cover image All the Rage

All the Rage

F. Paul Wilson, Paul F. Wilson. Forge, $25.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86796-6

Wilson's conscientious urban mercenary, Repairman Jack, debuted in The Tomb (1984), which was a national bestseller and later a film. Neither Wilson nor Jack are quite the draw they were then, and so Jack's fourth novel-length adventure probably won't hit general lists, though it will do well on specialized ones. Jack takes personal assignments that subtly reflect larger, more pervasive problems in the body politic. In his spellbinding new outing - the most intricate and energetically plotted since The Tomb - he tackles the rising tide of aggressive behavior inundating contemporary society. When he takes a retainer from research chemist Nadia Razminsky to investigate the shady relationship between Dr. Luc Monnet and expatriate Serbian gangster Milos Dragovic, Jack knows that Dragovic has bought into the American dream with millions made in illicit drug trafficking. Through a series of intrigues that cut perilously close to home and threaten longtime girlfriend Gia and her daughter, Vicky, he discovers that GEM Pharma, Monnet's private pharmaceutical company and Nadia's employer, is supplying Dragovic with a designer super-steroid (sold on the street as ""Berzerk"") that boosts bestial behavior in its users. En route to vanquishing the villains with an actual taste of their own medicine, Jack must save the lives of Nadia and her lover, confront the sideshow monster whose blood supplies the drug and recover from an accidental dosing that sends him on an uncharacteristic - but thrillingly sustained - egomaniacal rampage through New York City. Wilson (Conspiracies) skillfully juggles subplots whose unpredictable collisions and complications further accelerate the relentless momentum of Jack's labors. What's more, he weaves seamlessly into the story's fabric pet social critiques that in past episodes have stuck out like cranky harangues. A satisfying open-ended climax sets the stage for yet another chapter in Jack's compelling saga. (Oct.)