Written by: Wayne C. Rogers
The Haunted Air by F. Paul Wilson–author of The Keep, The Tomb, All the Rage, Hosts, By the Sword, Crisscross, Legacies, The Dark at the End, Cold City, Dark City, and a dozen more–is the sixth “Repairman Jack” novel in this utterly fantastic series about one man’s attempt to protect himself and the people he loves from an evil supernatural phenomenon known simply as the “Otherness.”
This novel is certainly a lot longer (514pp. of very small print) than the previous books in the series, and I would probably have to say that it’s also the best of those before it, which is a mouthful, considering how well written most the other novels are.
This time around, the story centers on two brothers, Lyle and Charlie Kenton, whom Jack develops a close relationship with. The brothers are two psychic scam artists who have the perfect setup with their supposedly haunted house in a suburb of Queens, giving mystical readings to the rich wives and widows who want answers about the their impending future. Except for threats and gunshot warnings from some of the local psychic competitors, everything is going fairly good for the brothers until Jack and his girlfriend, Gia, show up one night with friends who want a reading from them. A mild earthquake takes place as soon as Jack and Gia start to enter the house. This cracks open the concrete floor in the basement, releasing the spirit of a murdered girl that now wants revenge against the people who killed her.
Jack, who’s still recovering from the death of his sister (see Hosts), unexpectedly finds himself caught up in the brothers’ dilemma as he attempts to find out who’s been threatening them and as another case he’s working on begins to tie in with the death of the little girl. While all of this is going on, Gia finds out that she’s pregnant with Jack’s baby and begins to worry that he may not want to give up his secret life in order to become an actual parent for the child. What neither one of them realizes is that the “Otherness” is back and wants the unborn baby for its own obscene purposes.
As my mama used to say-when it rains, it pours!
In The Haunted Air, the author delves more deeply into the personality of Repairman Jack as the character is forced to make an important decision about his life and the lives of the people closest to him. Jack’s not even sure it’s possible for him to become a citizen without facing heavy fines for tax evasion and jail time for breaking the law. Gia also has to make a life-changing decision with regards to her feelings for Jack and what having his child may mean to her own goals and desires. Mr. Wilson makes these two characters appear more human and their choices in life more complex.
Another thing that interested me was the discussions throughout the book on the nature of faith, religion, The Bible, God, and the essence of “good” and “evil.” I found this to be very interesting and thought-provoking.
One thing to keep in mind about the “Repairman Jack” novels is that all of them take place during the mid-eighties within a two-year time frame, though some of the technology is present day and references are made to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centers, and the murdered child was supposedly killed in the late eighties. And let’s not forget all of the references to current music. This can get pretty confusing if you allow yourself to even think about it for a moment. The best thing to do is simply enjoy the ride for what it is. There’s also a connection within this book to Mr. Wilson’s first novel, The Keep (the stone blocks from Romania).
Finally, a really nice addition to this series is the introduction of the Kenton brothers. These are two guys that kind of grow on you as the book moves along, and you find yourself hoping that the author will bring them back in a future novel, or at least one of them. With prose that’s razor sharp, a more intricate plot, and stronger character development, I know F. Paul Wilson’s legions of fans will grow even larger after reading The Haunted Air.
Order the novel right here.