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Literature / Repairman Jack

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The Repairman Jack novels are a series spun off from the Nightworld novels (AKA The Adversary Cycle) by F. Paul Wilson.

Repairman Jack is a self-styled "fix-it" man, although the more accurate description would be that of a "moral mercenary" — working underground to help people with problems who have no one else to call on. Of course, these cases are rarely simple, as Jack frequently finds himself having to deal with more fantastic threats and issues with nothing but his own cunning and skills. And all the while he has to keep his true identity and his work on the down low, hidden from actual authorities.

    List of Repairman Jack novels 

  • The Tomb
  • Legacies
  • Conspiracies
  • All the Rage
  • Hosts
  • The Haunted Air
  • Gateways
  • Crisscross
  • Infernal
  • Harbingers
  • Bloodline
  • By the Sword
  • Ground Zero
  • The Last Christmas (interquel released in 2019)
  • Fatal Error
  • The Dark At The End
  • Nightworld

Three Young Adult novels also star Jack as, well, a young adult.

  • Jack: Secret Histories
  • Jack: Secret Vengeance
  • Jack: Secret Circles

A trilogy has been announced which will cover Jack's life between the Young Adult novels and The Tomb:

  • Cold City — released in 2012
  • Dark City — 2013
  • Fear City — 2014

The Repairman Jack series contains examples of:

