Review: Dark City
Do you remember the first F. Paul Wilson book you read? I do. For a lot of us, it was THE TOMB. I was working at Waldenbooks, stocking the shelves, and I came across the paperback. I took a moment (totally on company time) to read the back, and then I proceeded to stash to book away so I could buy it at the end of my shift. I read the novel. I loved the novel. I’ve been a fan ever since.
DARK CITY is the second novel in the Repairman Jack: Early Years Trilogy. I read and loved the first novel, COLD CITY (see the review here), and I kinda figured I was going to enjoy this one as well. Shocker: I loved DARK CITY.
This novel picks up directly after the events of the first one in the trilogy. Jack is figuring out who he is, and who he wants to be. He’s learning the art of the “fix”. And true to form, he is roped into extraordinary events.
What I liked most about DARK CITY was seeing Jack really becoming an active participant. He was kind of taken along for a ride in the first novel, and here we get to see him make tough choices, and clever choices. All of that ruthlessness we see in the other Repairman Jack novels? Well, we get to see some of those origins here. For example, we finally get to see how Julio ends up with the bar. It’s classic Jack, and deliciously fun to read as Jack’s plan unfolds.
The first novel dealt with Jack’s involvement in the breaking up of a child trafficking deal. It was pretty dark, and very brutal. In this novel, Jack is dealing with the consequences of those actions he took. I don’t just mean in a physical way with people trying to exact revenge upon him (though there is that angle here too). The whole business causes a mentality change. Consequences of morality, and mentality. It’s here that we truly see the Jack that we will know and love in later novels.
I’m not going to lie, I was having trouble with a mob side-story that runs through the novel. At first it felt aimless, and I was beginning to wonder if it was filler. And then Wilson brought it firmly into one of Jack’s “fixes”, and then solidified it as being important in the next novel. It takes a special and experienced kind of author to pull of something like that. Having read a lot of Wilson’s fiction, I think it shows more than anything that he is still progressing as an author. Think about that for a moment. There are a lot of authors that tend to rest on their past success. But I never feel that way with F. Paul Wilson. I always feel like his newest novel is his best effort, and that he is always looking to wow the reader.
It’s hard to talk much about this novel without getting into specifics about both it and it’s predecessor. Here is what I will say: he manages to tie mob stories, terrorism, Jack’s “fixes”, child trafficking, and his ever-present Secret History of the World into one streamlined plot. That’s what we read the Repairman Jack novels for, after all. The action, the characters, the “fixes” great and small. It’s all here with rough edges–not because of poor writing, but rather because of great writing.
Seeing the unrefined Jack is what makes this trilogy so much fun.
I’ll point this out again: if you have ever felt the prospect of reading this series to be a bit daunting, start with the Early Years trilogy. It is a terrific place to start for the first time, or to be refreshed on how awesome this character is.
Recommended Age: 17+
Profanity: Well yeah. A bunch.
Violence: There wasn’t anything really gory in this novel. It’s violent, sure, but it’s never over the top.
Sex: No explicit scenes, but Jack’s “girlfriend” is super crass. So is Jack’s gay friend.
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