The Haunted Air

Reviewed: January 1, 2008
By: F. Paul Wilson
Publisher: TOR Books
532 pages, $10.99

It’s been a while since I’ve looked in on the adventures of Repairman Jack. Jack lives under the radar and off the books, and is the guy you go to to solve problems that other people can’t understand and can’t deal with - a sort of combination private eye and fixer.

When it comes to the supernatural, Jack is a skeptic, but he keeps running into situations which test his lack of belief. When it was simply strange, but corporeal, monsters, he could chalk it up to having come across something in the real world that not much is known about, but lately it’s been worse than that. Jack’s been given very strong evidence that there is a war going on between higher powers and that he has somehow been involuntarily drafted as a soldier on the side of the Light in a battle of cosmic proportions.

While seeing himself still in the role of a mystic debunker, Jack ends up taking two cases which coincidentally (oh - but there are no coincidences in his life, or so he’s been told) turn out to be connected. One seems to be a simple case of protecting a downtown merchant from coming to harm. The other seems to be a simple case of stopping one medium from harassing another.

The emphasis here will have to be on the word “seems,” because neither case turns out to be that simple. Shadowing the man he has been hired to protect, Jack finds that this fellow seems to be involved in child molestation and he takes care of that problem. Having conned the cons who were going after his second client, he finds that they were only part of the problem, and that Ifasen the psychic (AKA Lyle Kenton and his brother, Charlie) have a lot more than a jealous competitor to worry about. Menelaus Manor has a deep, dark secret and a spectral inhabitant who wants vengeance.

Meantime, Jack has to deal with the fact that his lady friend, Gia, is going to have his child, and that he might have to give up his off-the-grid lifestyle in order to be her proper father. He is helped in making up his mind as the story progresses. It turns out that the child molesters were looking for something other than sex and that Gia’s daughter, Vicky, has become a potential target for them.

While Jack’s point of view is the main one here, we also send time with Gia, Lyle, Charlie and even a few of the bad guys, as well as the ghost of Menelaus Manor. The mix makes for an interesting tale.