  • Alien Abduction: Jim Zaleski's obsession, and the theme of his nightmare.
  • Androcles' Lion: Jack reluctantly stops some carnies from abusing Scar-lip when the rakosh is helpless and dying. Later, Scar-lip outmaneuvers Jack in the Pine Barrens and renders him helpless, only to spare his life out of what-little gratitude or honor a half-human rakosh is capable of feeling.
  • Anti-Hero: Being a morally gray, off-the-grid mercenary/vigilante, Jack definitely fits this trope.
  • The Antichrist: Rasalom, and possibly the unborn child from Bloodline.
  • Arc Words: "A spear has no branches"
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: In The Tomb, Jack hands a woman a gun and tells her that since it's a double action, she needs to cock it before it can fire. In reality, double action means the opposite of that; both cocking and releasing the hammer are achieved simply by pulling the trigger.
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  • Author Avatar: Parodied. And then some!
    Jack: "Your books are super." He saw Winslow swell with delight. Authors were so needy.
  • Badass Normal: Jack does better than most against the supernatural threats that pop up in the books, primarily because he uses lateral thinking when dealing with them.
  • Berserk Button: Hurt or threaten Vicky, and Jack will go animal on your ass, even if you're a nine-foot-tall rakosh.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Not for the humans, but for the cosmic forces. The Otherness is undeniably evil, but the Ally is far from good: benevolently indifferent at best.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Averted, Occuli have these but they're not evil. Just really creepy.
  • Blackmail: One of the reasons people to go Jack for help.
  • Body Horror:
    • People conceived or growing up too close to certain nexus points get "touched" by the Otherness and end up mutated to varying degrees.
    • Ah, yes. The "Monroe Cluster". Picture if you will: a man with tentacles for legs. A woman with a single fused finger on her left hand — and one fused nail. Which later turned into a claw. Fatal Error reveals that these are not mutations but reactivated genes. In ancient times, the Otherness made war on humanity by altering humans into "q'qrs" — six-limbed living weapons that later ages would remember as "demons". The Ally retaliated by releasing a biological weapon that killed all the females of the species. In desperation, the males went on a rape spree, hoping to restore their ranks with Half-Human Hybrids. They were unsuccessful in producing further q'qrs, but a lot of that genetic material remains in the human genome as recessive genes. Dawn Pickering's baby, the result of both sibling and Parental Incest to reinforce those genes to dominance — is a freaking demon!
    • In a non-supernatural example, one of the preppies high on Berzerk tries to free himself from handcuffs by chewing through his own wrist.
    • In Jack's vision of what the future will hold if Unity spreads, a young infected woman's attempt to contaminate a store full of people by coughing fails, so she slits her own wrists and spins in place, spraying everyone nearby with Unity-contaminated blood.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Does it ever. At least it can be bargained with...
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Implied to be how Prather's roustabouts smuggled Doug Gleason's still-living body out of his apartment.
    • Inverted by Tom O'Day, who leaves Garrish's corpse where it lies and wraps the murder weapon, the Gaijin Masamune, up in a rug for inconspicuous transport.
  • The Chosen One: It's revealed that Jack is actually the backup chosen one, should the current chosen one die. He doesn't want to be. It's unknown just how much the Ally has been influencing his life before.
  • Cold Sniper: Jack's father.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Jack goes out of his way to point out that he isn't particularly good at fighting and that real fights are nothing like what is seen in the movies. As such he is quite possibly the most creative fighter this side of Rorschach in terms of improvising to get an advantage over his opponents.
    • Arguably more so, simply due to sheer creativity. Jack once drove off some thugs in seconds, thus: he squirted stage blood mixed with pepper spray in an attacker's eye, then stuck a rubber eye in his mouth. Result: some no-longer-tough guys screaming OH MY GOD THIS PSYCHO JUST RIPPED OUT MY BUDDY'S EYE AND ATE IT!
  • Comic-Book Time: The original editions of The Tomb and Nightworld were written well before the other novels. Most of the others take place in about three years in-Verse, yet were written over a much longer period; references to 9/11 in particular set these stories apart from one another, as it shifts from no-such-thing to very recent to years-old, painful memory in less than a year in-Verse.
  • Con Man: Some of Jack's targets and several of his friends are this.
  • Condensation Clue: The ghost in The Haunted Air writes on a fogged-up mirror to communicate with Lyle.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Yeah, no. Numbers definitely make a difference when it comes to this series.
  • Conspiracy Theorist:
    • A whole bunch of them in, appropriately, Conspiracies. They even had their own convention. Also Weezy and Harris in Ground Zero
    • Abe has some tendencies toward this, too.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Jack attempts to cultivate this. He's perfectly willing to admit that he's not an infallible fighter, and he wins most of his fights through careful preparation and misdirection.
  • Creator Career Self-Deprecation: P. Frank Winslow's character makes fun of writers in general as well as just F. Paul Wilson.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Subverted; While Jack tends to win a lot of his fights hands down, it's quite rare that he actually beats someone down the way this trope would imply. Truth be told, he spends more time outthinking and outmaneuvering his opponents than he does fighting them, and a great deal of his victories required loads of prep-time beforehand.
    • That said, this trope got played completely straight in Legacies, during a job involving some toys stolen from a donation center. After Jack found out who the person was that was responsible, he donned a Santa Claus costume, put on some weighted gloves, and proceeded to beat the living shit out of the guy. Even gets lampshaded by the ass-kicking victim himself.
