So, after all these years, it's goodbye to Repairman Jack. I'm a little choked up.

Jack and I go way back. In fact, the first F. Paul Wilson novel I read was The Tomb. This was back around 1985, when I was living in Seattle. I was a very enthusiastic horror reader at the time, and I had exhausted the existing works of Stephen King, Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell, Charles L. Grant, James Herbert, etc. I was always looking for something new.

The Downtown Seattle library was, and presumably is, a wonderful place for readers. They had the Whispers Press edition of The Tomb on their shelf, and I greedily grabbed it and checked it out. Thus began a longterm relationship between Jack and I.

This isn't to say that I did not enjoy the other works by Wilson. Not at all. I consider Black Wind to be among his finest novels. I enjoyed all of his medical thrillers. Sibs is a top notch suspense story. Sims is the way science fiction should be written.

But Jack? There is something special about the character. It was evident right away when I started The Tomb.

Maybe it was Jack's enjoyment of James Whale movies. That certainly didn't hurt the character's likability. There is, however, much more to it than that.

Repairman Jack is the guy many of us would like to be. He's tough, but fair. He can be funny, but he isn't some wise-cracking dope of a hero.

Jack takes care of business. Most of us are limited to going about our daily business. Patting ourselves on the back for voting, maybe helping out a stray animal, or donating to a charity now and then.

Surely all of the fans of The Tomb hungered to see Repairman Jack return to the pages of F. Paul Wilson books. He showed up in short stories now and then, and we were grateful.

Then our hopes were fulfilled when a full-length Repairman Jack was published in 1998. The book is Legacies, and I consider it to be one of the best in the series. Not only that, I think Legacies is a perfect introduction to the character and to the work of F. Paul Wilson.

Jack's adventures really kicked into gear at that point, and Wilson ingeniously wove Repairman Jack into his Adversary Cycle of novels and stories.

Faithful readers followed Jack through give or take twenty novels as we watched the cataclysmic events in the stories unravel. Wilson took us back to Jack's childhood with a trio of YA stories. And, finally, he came full circle and chronicled Repairman Jack's early days in NYC.

The third of that series, and purportedly the final Jack story, has just been published. It is appropriately called Fear City.

F. Paul Wilson is not what you'd normally consider to be a hardcore writer of gore or violence. He's definitely no Edward Lee. However, there are scenes in Fear City that really disturbed this jaded old genre reader. Come to think of it, I just listened to the audio presentation of Reprisal, and that book has some pretty unnerving elements in it as well.

It's a good thing that Paul is putting Jack behind him. No writer should stay in one place for so long. Still, I'll miss Jack. Badly. Very badly.

But maybe F. Paul Wilson won't be able to resist returning to Repairman Jack in the future. Was Arthur Conan Doyle able to stay away from his most famous creation? Part of me hopes this isn't really the end. In the meantime, I anxiously await whatever thrills and chills F. Paul Wilson has in store for his many readers in the immediate future.

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