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.

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.

American Spy: Lauren Wilkinson

Another debut novel.

There is a good book buried in here. Somewhere.

I couldn’t find it. However, you might.

I couldn’t get through and past the bizarre 1st person narrative voice, variously addressed to one of her twin sons — it’s not often clear which, and she repeatedly, confusingly, keeps referring to people through their relationship to her sons when we aren’t clear what those are — who aren’t even present for most of the novel.

The time jumps are confusing.

I guessed the plot just halfway through.

As I said, I couldn’t find enough good to outweigh all that.

You might.

Canto for a Gypsy: Martin Cruz Smith

Seriously?

It’s hard to believe the same author that wrote the Arkady Renko and December 6 masterpieces provided us with this (yes, it’s an early novel, before MCS found his ‘feet,’ but still…).

I am a sucker for fiction about Hungary, a nation that went from superpower to irrelevancy in a few mere years and it sits far outside our general sphere of recognition today.
Unfortunately, you won’t find much to keep you here.
Try David Downing’s “Station” novels instead.

The Burglar in the Closet: Lawrence Block

My last review was of a book by Nancy Kress, a Writer’s Digest columnist. Today’s book was also written by a former columnist for the same magazine, Lawrence Block.

I have been a fan of Block’s, a repeat Edgar Award writer, for many years.

His Bernie Rhodenbarr “burglar” series was probably my least favourite of his several serials. Recently, I re-read his 2nd entry in the series, “The Burglar in the Closet.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I remember his other series. Either I or this work haven’t aged well. The writing is a bit too “loose,” with too many coincidences and self-expository passages to make it a good read.

The reader would do well to try Block’s “Scudder” series, or even the “Evan Tanner” offerings.

High Heat: Lee Child

Just think. A sixteen-year-old Reacher in New York City, alone, looking for good music and a chance to get lucky. Just think. New York in the middle of the blackout in a heat wave and Son of Sam stalking Reacher and his date as his luck plays out. Just think. Reacher’s sense of chivalry putting him between a tainted FBI agent and the mob leader she’s trying to bring down. Just think. A preternaturally mature Reacher bringing his finely honed sense of honour and inborn confrontation skills into play well before he becomes the man we know form the series. Just think. High Heat. Sucky ending, though.