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Much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Gia, Repairman Jack doesn’t deal with appliances ― he fixes situations for people, situations that too often land him in deadly danger. His latest fix is finding a stolen necklace which, unknown to him, is more than a simple piece of jewelry. Some might say it’s cursed, other might call it blessed. The quest leads Jack to a rusty freighter on Manhattan’s West Side docks. What he finds in its hold threatens his sanity and the city around him. But worst of all, it threatens Gia’s daughter Vicky, the last surviving member of a bloodline marked for extinction. “F. Paul Wilson is a great storyteller and a thoughtful one.” David Morrell
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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 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.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Repairman Jack awoke with light in his eyes, white noise in his ears, and an ache in his back.
He’d fallen asleep on the couch in the spare bedroom where he kept his DVD player and projection TV. He turned his head toward the set. A nervous tweed pattern buzzed around on the six-foot screen while the air conditioner in the right half of the double window beside it worked full blast to keep the room at seventy.
He got to his feet with a groan and shut off the TV. The hiss of white noise stopped. He leaned over and touched his toes, then straightened and rotated his lower spine. His back was killing him. That couch was made for sitting, not sleeping.
He stepped to the player and ejected the disc. He’d fallen asleep during the closing credits of the 1931 Frankenstein, part one of Repairman Jack’s unofficial James Whale Festival.
Poor Henry Frankenstein, he thought, slipping the disc into its box. Despite all evidence to the contrary, despite what everyone around him thought, Henry had been sure he was sane.
Jack located the proper slot in the rack on the wall, shoved Frankenstein in, and pulled out its neighbor. Bride of Frankenstein, part two of his private James Whale Festival.
A glance out the window revealed the usual vista of sandy shore, calm blue ocean, and supine sunbathers. He was tired of the view. Especially since some of the bricks had started showing through. Three years since he’d had the scene painted on the blank wall facing the windows of this and the other bedroom. Long enough. The beach scene no longer interested him. Perhaps a rain forest mural would be better. With lots of birds and reptiles and animals hiding in the foliage. Yes ... a rain forest. He filed the thought away. He’d have to keep an eye out for someone who could do the job justice.
The phone began ringing in the front room. Who could that be? He’d changed his number a couple of months ago. Only a few people had it. He didn’t bother to lift the receiver. The answering machine would take care of that. He heard a click, heard his own voice start his standard salutation:
“Pinocchio Productions ... I’m not in right now, but if you’ll—”
A woman’s voice broke in over his own, her tone impatient. “Pick up if you’re there, Jack. Otherwise I’ll call back later.”
Jack nearly tripped over his own feet in his rush to the phone.
“Gia? That you?”
“Yes, it’s me.” Her voice sounded flat, almost resentful.
“God! It’s been a long time!” Two months. Forever. He had to sit down. “I’m so glad you called.”
“It’s not what you think, Jack.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not calling for myself. If it were up to me I wouldn’t be calling at all. But Nellie asked me to.”
His jubilation faded, but he kept talking. “Who’s Nellie?” He drew a blank on the name.
“Nellie Paton. You must remember Nellie and Grace, the two English ladies?”
“Oh, yeah. How could I forget? They introduced us.”
“I’ve managed to forgive them.”
Jack let that go by without comment. “What’s the problem?”
“Grace has disappeared. She hasn’t been seen since she went to bed Monday night.”
He remembered Grace Westphalen: a very prim and proper Englishwoman pushing seventy. Not the eloping sort.
“Have the police—?”
“Of course. But Nellie wanted me to call you to see if you’d help. So I’m calling.”
“Does she want me to come over?”
“Yes. If you will.”
“Will you be there?”
She gave an exasperated sigh. “Yes. Are you coming or not?”
“I’m on my way.”
“Better wait. The patrolmen who were here said a detective from the department would be coming by this morning.”
“Oh.” That wasn’t good.
“I thought that might slow you up.”
She didn’t have to sound so smug about it.
