cover image THE HAUNTED AIR: A Repairman Jack Novel

THE HAUNTED AIR: A Repairman Jack Novel

F. Paul Wilson, . . Forge, $24.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-312-87868-9

This sixth novel in Wilson's gutsy Repairman Jack series (after Hosts) teams the righteous urban mercenary with his strangest bedfellows yet: a pair of sham spirit mediums who openly operate their occult con game out of a brownstone in Queens. His hardboiled skepticism notwithstanding, Jack takes the case of brothers Lyle and Charlie Kenton, who've been threatened by other Big Apple pseudo-psychics for horning in on the lucrative seance scene. No sooner has Jack begun using the tricks of the spiritualist trade on the Kentons' persecutors than real ghosts begin popping up along with a secret cult of ritual child murderers. As though this weren't enough, Jack is also confronted with imminent and unexpected fatherhood, which may force him to forsake the anonymity crucial to his underground enterprises. Readers know they can count on Wilson to weave the most unruly narrative strands into a tight Gordian plot and he doesn't disappoint here. Though heavy with talk and weak attempts at hip-hop jargon, the tale still speeds briskly to its spooky climax, subtly referencing other books in Wilson's canon (notably The Keep) and developing Jack's role as a warrior against the malignant cosmic force he calls "the Otherness." Above all, the novel enhances the enigma of Jack, a hero who commands respect despite his curmudgeonly disdain for contemporary culture, his morally ambiguous work-for-hire ethic and his unsettling appeal to the vigilante in every reader. (Dec. 4)