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Bookends: The teenage years of an urban vigilante. October 12, 2015

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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By Dan Davidson

February 25, 2015

– 950 words –

Repairman Jack (no last name) is the central character in a series of about 15 novels and a batch of short stories. He is a self-styled urban vigilante who uses his wits and considerable (but not unnatural) physical abilities to solve other peoples’ problems. He lives off the grid, having no regular employment, no social security number, no official presence in the world. He deals entirely in cash transactions, some of which he has accumulated as a result of his problem solving activities.

Many of his fixes deal with mundane issues, but there is an increasing supernatural ed
ge as the series moves on. Jack himself has no supernatural abilities.

Most of the books have been about the adult Jack, the full grown Repairman, but creator F. Paul Wilson has recently provided a couple of trilogies dealing with his back story and origins, while still avoiding any last name. The Jack trilogy takes us back to several months in the life of high school aged Jack, the summer and fall of his 14th year, where we meet some of the people who have been mentioned in the later stories.

The teenage Jack novels are less violent and less sexy, with a less harsh vocabulary than the adult books. These Tor Teen volumes are clearly aimed at teenage readers, but the stories are engaging enough that I wasn’t at all disappointed.

 

Jack: Secret HistoriesSecret Histories

By F. Paul Wilson

Tor Teen

320 pages

$9.49

The first book introduces the New Jersey town where Jack grew up, and we meet his friends Weezy (Louise) and her brother, Eddie, as well as the eerie vastness of the Pine Barrens on the edge of town. Exploring when they have been warned constantly not to go there, they find a rotting corpse, which eventually turns out to be a member of an influential fraternal group in the town called the Lodge. Soon several other people connected to this group die mysteriously and the kids have some digging to do.

Weezy is 14 year old Jack’s best friend and a girl with some strange tastes and abilities. She “knows things’ though it’s hard to say just how. She introduces Jack to the idea that there is a Secret History of the World, a theme that will run through his adventures for the rest of his life.

In trying to solve the mystery while at the same time helping his friend Steve, whose home situation has become ugly, Jack pioneers the kind of working behind the scenes technique that will become his trademark, causing things to happen without being seen to do so himself.

 

Jack: Secret CirclesSecret Circles

By F. Paul Wilson

Tor Teen

288 pages

$9.49

Weeks later Jack and his friends get involved in the mystery of a missing boy. Jack feels he may have been one of the last people to see his five year old neighbour, Cody, before he disappeared, and is therefor somehow responsible for finding him.

While searching in the Barrens he and his chums stumble across a mysterious pyramidal structure that looks as if it might have been a cage of some sort. What might it have held? And what does it have to do with the subterranean structures that they find underneath the Lodge when Jack finally finagles a way to break in and search the place.

More importantly, what does all this have to do with Cody and with the lost man who stumbled out of the Barrens after having been chased all night by … something. Could it be there really is a Jersey Devil?

Jack: Secret Vengeance

Secret Vengeance

By F. Paul Wilson

Tor Teen

304 pages

$9.99

Summer is over and school has begun again when Weezy, who has been immune to most of the obsessions of teenage girls, suddenly starts going all girly over Carson Toliver, the captain and quarterback of the football team, heartthrob of South Burlington County Regional High. This causes Jack’s world to take a spin in a weird direction. He himself has just begun to notice that Weezy is a girl, so there are some odd feelings involved.

But when Weezy comes to him to say that Carson has taken her on a date and tried to sexually assault her, and when the rumour mill at the school starts putting out an entirely reversed version of that incident, labeling her as “Easy Weezy”, Jack knows he has to figure out some way to expose the real Carson and clear his friend’s reputation. He needs to come up with a way to create the secret vengeance of the book’s title.

This book also introduces the reclusive local residents known as the Pineys, families that live near the Barrens and are generally looked down on by the rest of the people in Jack’s small city. They have secrets of their own and Jack ends up forging a tentative alliance with one of them named Levi in order to carry out his plans.

As it turns out, Levi is working on his own secret vengeance, on behalf of Marcie Kurek, a girl who had been murdered some time earlier. They solve that mystery as well.

Throughout the three books Wilson introduces a number of characters with strange abilities. There is the drugged Viet Name veteran who has the ability to heal others. There is the mysterious Mrs. C. who appears to know all sorts of strange things and seemingly has the power to appear out of thin air. She’s said to be a witch, but teenage Jack doesn’t believe in witches. He will come to revise that opinion as he gets older.

-30-

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