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F. Paul Wilson

Forge / Tor

US Trade Hardcover

ISBN 0-312-86414-0

Publication Date: 08-1998

381 pages; $24.95

Date Reviewed: 09-14-98  

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 2002



Horror, Science Fiction, Mystery

08-26-02, 12-06-02, 01-07-03

One of the most prominent means of making horror fiction emotionally enjoyable for the reader is to satisfy the ever-present thirst for revenge. 'Legacies', the latest novel from F. Paul Wilson, demonstrates that contrary to the old cliche, revenge is a dish best served up by an excellent writer. 'Legacies' brings back Reparirman Jack, a character that Wilson created 15 years ago in 'The Tomb', and who has appeared in several short stories in the intervening years. Jack is a literary equivalent of 'The Equalizer', a man who has no last name, no social security number and a talent for solving problems that the law cannot deal with. 'Legacies' gives both Repairman Jack and F. Paul Wilson ample room to demonstrate their talents.

Dr. Alicia Clayton, a pediatrician who works with infants and children who have AIDS would like to leave her legacies behind her. But she's inherited her father's house, a house, like her, with a secret. Her half-brother, backed by powerful forces, wants the house. She does not want to give in, but does not know where to turn. meanwhile, someone has stolen the Christmas toys donated for the kids at her hospital. This does not look like a job the police can solve in time. And thus, Repairman Jack enters her life.

In 'Legacies', Wilson skillfully juggles several plots simultaneously, weaving the equivalent of three or four Repairman Jack short stories seamlessly into his novel. The reader knows that each of these plots will eventually yield up one or more artfully described, emotionally satisfying set-pieces wherein Jack will really stick it to someone very deserving. Wilson manages these pieces effectively on two scales. On one hand, the reader enjoys his auctorial emotional manipulation, the satisfaction of seeing justice meted out in a patently unjust world. On the other hand, readers will relish his ability to clearly describe scenes of action in a memorable and comprehensible manner. In these scenes, he is reminscent of Dean Koontz at his best, playing out the actions of characters across the vividly imagined big screen of the reader's mind.

As the smaller problems in the novel are solved, 'Legacies' moved towards the big problem, that of Alicia's inheritance. Alas, the macguffin here is not quite as strong as it could be, but Wilson counteracts that with a fully satisfying resolution, a grand gesture as gratifying as flipping the bird via CNN. 'Legacies' leaves Wilson with a formidable legacy of his own -- to follow up this novel a lot sooner, because upon completing 'Legacies', readers will want to know that another Repairman Jack novel is coming sooner rather than later.