There went another all-nighter spent tearing thru F. Paul Wilson's new book HARBINGERS. This author is so good at laying that trap for his readers. You know, the one that makes you go, "Okay, just one more chapter, really - and then, I'll go to sleep." Well, after the not-as-good INFERNAL, Repairman Jack is back and never better than in this new installment. And, this time out, Jack is run thru the wringer like he's never been before. But, as usual, Jack finds a way to "fix" things. Well, kind of.
SPOILERS begin: About a month has elapsed since the events of INFERNAL. Jack hasn't been himself for the past weeks, feeling lethargic, indifferent, and, well, depressed. He hasn't taken a "fix-it" job in a while, and he still doesn't feel like taking one. But he just can't say no to Timmy O'Brien, one of the regulars at Julio's bar. Timmy asks Jack to look into the disappearance of his teenage niece, Cailin. Jack's efforts lead him to a vigilante-minded trio dressed in black and sunglasses. A game of cat-and-mouse with the trio directs Jack to a warehouse in the Bronx, where he learns of the Yeniceri (Jannisaries), an elite task force thousands of years old. There, he encounters one of the Oculi, which is a group of men and women who act as conduits for the Ally (if you don't know about the Ally, the Adversary, the Otherness, the Sentinel, and the Heir, don't worry; the book lucidly explains all). Jack is asked to join the ranks of the Yeniceri to help combat the Otherness, a malignant, all-powerful presence intent on possessing and remaking our world, and not for the better. Jack is torn between his loner mindset and the lure of being involved in something that could actually prove to be effective against that old evil. But, whichever choice he makes, there are no more coincidences in his life.
Believe me, so much more stuff goes on than what's mentioned above. There's an update on Jack's attempt to legalize his identity (he's gonna be a dad, after all). Our favorite F. Paul Wilson boogeyman makes an appearance and once again wields his seemingly limitless powers and continues to taunt Jack. Another enigmatic woman with a dog shows up. The three people Jack loves most are again imperiled, this time by an unlikely source. Cat and mouse games abound, both on a personal and a cosmic level. And, as usual, Jack gets a chance to get his "fix" on, most especially, late in the book, in the warehouse sequence where he pretty much toys and then disposes of four, highly skilled bad dudes.
Fair warning. Although, in past books, Jack's circle of family and friends have been steadily decimated, HARBINGERS really raises the stakes in terms of his loved ones being placed in jeopardy. This, probably, is as close to the breaking point that Jack has ever gotten. And the fact that he resolutely refuses to give up hope and keeps on chugging, doing his best to fix things, is one of the many reasons Repairman Jack is one of my all-time favorite literary characters. Not in his normal "fix-it" gigs, but, rather, in the grand scheme of things, Repairman Jack is so much an underdog. He's trapped in a situation he desperately doesn't want to be in and placed in an unenviable position where he's slated to be the champion designated to face off against an all-powerful, malevolent, cosmic awareness. Yet, he remains...plucky and defiant and very human. Man, I love this dude. Like the book blurb said - when the fit hits the shan, you call Repairman Jack.