Friday, December 5, 2014

All the Rage (2000) and Hosts (2001) by F. Paul Wilson

All the Rage (Repairman Jack 4) by F. Paul Wilson (2000): F. Paul Wilson's libertarian super-fixer returns. Jack's life keeps getting weirder as the massive cosmic battle between the Ally and the Otherness continues to escalate on Earth, and specifically in New York and New Jersey, Jack's primary stomping grounds.

This time around, Jack seeks to discover the source of a designer drug that makes its users feel invincible, and then compels them to commit acts of random and extreme violence. It's a solid entry in the series, albeit one with several dozen pages of skimmable moments. Along the way, we get several speeches about gun control and individual rights that, along with being glib, tend to stop the action dead. Oh, well. Recommended.

Hosts (Repairman Jack 5) by F. Paul Wilson (2001): Jack's back. So is Kate, his older sister, a successful pediatrician he hasn't seen in years. Her lesbian partner has turned weird after a seemingly successful treatment for brain cancer, so Kate phones Jack's business number to get help not knowing that Repairman Jack is also brother Jack. So we learn a bit more about Jack's personal history along the way.

It's the invading reality dubbed The Otherness again. This time around, it's using viruses to further its Earth-conquering goals. It's all a fairly plot-intensive romp, though Wilson's love of killing supporting characters really begins to shift into high gear. Really high gear. So be warned. Also, more lectures about gun control (Jack's against it) and taxes (Jack's against them, too). Recommended.

The Haunted Air (Repairman Jack 6) by F. Paul Wilson (2002): The first half of The Haunted Air is deeply satisfying in its choice of subject matter -- psychic frauds and the methods they use to be frauds. It's fun stuff, especially as Jack has been hired by one such fraud because he seems to have developed a 'real' supernatural problem: a haunted house.

Wilson's choice of the world of mediums and psychics is inspired. So, too, is the bizarre and murderous cult he invents, a cult whose murderous shenanigans eventually tie into the haunted house plot. It's really fun, breezy stuff -- well, as fun as the grim subject matter can be. Stay tuned for more lectures on the libertarian lifestyle, and one of Wilson's recurring riffs on the evils of Marcel Proust. Bonus points arise from the title, a quote from John Keats that's actually explained in the text. All this and a guest appearance of the Keep from Wilson's The Keep. A literal guest appearance. The Keep comes to Brooklyn! Recommended.

CrissCross (Repairman Jack 8) by F. Paul Wilson (2004): Wilson balances some of his most enjoyable, conspiracy-oriented world-building with some of the most brutal violence of the Repairman Jack series in this novel. We're introduced to Dormentalism, a New-Agey cult with more than a passing resemblance to Scientology by way of Mormonism. We're also introduced to a malignant supernatural tome, a piece of human skin that can neither be destroyed or lost by Jack, a nun with a problem, a squirmy blackmailer, an intrepid reporter, and the Opus Omega.

That last, the secret goal of Dormentalism, gets explained by the end of the text. Wilson's inventiveness really sings in the explanation of Dormentalism's secret history, its organizational structure, and its surface philosophy.Just don't get too attached to any of the supporting characters. Wilson's got a fever, and the only cure is more dead supporting characters! Recommended.

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