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Bookends: The early education of a urban mercenary February 18, 2015

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: The early education of a urban mercenary

By Dan DavidsonCold City

October 29, 2014

– 713 words –


Cold City- A Repairman Jack Novel

By F. Paul Wilson

TOR Books

481 pages



Repairman Jack (no last name) is the subject of more than a dozen novels by Wilson. Some of which cross over into his occult themed “Adversary” series. Jack is a Manhattan based urban mercenary who fixes other peoples’ problems. He takes on cases of people who are downtrodden and being victimized. Jack lives off the grid, though he has some aliases that actually have paperwork behind them.

He appeared first as one character in the supernatural thriller The Tomb in 1988 and popped up in a number of Wilson’s other Adversary books. These deal, in Wilson’s own words, “with a history of the world that remains undiscovered, unexplored and unknown to most of humanity.”

The Jack we meet in those books is fully formed and super competent, though he has no special powers. He’s a bit McGyver-like in some of the books that show him as an adult, but he had to learn all that somewhere didn’t he?

Wilson has produced a trilogy of young adult books that feature Jack in high school, but Cold City is set during an intermediate stage of his life, after he has moved to the big city and is just starting to turn into the Repairman.

Jack is on the run and off the grid because he’s killed someone. His mother was killed when a young hoodlum dropped a concrete block off an overpass and it went through the window of her car. Jack was sitting beside her at the time and it was a formative moment for him. He tracked the prankster down and hung him foot first from same overpass, low enough for the semis to make contact. He was not found out, but he expects to be.

Jack has anger management problems, which he fights to control. He is working for a landscaper when one of his co-workers pushes him past his limit and he puts the man in the hospital. Needing another job, he becomes a driver for a cigarette smuggler, and that goes well until he is forced into a situation where he has to save another man’s life by driving for a group of human traffickers.

He encounters a pair of urban vigilantes who assist him in saving the girls, but this gains him the enmity of a mysterious group dedicated to creating chaos in the world.

There’s also something of a love story in this volume. Though he tries to avoid contact with anyone who knew him in his earlier life, he runs into Cristin, who had been the BFF of his high school sweetheart a few years earlier. She’s interested in being Jack’s “best friend with benefits” and the offer is impossible to resist for a young man who’s been alone too long.

So, the young Jack acquires a fake identity, a lot of money, driving skills, a working knowledge of several types of firearms, and some shady acquaintances who could be something like mentors to a young man just forming his adult identity. He even takes on a charity case when he comes to the aid of a local merchant who is being shaken down.

This book is set in 1990 and contains hints of things that will be happening in our real world; specifically, the World Trade Centre bombing that took place in 1993 and should occur within the time frame covered by the three books in this arc.

The book also sets up a lot of subplots that Wilson will no doubt wrap up in Dark City (already in print) and Fear City (forthcoming this year). The secret cabal knows that someone has interfered with their plans and is looking for him. A lower level villain named Reggie, who Jack had chosen to seriously damage rather than kill during that human trafficking affair, is out for revenge, and has already staged one attempt on Jack’s life.

What this book doesn’t have is even a whiff of the supernatural element that turns up in books set later along Jack’s timeline. This adventure is pure, down to earth thriller stuff, and a good page-turner.






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