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Hosts: A Repairman Jack Novel    by F. Paul Wilson order for
by F. Paul Wilson
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2003 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

This installment of Wilson's long-running Repairman Jack series is something of a prequel to The Haunted Air. It's the story of Jack's short-lived yet very touching reunion with his long-estranged elder sister Kate. She's quick to believe that their unexpected meeting is a happy coincidence after a mysterious referral leads her to Jack and his special services, but he knows better. Minions from the Otherness have warned Jack that coincidence and fate do not have a place in his life or in events that are yet to come.

Kate tells her brother that she's in New York to care for her lover. Jeannette is a brain tumor patient, whose behavior has turned increasingly bizarre since her recent miraculous recovery. The warm, fiercely independent woman loved by Kate is gone, replaced by someone who seems controlled by a cult mentality. Kate, a practicing physician, has ruled out anything physical and now suspects Jeannette's behavior is directly linked to the experimental treatment she received. Kate further explains that she wants more than anything to help Jeannette, but can't risk involving the police or other legitimate investigators for fear of exposing her sexuality and her lover, a part of her life she's vowed to keep secret until her two children are older.

Jack soon discovers that the virus used in Jeannette's treatment has achieved a consciousness of its own, linking patients treated with it to its greater self. Within days they will be dispersed across the continent to go off as human 'time bombs' in highly populated areas. The virus they carry will quickly spread, infecting the entire planet and ultimately linking all humans as one within the 'Unity'. Though Kate is stunned by these unbelievable revelations, Jack doesn't bat an eye since everything he's uncovered seems linked to the Otherness. Using his special contacts and skills he does what he does best -- puts a stop to the Unity. To make matters worse in his race against time, he must also preserve his own anonymity, which is about to be compromised by a crusading reporter determined to expose him to the public as 'The Savior', after Jack intervenes in a subway shooting spree.

In Hosts, F. Paul Wilson succeeds once again in juggling various fresh and intriguing sub-plots, while keeping a tight rein on the marvelously mysterious supernatural thread that ties the whole series together. Great characterizations, not only in Jack's evolving persona, but also in recurring and new secondaries (including some comic relief in the form of two revenge-crazed brothers bent on taking out Jack for destroying their business) add up to another unforgettable story. Keep an eye out for Gateways, the next installment in the Repairman Jack series.

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