Legacies: F. Paul Wilson

“You don’t know Jack!

Chances are you might have been accused of that more than once.

You probably don’t know this Jack. Repairman Jack is back after a 14-year hiatus (1984-1998). You should get to know him; Jack is my favourite New York character since Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder and Bernie Rhodenbarr and F. Paul Wilson adds another roughly dozen books after this one.

Repairman Jack isn’t your average appliance repairman–he fixes situations for people, often risking his own life. Jack has no last name, no social security number, works only for cash, and has no qualms when it comes to seeing that the job gets done.

“Righteous” is the word I often see on reviews of this book series, and it fits. The writing, the character, the ambience: all are indeed “righteous.”

This one focuses on a technological secret that could change the world, but F. Paul doesn’t let it overwhelm the story the way it often does in other series.

The Big Kahuna: Janet Evanovitch

After hitting the jackpot with her light, fluffy Stephanie Plum numbered series, Evanovitch has fully franchised out the formula, applying it to a number of Plum knock-offs with a variety of guest writers.

If the Plum series was mindless beach towel drivel, this is even more watered down; the characters are simply renamed and dropped in different situations, all of which are ludicrously unreal.

This isn’t pop; it isn’t even pop rocks. It’s more like p…o…

Stalin’s Englishman/The Lives of Guy Burgess: Andrew Lownie

I’m not sure what Lownie wanted to accomplish in Stalin’s Englishman. If he wanted to provide entertainment, he failed. The book is filled with entire chapters of what Burgess ate and drank, what he bought and wore, and who he fucked or tried to — all without any comment on why we should care. If he wanted to provide heretofore unknown facts, he failed. Throwing in this level of detail would be laudatory if this were a primary source, but it’s simply sorting through already plentiful sources and just rearranging them and pretending it’s something new. The book is extensively footnoted, but little new is provided. If he wanted to provide analysis, he failed. Mundane unimportant facts are simply spread onto the page without adequate comment or attempt to explain either why Burgess did what he did, how much damage it caused within and without England, or what it meant going forward.

At one point in the book, Lownie quotes someone saying, “This is a bad unpleasant book about a bad, unpleasant man.”

That line itself explains the entire book.

Run Away: Harlan Coben

Coben’s recurring Myron Bolitar series remains my favourite of the Coben books, but each of his standalone novels contains the kernel of what makes all of his characters so compelling: unrelenting, pure, unresentful, selfless love for the others in their lives, be it child, parents, siblings, husband, wife or partner.

I love them all.