    "Santa threw a punch like a mule kick!"
  • Damsel in Distress:
    • Vicki, a few times. That being said, she's not even ten.
    • As mentioned above, in the Legacies novel, Alicia Clayton gets kidnapped and briefly becomes this.
  • Dirty Coward: Inverted with Jack, who often deliberately acts like one when the shit hits the fan. Cringing, crying, begging people to please leave him alone and not hurt's all just an act, designed to get opponents to both underestimate him and get close enough for him to go to work. In one scene, he played this to a tee, a gangster stepped close to him in order to slap his face and call him a coward...and Jack kicked the guy in the knee so hard, the mook on the other side of the room heard the ligaments pop. It doesn't fool everyone, though. Once, a tough guy sneered that Jack was afraid to fight. His partner, older and smarter and more experienced, immediately corrected him, saying that Jack didn't want to fight, but he wasn't afraid to fight. He also warned his partner not to get within an arm's reach of Jack.
  • Distress Call: Conspiracies begins with one of these asking for Jack.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Established in Host, where Jack explains that he does not like guns, and would rather live in a world where guns never existed. However, he's not an idiot, and since he's likely to come up against armed thugs often, he makes sure he's armed as well.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Dormentalist Church in Crisscross is clearly a stand-in for the Church of Scientology, and though the latter is established to exist as a separate entity in the setting, most of what's revealed about the Dormentalists is intentionally reminiscent of what had been revealed about Scientology by the time that book had come out.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Rakoshi, the "chew wasps" and most Otherness creatures in general are this.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: The supernatural presence in The Haunted Air causes a television screen to display programming and commercials from The '80s, and to do so even after the TV's unplugged and all of its internal components have been removed. It also makes a clock radio's LED display run backwards.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The villain from The Haunted Air sacrifices children without hesitation, yet is repulsed by the suggestion that he or any of his followers might molest such child abductees. Said followers do not have such qualms - at the very least, they want their victims to feel pain during the sacrifice, which is irrelevant to the ritual.
  • Evil Cripple: Kusum Bahkti has only one arm. Doubles as Handicapped Badass since he is extremely deadly with his feet, at one point breaking down a heavy wooden door with one kick.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Every dog a Lady owns appears to be capable of sensing whenever beings (or people) touched by the Otherness are near. Anya's dog Oyv in particular shows this multiple times.
  • Evil Gloating: Much like with the other series he appears in, Rasalom can be a real mustache-twirler whenever he has an enemy at his mercy. Justified somewhat, as he gains power and sustenance from negativity and is therefore doing it to exacerbate people's negative emotions.
  • Evil Is Petty: Mauricio expresses a desire to see humans extinct, because they have bad taste in fashion.
  • Executive Meddling: There is no tomb in The Tomb. note 
  • Explosive Leash: Luther Brady keeps the original founder of Dormentalism confined in an isolated cabin with a bomb implanted under the prisoner's skin. Jack and Jamie have to operate to remove it, then leave it in a pan of hot water because it's sensitive to temperature as well as proximity. Unfortunately for the captive, there's a second bomb deeper inside him that he wasn't told about.
  • Eye Scream: Jack keeps his thumbnails long just for this advantage in a fight. He also stabs a fork through a man's eye socket. Fork lobotomy!
  • Fed to Pigs: Joey Castle threatens to feed the private parts of the terrorists who'd shot his brother to pigs once he's killed them, an act of extreme defilement under their Muslim beliefs.
  • Feed It a Bomb: Jack feeds a grenade to Dora, the two-headed alligator snapping turtle.
  • Flock of Wolves: The entire upper echelon of the Dormentalists consists of people desperately pretending they're not "Nulls".
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Jack pulled this one on Luther Brady. He used photos of things that the victim really did (child molestation) in order to create an illusion of a blackmail gone awry, with Luther seemingly murdering the blackmailer. For added fun, the blackmailer was a real one (and killed by Jack himself). It worked.
  • Gangsta Style: Subverted. A thug tries aiming this way at Jack, who points out what's wrong with that grip. In a painful object lesson.
  • Genius Bruiser: Jack's a solid combatant in a one-on-one fight, but it's his knack for creative tactics and psychological warfare that make him nearly unstoppable.
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: While explicitly not God or Satan, the Ally and Otherness fit this trope pretty well. Although necessary for humanity's survival, the Ally is an utterly pragmatic force that engineers the deaths of all of Jack's close blood relatives, plus a lot of innocent bystanders, simply so he won't be distracted from his role as Heir by concern for their welfare. It's only an "Ally" at all because it considers the Earth a poker chip, albeit a cheap one. The Otherness is only inherently worse than the Ally because it actively feeds on suffering, and because humans just happen to be adapted to the Ally's reality, not the Other.
  • Good Is Not Nice: In Wilson's 'verse there's a specific gene set which increases violent impulses — Jack is the most potent carrier on record; e.g., he once tied a man who seduced and impregnated his own unknowing daughter under a truck. At the moment he justified the modernized "draw and quartering" as a kill method which left no trace evidence, but after what was left of the body was identified by DNA testing just a day later, he realized he was just that violently angry. Even he asks himself What the Hell, Hero?.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Turns out, the rakoshi in The Tomb are these. Except for their mother, who is, probably, the last full-blooded rakosh in existence.
