It should go without saying that for any series of books to be successful they have to stand on their own as novels. This isn’t always the case and there are some series which are very reliant on the whole myth arc of the series. F. Paul Wilson’s well crafted novel Hosts is a surprise and delight to first time readers and a solid part of the Repairman Jack series.
In a high concept meeting the Repairman Jack series might be described as Travis McGee meets X-Files. That wouldn’t be the most apt description but it does frame the protagonist Jack in an essential light. Jack is fighting evil. Evil is all around us and we don’t even recognize it. Hosts falls into a netherworld of books that don’t quite fit into a genre. There are elements of mystery, suspense, action, detection and science fiction all rolled into one tight plot driven novel.
The characters in Hosts are a little thin but they serve their purpose. We get just enough of each character to make them interesting but not so much that we are really interested in what is happening in their life beyond the scope of the novel. In fact the one weakness in the novel from a character standpoint is the over development of Kate – Repairman Jack’s long estranged sister who unbeknownst to either of them hires Jack to look into the bizarre behavior of her lover Jeanette.
Jeanette has been in recovery from a life saving operation which treated a supposedly untreatable brain tumor. Kate has taken a break from her comfortable family life and pediatric practice to be with her lover during her recovery. Oh what a tangled web we weave…..
When Jeanette starts behaving very uncharacteristically and leaving her apartment at odd hours on mysterious errands Kate follows Jeanette on one of her outings and discovers that things are even more bizarre than she had thought. While spying on her lover Kate encounters a strange old woman accompanied by a malamute who gives her the card of the only man who can help her: Jack.
There is a strong subplot in this novel involving a brutal subway shooting spree, Repairman Jack and a reporter (Sandy) who witnessed the whole incident and risks exposing Jack to the general public. This subplot is at times more interesting than the main story but Wilson takes the time to neatly tie the two stories together and resolve all the issues around Sandy and the risk to Jack’s anonymity before the close of the novel.
Hosts is a great little page turner whether you are a Repairman Jack fan or this is your first exposure to the series.