Reading a Repairman Jack novel seems, at times, a guilty pleasure; it's astonishingly easy to inhale the pages, like eating potato chips. A firm-jawed Mr. Fixit hero with a cryptic past--crunch! Crimes that go beyond (way, waaay beyond) the norms of traditional law--smack! A liberal sprinkling of screwball comedy and nasty supernatural beings--now that's tasty! Good, crispy fun, indeed. But F. Paul Wilson's tight plotting and appealing characters manage to elevate potato chips to the realm of haute cuisine (or at least a satisfyingly solid meal), and his latest, All the Rage, is no exception.
Everything's rosy when Nadia Radzminsky takes a dream research job at GEM Pharmaceuticals: she'll be working for her professional idol, Dr. Luc Monnet; her fiancÚ is one of GEM's top salespeople; she's got all sorts of high tech toys to play with; and she'll get a million-dollar bonus if she can just figure out how to stabilize GEM's most promising molecule (dubbed, ominously enough for students of Norse mythology, Loki). But clouds quickly appear on the horizon in the form of Milos Dragovic, a Serbian mobster with a short fuse, a big wallet, and a profound interest in Loki's future. Nadia suspects Milos is blackmailing her boss, and she hires Jack to find out what's going on.
What Jack finds out isn't pretty: Loki is leading an underground life as Berzerk, a hot, new street drug that brings out the user's most aggressive behavior, frequently with deadly consequences. And Milos may be pushing Monnet around, but the good doctor isn't objecting too strongly to the payoff. But when Jack gets closer to the source of the mystery molecule, events take a very personal turn: Loki is derived from the blood of rakoshi, those otherworldly and decidedly vicious demons Jack had sworn to exterminate in Conspiracies. With his family threatened by both the rakoshi and the vengeful Serb, Jack must take on both the monster and the mob.
All the Rage has the necessary ingredients for success, including a snarkily amusing subplot involving a Brooklyn junkyard owner who's also out for Milos's blood (Jack has to keep toning down his client's eager revenge plots, and his substitution of industrial sludge for knives in one such plan is particularly amusing). Dedicated Wilson fans will rejoice in the new addition to the series, and neophytes will scramble to unearth the earlier installments. --Kelly Flynn [via]