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Ground Zero: A Repairman Jack Novel by F. Paul Wilson
Edited by David G. Hartwell
Review by Drew Bittner
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765322814
Date: 15 September 2009 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

What if the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001, were more than they seemed? If the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center skyscrapers was a ploy to achieve something more insidious--and more horrific?

That's the premise behind Ground Zero, Wilson's next-to-next-to-last Repairman Jack novel. And the stakes just keep getting higher...

Jack is contacted about a missing person--who turns out to be his old friend Weezy Connell. Weezy always had ideas about the "secret history" of the world, but now she's finding out more than is safe for her to know. She is unearthing connections between some of Jack's biggest problems, leading her (and Jack) into ever greater danger.

It seems that Jack's old enemies, the Kickers and the Dormentalists, have some deeply buried connections. The Kickers--followers of a brutal, selfish philosophy of "me first, everyone else last"--are in debt to the weird cult of Dormentalism, even using one of their buildings as a headquarters. Both groups are on the trail of something known as the Orsa, an artifact of horrible potential; the Orsa is needed to create the Fhinntmanchca, a weapon the Adversary needs to end all life on Earth.

Jack, naturally, isn't about to let that happen. The problem is, the weapon may be far too powerful for him to stop--and one of his oldest, staunchest allies is in its crosshairs.

Meanwhile, Dawn (pregnant with a potential anti-Christ) wonders if she's making a fatal mistake by staying with the sinister Mr. Roma, and the Oculus Dei--a group of evil-fighting prophets and warriors--pass along info to Jack about the shape of the menace he is fighting. Along the way, Jack acquires some useful words from the Lady about the Adversary, as well as new reasons to fight: if the Adversary's weapon is unleashed, the end is all but assured.

The writing is on the wall for fans of Repairman Jack: F. Paul Wilson is bringing his epic series to its natural conclusion. Plot threads seeded through preceding novels, all the way back to the beginning, are being woven together. Deep secrets of the tale are coming to light, and the overall shape of the endgame is now in sight.

Jack is much the same as ever, save that Wilson deftly portrays how the burden of being the Heir (a backup Champion of mankind if the current Champion dies or fails) is grinding on him. It's a singular accomplishment, showing how ongoing stress and a crushing responsibility affect even the strongest. Jack becomes more heroic by the book, because he could walk away--but we know that he won't.

Similarly, Weezy Connell as a grownup fulfills the promise of Wilson's teen-Jack novels (now in print). She was a skeptical, disbelieving teen; now she's almost a crazy conspiracy buff who has the unhappy fate of being right. Jack is her anchor to sanity, as she immerses herself in the secret history she imagined but couldn't prove. She's a great creation, a brilliant woman on the verge of madness because she knows the truth, and Wilson employs her well.

Little new can be said about the enemies they face, except that they are drawing a noose ever closer around our heroes. At this point, much of Jack's strategy shifts to surviving rather than attacking his foes (though he does some of that as well). Assets are deployed and used up, and old friendships are pushed to the limit. This is really almost the end, folks, and there is no let-up for Jack, no respite or relief. The final cards are about to be dealt and, in two more novels.... well, that'd be telling.

Wilson's bringing his A-game to this latest novel. Readers who like fast-paced, dark urban fantasy from a master storyteller will find this a thrilling journey. Get on board now, 'cause this train is moving fast, folks.

Strongly recommended.

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