  • Hand in the Hole: In Legacies, a thug who's searching Jack's booby-trapped decoy house reaches into a safe to retrieve the money he sees inside, and gets his hand pinned by a mechanical spike. And that's just the start of his troubles.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: In Legacies, Yoshio spends days watching Kemel and Nazer stand, staring awestruck, at a lamp-lit window. He assumes they've got something that requires light sitting under the lamp, because they never turn it off. It's actually the lamp they're staring at, because it's drawing its electricity via broadcast power and they're amazed that it's staying lit at all.
  • Hollywood Satanism: Olive Farina is convinced that Satanists have taken over the government, a delusion that was fostered when an incompetent shrink blamed her weight problems on childhood ritual abuse that never really happened.
  • I Lied: in The Tomb, Jack has a flamethrower aimed on a dangerous monster-controlling criminal, who has a little girl as a hostage. The criminal offers Jack to fight hand-to-hand, and promises to free the girl if Jack agrees. Jack does agree - but the girl manages to free herself in a minor confusion, and Jack immediately torches the guy. Interesting that Jack feels guilty about his lie even a couple of years afterwards.
  • Immortality Inducer:
    • The ritual from The Haunted Air. A living child heart has to be eaten between summer solstice and the autumnal equinox every year. After 29 times user stops aging and becomes immune to harm and diseases for as long as ritual is kept up. Or else...
    • Also applies to the Bahktris' necklaces from The Tomb.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Earth isn't even a prize in the fight between the Ally and the Otherness. It's a single poker chip at best.
  • Karmic Death: Throughout the series, Jack hands these out like candy.
    • In All The Rage, he forces Brad Edwards, Kent Garrison, Luc Monnet and Milos Dragovic to drink water laced with Berzerk before barricading them in a room together, leaving them to succumb to the effects of the very drug they were responsible for. This being Berzerk, it ends very, very violently.
    • In The Haunted Air, he leaves Eli Belitto trapped in the very house the latter performed numerous child sacrifices in. Where the vengeful spirit of one of the sacrificed children proceeds to drag him into its depths, kicking and screaming.
    • Gateways reveals that this is what he did to the man responsible for his mother's death near an overpass.
    Jack: Tied him up and dangled him by his feet off the same overpass. Made him a human piñata for the big trucks going by below.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Jack does this all the time, and also sprinkles in a healthy mix of Pay Evil unto Evil when dealing with some of the human monsters he encounters. Once, he gut-shot a terrorist who'd planted a bomb on a plane, killing everyone on board. Wounds like this mean you die very slowly and very painfully. The terrorist begged Jack to call a doctor.
    Jack: "I just asked everyone on the flight you bombed if you should get a doctor. Son-of-a-bitch, you know what happened? Not a single person raised their hand. So no doctor for you."
  • Killer Rabbit: Lady's dog can be incredibly dangerous, regardless of its current form. When being Oyv the chihuahua, it managed to kill a giant alligator.
  • Last of His Kind: The last rakosh, and the Mother before it.
  • Light Is Not Good: It is stressed that the Ally does NOT care much about mankind.
  • Lodged-Blade Recycling:
    • Dawn managed to pull out a knife out of her shoulder and kill her opponent.
    • Even more dramatic example with Moki. He stabbed himself in the chest (he mistakenly thought himself invulnerable), and managed to pull out the knife and wound Jack with it before keeling over.
  • Made of Indestructium: The otherworldly portion of the Gaijin Masamune katana, which survived the Hiroshima bomb intact even as its normal steel components melted away. The Compendium of Srem, which resisted every method Torquemada could think of to try to destroy it.
  • Mainlining the Monster: In All The Rage, blood from Scar-lip the rakosh is the sole source of the Psycho Serum Berzerk.
  • The Men in Black: The Twins (and also the Yeniceri, who for a time were lead by the Twins). Actually, the Twins were the ones who inadvertently started the urban legend of The Men in Black.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • Jack sometimes wanders at night, dressed like a tourist, waiting for someone evil and stupid enough to attempt to mug him. Then Jack beats the would-be mugger up, takes his money and jewelry, fences the jewelry, and donates the money to a kids' baseball league.
    • Two bandits and later a mugger try to attack Glaeken. The mugger (probably) survives. The bandits are not so lucky.
    • Some yeniceri try to hold up Julio's bar when they're searching for Jack. Julio's has a lot of well-armed customers, so they're forced to back off very, very politely.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous:
    • The q'qrs, Otherness's living weapons, were four-armed — and, presumably, very dangerous.
    • Rasalom's final form had two huge hands, two tentacles, and an assortment of relatively small pincered arms.
  • Multiple Head Case: Dora, the two-headed alligator snapping turtle from Gateways.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Devil, the twenty-foot horned alligator.
  • Nikola Tesla: Some of his inventions are central to Conspiracies and the "broadcast power" he'd researched is central to Legacies.
  • The Nondescript: Jack works at being this, and also deliberately subverts it when he's undercover so his fake personas will be markedly unlike his real appearance.
  • No Full Name Given: Jack is just Jack, which makes people uncomfortable addressing him so familiarly. By extension, Jack's father and brother are just "Tom" in the text, as it'd give away Jack's surname if the readers learned theirs. Averted with his sister Kate, as she's married and uses her husband's surname.
  • Non-Indicative Name: There is no tomb in The Tomb.
  • Pet's Homage Name: Abe is a gun-dealer and technical expert on firearms: gun design, mechanical specifications, upkeep, customization, and repair. He calls his pet parakeet Parabellum, the name of a specific type of cartridge.
  • Phony Psychic: The Kenton brothers and the Fosters from The Haunted Air.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Jack tries to maintain that he's a Punch-Clock Hero, but frequently waives client fees and instead takes payment out of seizure of assets from his target.
