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The Haunted Air: A Repairman Jack Novel    by F. Paul Wilson order for
Haunted Air
by F. Paul Wilson
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2002 (2002)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

After the death of his long estranged sister at the hands of his ongoing and deadly nemesis 'the Otherness', New York's urban equalizer Repairman Jack hasn't been much in the mood to take on somebody else's problems. When girlfriend Gia nudges him into escorting one of her friends to a spiritualist's house for a consultation about a lost good luck charm, she manages to inadvertently involve Jack in what will in short order, become his next case. Or does she? Who or what is really influencing Jack's life? Minions from the Otherness had warned them both that the events shaping their lives did not involve anything as trivial as coincidences.

A consummate scam artist when the need arises, Jack is immediately impressed as he watches brothers Kenton, Lyle and Charles skilfully work the room in their spirit medium roles. Their home, the infamous Menelaus Manor, already the scene of various grisly and unexplainable deaths over the years, only adds to their spooky act. Jack is well aware that the brothers have rigged the place with all manner of high tech gadgetry and that they're well versed in insider tricks of the spiritualist trade to assure their sitters become true believers and return clients. In due course Ifasen, as Lyle Kenton dubs himself, leaves everyone but Jack totally amazed by various revelations of his 'spirit guides'. Jack is happy to see the last of the Kentons, but when the brothers become the target of another greedy psychic who wants to put them out of business permanently, they hire Jack to fix their problem.

A second case that comes Jack's way on the heels of the first puts him on the trail of a cult of ritualistic child murderers whose victims are linked to Menelaus Manor. Within days one of the dead children begins haunting Jack, Gia and the Kenton brothers for real. As if that isn't enough, Gia is pregnant, a revelation that leaves Jack stunned, and then excited over his impending fatherhood. But his elation doesn't last long after Gia points out that if he wants to participate fully in their baby's upbringing, his way of life will have to change. Jack would no longer be able to walk the fringes of society in the relative anonymity that is so important for his particular line of work.

Wilson keeps the spook meter on high with The Haunted Air, the latest addition to his smart and consistently entertaining Repairman Jack series. He does another consummate job of juggling continuing plot threads as well as introducing a few new ones. One that takes us back to an earlier novel, The Keep, will leave fans wondering how this particular twist is going to affect the story. There are no Rakosh this time around to threaten Jack or Gia, but repeated references to these malevolent creatures, the encroaching Otherness and the ongoing threat it presents is felt in every page. Best of all, Jack's character continues to evolve and maybe even mellow a bit now that he's about to become a father. How's it all going to end? We'll have to wait to see what F. Paul Wilson cooks up in his next Repairman Jack novel!

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