Repairman Jack isn't your average appliance repairmanhe fixes situations for people, often risking his own life. Jack has no last name, no social security number, works only for cash, and has no qualms when it comes to seeing that the job gets done.
Dr. Alicia Clayton, a pediatrician who treats children with AIDS, is full of secrets, and she has just inherited a house that holds another. Haunted by painful memories, Alicia wants the house destroyedbut somehow everyone she enlists to help ends up violently killed. The house holds a powerful secret, and Alicia's charmless brother Thomas seems willing to do anything to get his hands on that secret himself.
But not if Repairman Jack can find it first!
Legacies is the first thrilling novel in the Repairman Jack series from bestselling author F. Paul Wilson
About the Author
F. Paul Wilson is the New York Times bestselling author of horror, adventure, medical thrillers, science fiction, and virtually everything in between. His books include the Repairman Jack novels, including Ground Zero, The Tomb, and Fatal Error; the Adversary cycle, including The Keep; and a young adult series featuring the teenage Jack. Wilson has won the Prometheus Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Inkpot Award from the San Diego ComiCon, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers of America, among other honors. He lives in Wall, New Jersey.
Read an Excerpt
LegaciesA Repairman Jack Novel
By Wilson, F. Paul
Forge BooksCopyright © 2000 Wilson, F. Paul
All right reserved.
"It's okay!" Alicia shouted as the cab jerked to the left to swing around a NYNEX truck plodding up Madison Avenue. "I'm not in a rush!"
The driver-curly dark hair, a Saddam Hussein mustache, and swarthy skin--didn't seem to hear. He jogged his machine two lanes left, then three lanes right, hitting the brakes and gunning the engine, hitting and gunning, jerking Alicia back and forth, left and right in the rear seat, then swerving to avoid another yellow maniacmobile trying a similar move through the morning traffic.
Her cab's net gain: one car length. Maybe.
Alicia rapped on the smudged, scratched surface of the plastic divider. "Slow down, dammit! I want to arrive in one piece."
But the driver ignored her. If anything, he upped his speed. He seemed to be engaged in a private war against every other car in Manhattan. And God help you if you were a pedestrian.
Alicia should have been used to this. She'd grown up in Manhattan. She hadn't been here for a while, though. She'd moved away at eighteen for college and had stayed away for medical school and her residencies in pediatrics and infectious diseases. She hadn't wanted to come back--what with that man and her half brother Thomas still living here--but St. Vincent's had made her the proverbial offer she couldn't refuse.
So now, after a little over a year, she was still gettingused to the city's changes. Who'd have believed they'd be able to scour off the grim sleaziness that she'd assumed to be permanently etched on Times Square?
Cabbies too. What had happened to them? They'd always been pushy, brazen drivers--you had to be to get around in this city--but this new crop were maniacs.
Finally they hit the Forties.
Almost there, Alicia thought. Maybe I'll live to see another sunset after all.
But as they neared Forty-eighth she noticed her cab was still in the center lane, accelerating. At first she thought he was going to miss her turn off, then she saw the opening: two lanes to the right, behind a graffiti-coated delivery truck and just ahead of a bus pulling away from the curb.
"You're not!" Alicia cried. "Please tell me you're not going to try to--"
He did. And he made it--just barely--but not without forcing the bus to slam on its brakes and give him a deafening blast from its horn.
The cabbie floored it along the open stretch of Forty-eighth, then swerved violently rightward toward the curb. The cab jerked to a halt at the address Alicia had given him when she'd slid into its rear seat down in Greenwich Village.
"Six-seventy-five," he said.
Alicia sat there fuming, wishing she were strong enough to break through the partition and throttle him. She wasn't. But she could give him a taste of his own medicine--in reverse.
Slowly, she inched toward the curbside door, opened it with the greatest of care, and edged herself out. Then she took out her wallet and began to count her change...carefully. She had about two dollars' worth. She picked out a dollar-seventy-five in dimes and nickels.
"Come on, lady," the cabbie said, leaning over the passenger seat and looking up at her through the window. "I haven't got all day."
Alicia made no sign she'd heard him as she slowly pulled five singles from her wallet, one...at...a...time. Finally, when she had exactly six-seventy-five in her hand, she handed it through the window.
It didn't take long--three seconds, tops--before the driver popped out his door and glared at her over the roof of his cab.
"Ay! Where is tip?" He pronounced it teep.
"Pardon me?" Alicia said sweetly. "I can't hear you."
"My tip, lady! Where is it?"
"I'm sorry," she said, holding a hand to her ear. "Your lips appear to be moving, but I can't hear a word you're saying. Something about my slip?"
"My tip, goddammit! My tip! My tip! My fucking tip!"
"Did I enjoy my trip?" she said, then let her voice go icy. "On a scale of one to ten, I enjoyed it zero...exactly the amount of your tip."
