Jack: Secret Histories
F. Paul Wilson
Tor, May 27 2008, $15.95
In 1983 New Jersey, teenager Jack enjoys playing Atari games with his friends, siblings Eddie and Weezy; his other pastime is riding his bike. Jack prefers to stay away from his home as his parents are pests, his older sister demanding and his older brother an abusive jerk.
Jack and his two buddies are biking in the Pine Barrens when they find an ancient burial site. Unable to resist they search for hidden treasure only to find a more modern but rotted corpse and an odd looking black box with arcane symbols etched on it. Neither Weezy nor Eddie can open it; only Jack can. They soon learn the victim was a member of the elite Ancient Septimus Fraternal Order. Not long afterward other members are murdered. Jack investigates the enigmatic box and the serial killings of the Order.
Repairman Jack teenage sleuth is an enjoyable whodunit as fans obtain a look at the strange hero’s early life in suburbia. The story line starts a bit slow especially for those who know Jack as F. Paul Wilson methodically sets time and place more so for older followers of the series. Once we know Jack, the plot takes off as he makes inquiries that places him in jeopardy, but sets him on his future life’s path. JACK: SECRET HISTORIES is a wonderful refreshingly different entry that targets young adults, but series readers will relish young Jack in action.