Friday, November 25, 2011

The Tomb

Written by Joe the Revelator

Supernatural detective novels have become a fad of late. Some are marketed as thrillers or horror, or fall into the ever-expanding sub genre "paranormal", right next to vampires and little gray aliens.

For being a supernatural, paranormal, detective thriller...thing, The Tomb does a wonderful job of downplaying the supernatural aspect. In fact, the author, F. Paul Wilson, drops tidbits of clues and glimpses into the eerie weirdness of the case with subtlety, as not to distract from the plot. The effect is impressive.

Repairman Jack

Calling Jack a private investigator wouldn't do him justice. Nor would hitman, bodyguard, or con-artist be accurate. Jack is a repairman, in the sense that he repairs sticky situations for a substantial fee.

Lose a precious family heirloom? Jack can get it back. Been cheated out of your wages by a deadbeat boss? Jack can trick him into paying it off, and then some. Looking for vengeance against a mugger who assaulted your aging grandmother? Well, Jack isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. If the price is right and the job fits his strict moral code, Jack will "fix" just about anyone.

Jack's only real issue, aside from his addiction to shopping for Victorian furniture and movie memorabilia, lies in his off-the-job relationships. Jack's had a hard breakup recently. His fiance' happened to be dusting his apartment when she stumbled across his hidden cache' of guns and knives, and various other tools of his trade. Convincing her to take him back proves to be as tough as any case he's worked yet.

A one-armed Indian walks into a bar...

In walks an Indian, an enigma of a man and emphatically traditionalist, who demands that Jack locate a stolen necklace. Jack accepts the job, in part because of the envelope of money thrown his way. In turn he quickly becomes drawn into a series of mysterious disappearances which seem to be perpetrated by nightmarish creatures with glowing yellow eyes. Ever the pragmatist, Jack refuses to believe in the night-stalking bogymen. That is until they begin to hunt his loved ones.

One of my favorite things about The Tomb is the author's realistic approach to Jack's life as a repairman. He goes into detail about the necessity of living "off the grid", as well as maintaining multiple phone numbers, dummy accounts, and a network of contacts. When Jack picks a lock to sneak into an apartment, it's not a simple *click*. He muses about the difficulty of different lock types, and the time it takes to bypass brand-name mechanisms. He goes into detail about cases he's solved, and the oddities of street life.

He's one call away.

I would recommend The Tomb to almost anyone, not just mystery enthusiasts. The writing style is accessible, full of pulp, and the characters are original. Jack's violent outbursts feel justified, especially in light of the criminals he's pursuing, and are balanced by his wit and mirth.

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