  • Punctuation Shaker: The q'qrs.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: One of the Ladies rails at both the Ally and the Otherness, yelling for them to leave the Earth alone.
  • Rare Guns: Jack's signature weapon for the first few novels is the Semmerling LM4, a extremely compact .45 that was practically handmade. This bites him in the ass during Hosts, when his use of the gun allows him to be identified by those he's tangled with before.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Kusum and Kolabati have been around since the 1800's, and a villain from The Haunted Air claims to be over two hundred. Glaeken and Rasalom have been around much longer than that.
  • Running Gag: In Conspiracies, Abe refers to SESOUP by the names of one type of fish soup after another, and Jack always corrects him in exactly the same way.
    • Towards the beginning of Gateways, Jack explains to Carl what "panoramic" means. The rest of the book has Carl saying the word almost every chance he gets. Often incorrectly.
  • Scars are Forever: Jack gets horrible scars from the Rakoshi. At one point they glow in the dark.
    • And certain people can see them right through his shirt.
  • Secret Room: In Legacies, there's a minor character who belongs to a group of people who like to hack buildings to find secret rooms. As skyscrapers, office buildings, and government buildings are remodeled and renovated over the years, often the crews will wall off a room that is no longer needed or doesn't fit the new layout. This group enjoys sneaking in, traveling through the ventilation system, then finding these rooms and leaving their mark or tag or calling card.
  • Shout-Out: Kusum tells Jack, "Your pardon. I dislike to be touched. An Eastern prejudice." This is lifted right out of Boris Karloff's mouth in The Mummy, a reference made even more explicit by Jack's love for 1930s horror movies and the fact that Kusum, like Ardeth Bey, is much older than he looks.
  • Significant Anagram: Rasalom is forced by mystical covenant to use anagrams of his name as aliases.
  • Significant Monogram: F. Paul Wilson in Bloodline.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: The Westphalens are targeted because of their ancestor's crime (which none of them know about).
  • The Smurfette Principle: Semelee is the only female in the lagoon clan. Other sinkhole-mutant baby girls had been conceived, but were stillborn or died in infancy.
  • Speak of the Devil: Rasalom knows exactly when and where someone says his name. People don't say it to avoid him knowing where they are.
  • Spoonerism: The Shurio Coppe.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!:
    • In Harbingers, Jack holds himself hostage this way when Gia and Vicky are mortally wounded because of the Ally. He threatens to shoot himself if they die, which would deny the Ally of its backup Chosen One. It works — but the Ally purposefully leaves Jack's and Gia's stillborn child dead as punishment for defiance.
    • Kate does this to make Jack himself back off when she's under the Unity's control to prevent him from taking her away.
  • Storming the Castle: Jack mounts a few assaults on strongholds of allies of The Otherness.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Yes, he did kill a punk named Kenny. Kenny's friends were not happy. "Oh my Christ, he must've killed Kenny!"
  • They Were Holding You Back: "A spear has no branches". Once they decide that Jack will be their weapon, The Ally starts to prune away Jack's ties, starting with his father and then mortally wounding Gia and Vicky.
  • Time Abyss: Glaeken is 14 or 15 thousand years old. Rasalom is several years older.
  • To the Pain: From Gia, of all people, when a reporter asks her what fate is appropriate for serial child molesters.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Compendium of Srem, which helpfully translates itself into the reader's native language and even shows some animations. Too bad it malfunctions, showing pages more or less at random - and it has a lot of pages. Fortunately, Weezy, thanks to her eidetic memory, can organize seen pages in the proper order in her head.
  • The Trickster: Given a choice, Jack'd rather use his wits than force to solve a problem and he has a somewhat twisted sense of humor.
  • Urban Fantasy: Jack's first outing may have been a straight horror novel, but his later books definitely grow into this after a while. Interestingly enough, while Jack as a character predates both of the genre's most notable codifiers by several years, the series itself arguably doesn't start evolving into this until Gateways, which was written and published long after the latter two had become household names.
  • We Help the Helpless: While Jack bills himself as a mercenary, he does a lot of work on the cheap, or pro bono for worthy causes.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The villain/ghost plot from The Haunted Air comes straight out of M.R. James's "Lost Hearts".
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Glaeken doesn't at all. He is overjoyed for a chance to live a human life and to get old together with his beloved.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Jack receives an explanation as to why the Otherness doesn't kill him off:
    Rasalom: Physical pain is mere sustenance. But, a strong man slowly battered into despair and hopelessness... that is a delicacy. In your case, it might even approach ecstasy. I don't want to deprive myself of that.
    • On the other hand if you happen to find yourself on the business end of Jack's gun and he has a quarrel with you... yeah.
  • Would Hurt a Child. Downplayed with Kusum. He's prepared to murder a child to get his Revenge by Proxy and fulfill The Prophecy, but he's clearly revolted by the idea and decides to make his victim's death merciful, even though that undermines part of the prophecy.
  • Wrong Assumption: Jack makes these a few times throughout the series. Though this is justified in most cases, due to his lack of knowledge regarding the supernatural.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: Cold City includes a long entry of Abe utterly baffling Jack by introducing one Yiddish term after another into a discussion and complaining about having to digress to explain each one.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Jack becomes the Heir of the Sentinel after he accidentally kills the Twins.