[Note: I was given an advance review copy of the upcoming Repairman Jack novel, The Last Christmas by F. Paul Wilson (hardback available for pre-order). Here are my thoughts.]
This book takes a while to get going, but once it does, it’s as good as any Repairman Jack novel, and better than many. The author, as usual, manages to insert unexpected plot twists and stuff that you don’t see coming but that just make sense in hindsight. Fans are given more information about Madame de Medici who was briefly introduced in the short story Infernal Night.
The story takes place in December of “year zero minus one” of the Secret History, 2½ years after the events of The Tomb and five months prior to the end of the series in Nightworld. Jack has lost all of his family and his unborn daughter Emma, and is in a depressive funk. He reluctantly takes on two repairman jobs, and over the course of the novel comes back to life.
Job #1 involves a stolen relic. For those familiar with the Secret History, the relic is one of the Seven Infernals and the owner believes it can cure his terminal cancer. The thief is Madame de Medici, and she hires Jack to keep it safe until the man dies. The owner hires an unusual private investigator named Tier Hill who turns out to be quite interesting and is a challenge for Jack to deal with.
Job #2 involves recovering an escaped genetically-engineered wolf/ape hybrid for two government scientists. And while the associated plot twist was obvious well before being officially revealed, the rest of the story afterward was intriguing and at one point quite literally had me in tears.
Both jobs end up becoming intertwined, leading to a satisfactory resolution. Fans will get a good dose of the Secret History, while others will experience Jack at the top of his game—if they can hang in there long enough to get past the slow start.
At the halfway point of this book I didn’t have high hopes for a good review. But the last half more than made up for the slow start. I give 5/5 stars. Recommended for fans and non-fans alike.