Jack: Secret Histories (Repairman Jack Novels)
by F. Paul Wilson
Review by Drew Bittner
Tor Teen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0765318547
Date: 27 May 2008 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
At age 14, Jack is the youngest of three kids and the one most prone to trouble. His hometown in Burlington County, New Jersey, is quiet and off the beaten path, with only the Pine Barrens to lend an element of mystery to their suburban existence.
Jack's friend Weezy has made a discovery: a strange mound on private property. With Weezy's brother Eddie, they sneak into a fenced-off yard and find a body in the mound, along with a strange object that cannot be what it seems.
Meanwhile, Jack is dealing with another friend who has a serious problem and an older brother who is making Jack's life unpleasant.
Once the body is discovered, things start to get weird. Weezy is convinced that somebody is keeping some dark secrets, but Jack is skeptical--why would anyone go to that kind of trouble?
He'd better figure this tangled situation out soon, or teenager or not, he'll be on the radar of some very dangerous enemies.
F. Paul Wilson brings his everyman urban merc Repairman Jack into the young adult market, creating the adventures of Jack as a teen. It's a great idea and provides some new opportunities to expand the world of Jack in fascinating new ways.
The sad fate of Jack's family has been established over the course of the novels. He's railed against it... but now Wilson has the chance to show that Jack was always fated to be a champion of humanity. Even in his early years, by choosing to get involved and fight for his friends, Jack showed he had what it takes to be a hero.
By showing Jack's family life, pre-tragedy, Wilson is able to display new facets of Jack's character. Creating this once-happy family amplifies the body-blow felt as, one by one, they are taken away. Wilson is able to heighten the emotion of books he's already written, which is a really neat trick.
Wilson brings something entirely new to the Jack canon with this story, adding in elements that come into play in his November release, By The Sword. He makes ingenious use of these opportunities, while telling a great teenagers-in-trouble story at the same time. It's the mark of a great writer that he can do both without sacrificing either.