Author: F. Paul Wilson
he final book of the young adult Repairman Jack trilogy featured a few of the same problems as the first two books, but in a much more explainable fashion that didn’t contradict what we know of Jack in the adult series. The result was the best book of the trilogy by quite a bit and one of my favorite books overall in the series.
Secret Vengeance picks up after the first two books in the trilogy, but aside from a reference to a guy giving Jack a reward for rescuing him this is a book that can be understood and enjoyed on its own. Instead of ancient artifacts and hidden underground cities, here the conflict revolves around a football player attempting a sex crime on Jack’s best friend and the fallout of the incident. There are some side plots as well, one involving Jack finding out more about his dad’s (and his own) history, and Weird Walt’s possibly healing touch, but they take up less than 10% of the story.
The early Repairman Jack books were more fun than the later ones, as Jack is still actively involved in his “fix-it” business, getting revenge or consequences for those that deserve it. When his friend Weezy is slut shamed by the entire school based on her attacker’s version of events, Jack makes it his mission to change the focus from Weezy to her attacker and also to make the football player miserable in the process. What starts out as a pretty minor prank (putting a fake spider in the player’s locker) escalates as each day Jack figures out a new way to enter the locker and rig it with a new trap. The Piney kids (mysterious outsiders who live in the Pine Forest region) also take an interest in Jack’s target, believing that he is responsible for harming a Piney girl as well.
While there’s certainly supernatural stuff happening in this book, it is the kind of stuff that would be much easier for Jack to observe and still remain a skeptic when the adult book series begins. Weird Walt is sought out by a woman who says he healed her deformity previously and now she wants him to heal her baby. Jack watches everything go down, but nothing he sees (in this book) would prove Walt had any special abilities. Similarly, the other stuff that appears in the football player’s locker each book is weird, but he has a host of Piney kids after him that could be messing with him as well.
Wilson also does some fan service and origin story filler here, by explaining how Jack meets his best friend in the later books. (More importantly, it explains why there’s a character in the young adult books who speaks and acts exactly like that character.) There’s also a run in with a character that will be familiar to readers of the Adversary Cycle or later Repairman Jack books, and some seeds laid for characters like Levi Coffin or the rescued man that pay off later on. Much more than the other prequel books, Secret Vengeance tells a satisfying story on its own that adds to the Repairman Jack canon, while not directly contradicting anything that occurs later on.