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Fear City (Repairman Jack: The Early Years #3)
F. Paul Wilson
Tor, 364 pages

F. Paul Wilson
F. Paul Wilson was born in 1946 in New Jersey. Early loves included Lovecraft, Matheson, Bradbury, and Heinlein. In 1968 he graduated from Georgetown University but began to sell short fiction while he was a first-year medical student. He has been writing fiction and practicing medicine ever since. Two of his novels, The Keep and The Tomb, have appeared on the New York Times Bestsellers List. He's still married to his high school sweetheart and live on the Jersey Shore.

F. Paul Wilson Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Haunted Air
SF Site Review: Hosts
SF Site Review: All The Rage
SF Site Review: Mirage
SF Site Review: The Barrens and Others
SF Site Review: Masque

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dave Truesdale

This is the final volume in the immensely popular Repairman Jack novels and stories F. Paul Wilson began writing well over twenty years ago. Fear City represents the third in a trilogy (Cold City, 2012 & Dark City, 2013) that predates the actual Repairman Jack novels Wilson brought to a close with the revised 2012 novel Nightworld. Fear City chronicles the early years of Jack's checkered (and ofttimes illegal) career before actually morphing into his Repairman character, and finally brings to his many readers the origin of his name. Known for his mixing of SF, horror, and mystery elements in the 16+ previous novels of the central Repairman Jack cycle, Wilson now takes us back to the eleven days prior to the first World Trade Center bombing in February of 1993 and reveals how Jack's sometimes nefarious and questionable friends inadvertently draw him into a harrowing and deadly adventure as the authorities, a "black ops" character, and Jack must thwart the real life terrorists (and the shadowy, well-connected uber-group of terrorist planners known as the Septimus Order who manipulate the actual terrorists for their own ends) who are eventually captured and jailed (or killed) for the original Trade Tower bombing -- which as we know was not totally successful. Real names and historical timelines are used as much as possible, though the events in the novel have been compressed from their real-time eight-week lead up to the bombing, to the eleven days of the novel.

As Wilson lays it out in his Afterword: On February 26, 1993, a Ryder van crammed with nitroglycerin, three cylinders of comprssed hydrogen, and three quarters of a ton of urea nitrate exploded at 12:17 P.M. in the parking basement of Tower One of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. It killed six people, injured a thousand more, and ripped through six floors of reinforced concrete. That is the real-life event that anchors the fiction of Fear City. Mahmoud Abouhalima, Mohammad Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, Ramzi Yousef, and Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman were all real-life participants. Aimal Kasi killed CIA employees waiting to turn into the Langley HQ.

Fear City is much more a high-energy, edge-of-the-seat suspense thriller -- and quite the page-turner -- than it is a genre novel, for it does not include any SFnal, supernatural, or horror elements. Well, no horror unless you count several absolutely horrific scenes of the most diabolically demented torture I have ever heard of -- the conception of which is beyond the pale for the never-ending hell its victims must suffer. Even now it is a hard thing to think about. Thus, it can be read and thoroughly enjoyed by those whose bread and butter is a taut, ticking time bomb tale based on (but with some creative fabrication around the edges) historical events, as well as those who have read and loved all of the previous Repairman Jack adventures. I would note that it is not necessary to have read any of the previous books or intermittent stories to fully enjoy this one. Wilson also sends word to the many faithful fans of the Repairman Jack novels that this is definitely the final one, and that after turning in a new one every fall for the last umpty years it is time for a change. In his own words: "I'm not saying I will never write another Repairman Jack novel. If an idea pops up that's perfect for our guy, I won't hesitate to write that book. But the routine of a new Repairman Jack novel every fall is over." That said, Fear City is a dandy thrill ride of a note to end on.

Copyright © 2014 by Dave Truesdale

Dave Truesdale has edited Tangent and now Tangent Online since 1993. It has been nominated for the Hugo Award four times, and the World Fantasy Award once. A former editor of the Bulletin of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, he also served as a World Fantasy Award judge in 1998, and for several years wrote an original online column for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Now retired, he keeps close company with his SF/F library, the coffeepot, and old movie channels on TV. He lives in Kansas City, MO.

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