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Secret Histories: Jack    by F. Paul Wilson order for
Secret Histories
by F. Paul Wilson
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

F. Paul Wilson, author of the bestselling Repairman Jack series, now sheds light on Jack's teen years in a new YA series that begins with the excellent Secret Histories. It stars fourteen-year-old Jack, along with his best friends, siblings Weezy and Eddie - and focuses on secrets, both modern and ancient.

The friends live close to the New Jersey Pine Barrens, which they make their playground. The story opens, 'They discovered the body on a rainy afternoon' - in the middle of the sinister Barrens of course. They also discover 'a black cube the size of a softball' that only Jack can open. Inside it is a black pyramid that they're unable to photograph. Their attempts to find out more about the object (they consult an anthropology professor) and its provenance bring unwelcome attention to the area.

As this mystery develops, we also see Jack getting cleverly executed revenge on his elder brother Tom for consistently stealing his shelled pistachios, worrying over his friend Eddie's substance abuse, and defending the town's Vietnam vet, Weird Walt, from bullies. After this acton, town witch Elizabeth Clevenger warns the trio to return the box to where they found it. Then deaths begin to multiply, all involving members of the Ancient Septimus Fraternal Order.

Soon helicopters over the Pines increase Weezy's natural paranoia - the trio's investigation leads to capture and escape, and Jack's incrimination of a killer. He concludes that there are secrets all around him and that 'he wasn't through with the Lodge'. I guess we'll find out if that's true in the next episode, Jack: Secret Vengeance. Jack muses early on in the story, 'The difference between loner and loser was one letter. Which was he?' Repairman Jack fans know the answer, and will enjoy this account of Jack's younger life just as much as teen readers will.

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