steady. The lengths to which Jack goes in this book should scare the reader, particularly as he realizes how little difference there might be between him and a psychopath like Bethlehem.
Wilson's Kickers are also set up to be a more durable enemy organization than the bygone Dormentalists, while his encounter with P. Frank Winslow, an author who writes the adventures of super-merc Jake Fixx, is an entertaining detour from the main plot-- especially when Jack contrasts the ease with which Fixx solves his cases against his own challenges and difficulties.
A dark entry in a darkening series, Bloodline builds skillfully on the previous volumes, setting up the sides of good and evil that will face off in years (and novels) to come. Wilson's in top form, creating a situation that peels down layer by layer from the innocuous to the horrific. It's a great piece of storytelling.
By this point, many serial novelists might be drifting off course, bored with their creations or anxious to wrap things up. Not here. Wilson is creating an epic story across a lot of books-- and readers will want to see where it goes next.