Crisscross, by F. Paul Wilson

Crisscross, by F. Paul Wilson book coverGenre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Gauntlet Press
Published: 2004
Reviewer Rating: four stars
Book Review by Ray Wallace

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Repairman Jack is back in his eighth novel, this one entitled Crisscross, depicting his ongoing battle against the forces of the Otherness – – the great, cosmic power apparently bent on the destruction of life on Earth as we know it. (The previous seven novels were, in order, THE TOMB, LEGACIES, CONSPIRIACIES, ALL THE RAGE, HOSTS, THE HAUNTED AIR, and GATEWAYS.) In this latest adventure, Jack has returned from a little foray in sunny Florida to his usual stomping grounds of New York City. Almost immediately he finds himself involved in a couple of “fixes”, one dealing with a nun who is being blackmailed over some pictures that could ruin her relationship with the Church, the other with an elderly lady who needs Jack’s help locating her son from whom she has received no word for quite some time now. Little does he know how two seemingly simple, straightforward jobs are about to twist in ways that will lead to some of the more violent solutions he has ever had to employ.

For those readers unfamiliar with this character, Jack is the guy that people hire when they have a problem that cannot be solved through legal means or if it is a sensitive situation that they simply wish to keep quiet. Now Jack is no hired gun, simply killing the person responsible for said problem is not his MO. When a “fix” goes perfectly the only person who ever knows Jack was involved at all was the person who hired him. And all they know is that he is a very average looking guy named Jack. He definitely likes to keep a low profile. And for good reason. Jack works and lives outside the law, has no tax records or social security number, doesn’t exist as far as the government is concerned, and has made quite a few enemies along the way. So anonymity is key to his ongoing survival. It is through word of mouth alone that Jack stays in business. And business is always good. There is no shortage of individuals in need of his very specific and unusual talents. And Jack is one guy who won’t quit until the job is done.

So, early in Crisscross Jack is contacted by the aforementioned nun who has learned of him from a priest he helped in an earlier book. It seems that there is a guy with some rather comprising pictures of the good sister that he is using as blackmail, demanding that she steal money from the church’s coffers in order to meet his demands. Jack soon discovers that he has dealt with this particular scumbag in the past and takes no small delight in setting him straight once again. But this time things don’t go according to plan and soon turn ugly forcing Jack to tap into the darkness within his soul in order to do to see that justice is done.

Jack is also hired by an affluent old lady who needs to get a message to her son, Johnny, from whom she has heard not a word for a few weeks now. It seems that Johnny has been spending a lot of time with the Dormentalists, a powerful church/cult very reminiscent of the Scientologists. Jack doesn’t normally do missing person fixes but something about this case intrigues him and the money is very good. So he finds himself seeking the aid of a local news reporter who’s been doing a little investigative journalism on this strange religion. Shortly thereafter Jack finds himself infiltrating the local Dormentalist temple to see if he can track down Johnny and pass on his mother’s message. Things quickly become much more complicated as Jack stumbles across some very strange goings on within the temple where he attracts the attention of none other than the head of the entire Dormentalist movement himself, Luther Brady. Could Brady be a pawn of the Otherness, the vast power Jack has apparently been recruited to do battle with? If so, Jack has to bring him down. The plan he hatches to do so and simultaneously take care of his little blackmailer friend ends up leading Jack along one of the darkest roads he has ever been forced to travel.

Crisscross is another exciting and well plotted addition to the ongoing Repairman Jack saga. Like the previous books this one stands well as a solo venture but is enriched by an understanding of what has happened before. One cannot help but wonder how or when the story will eventually draw to a close but I do know that I plan on being there when it does. This is one of the most consistently inventive series in modern dark fiction. If you have not yet read any of these books then do yourself a favor and pick one up immediately. And if you’ve been following Jack’s exploits up until this point then prepare to enjoy another highly entertaining Repairman Jack adventure.

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