He made a move to come around the cab, probably figuring he could intimidate this slight, pale woman with the fine features and the glossy black hair, but Alicia held her ground. He gave her a venomous look and slipped back into his seat.
As she turned away, she heard the cabbie shout an inarticulate curse, slam his door, and burn rubber as he tore off.
We're even, she thought, her anger fading. But what an awful way to start a beautiful fall day.
She put it behind her. She'd been looking forward to this meeting with Leo Weinstein, and she wasn't going to let some crazy cabbie upset her.
At last she'd found an attorney who wasn't afraid to tackle a big law firm. All of the others she'd tried--those in her limited price range--had reacted with a little too much awe when they'd heard the name Hinchberger, Rainey & Guran. Not Weinstein. Hadn't fazed him in the least. He'd read through the will and within a day came up with half a dozen suggestions he seemed to believe would put the big boys on the defensive.
"Your father left you that house," he'd said. "No way they can keep it from you. Just leave it to me."
And so she'd done just that. Now she was going to see what he'd accomplished with the blizzard of paper he'd fired at Hinchberger, Rainey & Guran.
She heard a honk behind her and stiffened. If it was that cab...
She turned and relaxed as she saw Leo Weinstein waving through the open window of a silver Lexus. He was saying something she couldn't catch. She stepped closer.
"Good morning," she said.
"Sorry I'm late," he said. "The LIE was jammed. Just let me pull into the garage down there and I'll be right with you."
She was almost to the front door of the building where Cutter and Weinstein had their offices when she was staggered by a thunderous noise. The shock wave slammed against her back like a giant hand and almost knocked her off her feet.
Turning she saw a ball of flame racing skyward from the middle of the block, and flaming pieces of metal crashing to the ground all about her. Cars were screeching to a halt as pedestrians dove for the pavement amid glittering shards of glass tumbling from windows up and down the block. Alicia jumped back as a blackened, smoking chunk of a car trunk lid landed in front of her and rolled to her feet.
An icy coil of horror tightened around her throat as she recognized the Lexus insignia.
She craned her neck to look for Leo's car, but it was...gone.
"Oh, no!" she cried. "Oh, my God, no!"
She hurried forward a few steps on wobbly knees to see if there was anything she could do, but...the car...nothing was left where it had been...just burning asphalt.
"Oh, God, Leo!" she gasped. "Oh, I'm so sorry!"
She couldn't breathe. What had happened to all the air? She had to get away from here.
She forced her stricken body to turn and blunder back up the sidewalk, away from the smoke, the flames, the wreckage. She stopped when she reached Madison Avenue. She leaned against a traffic light post and gulped air. When she'd caught her breath, she looked back.
Already the vultures were gathering, streaming toward the flames, wondering what happened. And not too far away, sirens.
She couldn't stay here. She couldn't help Weinstein and she didn't want to be listed as a witness. The police might get it into their heads that she was hiding something, and they might start looking into her background, her family. She couldn't allow that. Couldn't stand it.
Alicia didn't look for a taxi--the thought of being confined was unbearable. She needed space, light, air. She turned downtown.
She sobbed as she started walking, moving as fast as her low-heeled shoes would allow. But even if she'd worn her sneakers she would not have been able to outrun the guilt, the terrible suspicion that she was somehow responsible for Leo Weinstein's death.
Copyright 1998 by F. Paul Wilson
Excerpted from Legacies by Wilson, F. Paul Copyright © 2000 by Wilson, F. Paul. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
One of the most original and intriguing characters to arise out of contemporary fiction in ages. His adventures are hugely entertaining.
Before the live bn.com chat, F. Paul Wilson agreed to answer some of our questions:Q: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Paul. Let's talk about your new Repairman Jack thriller, Legacies. What is Repairman Jack up to in Legacies?
A: The usual -- kibitzing with Abe, hanging at Julio's, buying junky tchotchkes for his apartment, and taking on fix-it jobs from people with no place else to turn. He's hired to recover Christmas toys stolen from a center for children with AIDS. He does such a good job that the director, Alicia Clayton, hires him for a personal problem, and that's when the serious trouble begins: She wants him to torch the family home in Murray Hill she's just inherited. Jack refuses, fearing the whole block will go up along with it.
But his curiosity is piqued. He learns that a shadowy group with deep pockets and international connections wants that house so badly they're willing to pay any price for it and kill anyone who stands in their way. Three people are already dead. What's the house's secret? And why won't Alicia take the millions offered?
Q: Your last Repairman Jack novel was the New York Times bestseller The Tomb, first published in 1984. Why have you waited until now to bring back Repairman Jack in novel form?
A: Jack never went away, really. He's been in half a dozen short stories and novelettes since The Tomb, mostly in small press anthologies, plus Stalkers and Night Screams. And he was a major player in the Nightworld ensemble. But up to now I've resisted the zillions of requests from readers to bring him back in his own novel.
