Book Review: Cold City by F. Paul Wilson—and a Giveaway

Cold CityCold City: A Repairman Jack Novel
The Early Years Trilogy Book One

F. Paul Wilson
Tor, November 2012
ISBN 978-0-7653-3014-7

From the publisher—

The first of three Repairman Jack prequels, revealing the past of one of the most popular characters in contemporary dark fantasy: a self-styled “fix-it” man who is no stranger to the macabre or the supernatural, hired by victimized people who have no one else to turn to.


We join Jack a few months after his arrival in New York City. He doesn’t own a gun yet, though he’s already connected with Abe. Soon he’ll meet Julio and the Mikulski brothers. He runs afoul of some Dominicans, winds up at the East Side Marriott the night Meir Kahane is shot, gets on the bad side of some Arabs, starts a hot affair, and disrupts the smuggling of preteen sex slaves. And that’s just Book One.

Sigh. I adore Repairman Jack and, along with all his other fans, I hate that his story has come to an end. Sort of. Being a kind man, F. Paul Wilson took pity after the final story, Nightworld, and has a three-part prequel for us telling how Repairman Jack got to be…well, Repairman Jack. Cold City is the first of that trilogy.

I’ve “known” Jack for years, since I first discovered The Tomb along about 1996. That book actually came out in 1984 but I was behind the times. (My introduction to Mr. Wilson‘s work was The Keep, first in another series which also includes The Tomb, but don’t let me confuse you.) The Repairman Jack series relies heavily on the supernatural and that is what sets Cold City apart.

This book is essentially a straight crime novel, something new and different for Jack fans, and it works beautifully. Jack is a young man who has just dropped out of college and headed to Manhattan where he plans to lose himself, to become invisible, and he manages to do so surprisingly well. Unfortunately, under-the-table jobs that pay decently are hard to come by so, when he loses the one he had, he finds himself at loose ends. Agreeing to drive trucks full of contraband cigarettes starts him off on a path of collision with a variety of less-than-stellar factions and the fun begins.

And fun it is amongst all the bad stuff that can happen in a crime novel. We see Jack becoming a man who wants to fix things for other people, a trait that will be at his core for years to come. Jack appeals to that small part of so many readers who revel just a little in retribution and vigilante justice. He’s the one who takes care of things when other people are vulnerable and we love him for this. Getting to watch Jack grow into this man is not only entertaining; Cold City takes us on the beginning of a fascinating journey. I envy all the new readers who will find Repairman Jack for the first time but this is an excellent place to begin and you’ll have lots of books to enjoy after this one.

P.S. I had the good fortune to meet Paul Wilson when he agreed to do a signing at our bookstore, Creatures ‘n Crooks Bookshoppe, on Black Friday 2001 (I think I’ve got the year right). I found that he is not only a really good writer—he’s also a very nice person. I really appreciate it when those two elements come together, don’t you?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2012.

Leave a comment below to enter the drawing for a copy of Cold City

by F. Paul Wilson. The winning name will be drawn Sunday evening,

December 2nd. This contest is open to residents of the US and Canada.