All right, maybe not zillions, but easily millions. Okay, not millions, but thousands, for sure. Let's face it -- a book stays in print for 14 years, with lots of those copies getting passed around two or three times, you pick up a ton of readers. But back in the '80s I wasn't ready to commit myself to a series character; I had other types of novels pounding on the inside of my skull, and I had to let them out.
Also, Jack is very special to me. I didn't want to cheapen him by shoehorning him into plots where he didn't really fit just because I had another Repairman Jack novel due. But over the years, I've Dutch-ovened a number of ideas I feel are worthy of him. Legacies is the first.
Q: For the benefit of those unfamiliar with Repairman Jack, how would you describe your popular protagonist?
A: Maybe I should just list a few aspects of Jack's life:
1) He never pays taxes, has no Social Security number or driver's license (well, he does, but they're bogus) -- and as far as officialdom is concerned, he doesn't exist.
2) He hires out for cash to "fix" situations that have no legal remedy.
3) He considers himself a small businessman and tries not to get emotionally involved.
4) He almost always gets emotionally involved.
5) He has a violent temper that he manages to control -- usually.
6) He's a firm believer in Murphy's Law and tries to prepare for it.
7) He's low-tech -- not a Luddite, but he believes technology is especially vulnerable to Murphy's Law. (I just now got him a computer in Legacies.)
8) He believes that men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and government is from Uranus.
Q: Do you personally share any qualities with Repairman Jack?
A: Six and eight of the above. Not number one, unfortunately.
Q: Although Legacies, like The Tomb, stars Repairman Jack, Legacies is a very different novel. The Tomb contains many horror and supernatural elements, while Legacies is a straight-up thriller. Does this change say anything about your opinion of the current state of horror fiction?
A: It says that this is how things worked out best for Legacies. Having Alicia Clayton's house hide an eldritch supernatural evil didn't work; having it hold the key to a weird, science-fictiony, world-changing technology did.
I consider myself a thriller writer -- I wrote SF thrillers in the '70s, horror thrillers in the '80s, medical thrillers in the '90s, and the next few books will be Repairman Jack thrillers. After that, who knows? I still write horror -- I just sold a very retro vampire novelette to a major horror anthology. I suspect there'll be a weird element in every Jack novel, but varying levels of weird, different kinds of weird. I can't seem to get away from weird (even my medical thrillers had horror elements) but I don't want to be too predictable. And I sure as hell don't want Jack to be typed as a psychic detective, some sort of Carnacki the Ghostfinder for the '90s.
Q: Your thriller Deep As the Marrow, which was published last year, touched on the controversial subject of drug legalization. Legacies pays considerable attention to the horrible reality of children with AIDS. Have you always tried to tie in your novels with contemporary issues, or is this a more recent trend in your writing?
A: Story gets first priority -- always. I try not to let anything (including myself) come between the reader and the story I'm telling. But when I can address an issue I care about, and make it integral to the story, then I go for it. I firmly believe that the only way to beat drugs is to legalize them; that provided a great MacGuffin for Deep as the Marrow, so I used it. The issue of children with AIDS (or worse, crack babies with AIDS) is a fallout from the so-called war on drugs -- they're the war's unseen victims.
But the real reason Legacies revolves around a center for children with AIDS is a newspaper article I read a while back about the theft of a supply of Christmas toys from a similar center in Manhattan. I freaked. I wanted Repairman Jack to be real so I could sic him on the oxygen wasters who'd stoop so low. And in Legacies, I got to do just that.
Q: Your heroine in Legacies is Dr. Alicia Clayton, a physician who works in a dilapidated, poorly funded center for children with AIDS. Have you visited centers like this one? How do you use your experiences as a doctor in your novels...and specifically in Legacies?
A: I've cut my practice to two days a week (I can't seem to let go completely), but even when I was fully into it, AIDS was not a factor in my blue-collar bedroom community. Treating AIDS is almost a subspecialty in itself these days, so I consulted a couple of experienced practitioners for the nitty-gritty details in Legacies. A good deal of my practice has always been pediatrics, so I'm familiar with sick kids; but when I visited an urban center for children with Aids, let me tell you, it breaks your heart.
Q: Much of the action in Legacies takes place in an urban environment, namely New York City. What aspects of a big city do you feel enhance a thriller such as Legacies?
A: A character like Jack, who lives in the interstices of society, needs a big city to maintain his lifestyle. Jack doesn't like being out of the city -- he gets jittery in the wide open spaces, and he thinks trees should be evenly spaced and grow out of holes in pavement. But Jack's city isn't just any city -- it's New York City, the urban paradigm, wellspring of the best and the worst of everything. No other place like it in the world.
I went to high school in Manhattan during the '60s; I got to know it intimately, above and below the pavement. I use it now as a character, centering the action in different neighborhoods. (But I may drag Jack far out of Manhattan for a book -- just to shake him up.)