“I’ll be there after lunch.”
“You know the address?”
“I know it’s a yellow townhouse on Sutton Square. There’s only one.”
“I’ll tell her to expect you.”
And then she hung up.
Jack tossed the receiver in his hand and cradled it on the base.
He was going to see Gia today. She’d called him. She hadn’t been friendly, and she’d said she was calling for someone else—but she’d called. That was more than she’d done since she’d walked out. He couldn’t help feeling good.
He strolled through the third-floor apartment’s front room that served as living room and dining room. He found the room immensely comfortable, but few visitors shared his enthusiasm. His best friend, Abe Grossman, had, in one of his more generous moods, described the room as “claustrophobic.” When Abe was feeling grumpy he said it made the Addams Family house look like it had been decorated in Bauhaus.
Old movie posters covered the walls along with bric-a-brac shelves loaded with the neat stuff Jack picked up in forgotten junk stores during his wanderings through the city. He wound his way through a collection of old Victorian golden oak furniture that left little room for anything else: a seven-foot hutch, intricately carved, a fold-out secretary, a sagging, high-backed sofa, a massive claw-foot dining table, two end tables whose legs each ended in a bird’s foot clasping a crystal sphere, and his favorite, a big, wing-back chair.
He reached the bathroom and started the hated morning ritual of shaving. As he ran the razor over his cheeks and throat he again considered the idea of a beard. He didn’t have a bad face. Brown eyes, dark brown hair growing perhaps a little too low on his forehead. A nose neither too big nor too small. He smiled at himself in the mirror. Not an altogether hideous grimace—what they used to call a shit-eating grin. The teeth could have been whiter and straighter, and the lips were on the thin side, but not a bad smile. An inoffensive face. As an added bonus, a wiry, well-muscled, five-eleven frame went along with the face at no extra charge.
So what’s not to like?
His smile faltered.
Ask Gia. She seems to think she knows what’s not to like.
But all that was going to change starting today.
After a quick shower, he dressed and downed a couple of bowls of Cocoa Puffs, then strapped on his ankle holster and slipped the world’s smallest .45, a Semmerling skeleton model LM4, into it. He knew the holster was going to be hot against his leg, but he never went out unarmed. His peace of mind would compensate for any physical discomfort.
He checked the peephole in the front door, then twisted the central knob, retracting the four bolts at the top, bottom, and both sides. The heat in the third floor hall slammed against him at the threshold. He was wearing Levi’s and a lightweight short-sleeve shirt. He was glad he’d skipped the undershirt. The humidity in the hall wormed its way into his clothes and oozed over his skin as he headed down to the street.
Jack stood on the front steps for a moment. Sunlight glared sullenly through the haze over the roof of the Museum of Natural History far down the street to his right. The wet air hung motionless above the pavement. He could see it, smell it, taste it—and it looked, smelled, and tasted dirty. Dust, soot, and lint laced with carbon monoxide, with perhaps a hint of rancid butter from the garbage can around the corner in the alley.
Ah! The Upper West Side in August.
He ambled down to the sidewalk and walked west along the row of brownstones that lined his street. Along the way he pulled out his Tracfone and dialed his office number, then a four-digit code. A recorded voice—not Jack’s—came over the wire with the familiar message:
“This is Repairman Jack. I’m out on a call now, but when you hear the tone, leave your name and number and give me a brief idea of the nature of your problem. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
After the tone a woman’s voice started talking about a problem with the timer on her dryer. Another beep and a man was looking for some free information on how to fix a blender. Jack ignored the numbers they gave; he had no intention of calling them back. But how did they get his number? He’d restricted his name to the white pages—with an incorrect street address, naturally—to cut down on appliance repair calls, but people managed to find him anyway.
The third and last voice was unique: smooth in tone, the words clipped, rapid, tinged with Britain, but definitely not British. Jack knew a couple of Pakistanis who sounded like that. The man was obviously upset, and stumbled over his words.
“Mr. Jack ... my grandmother—was beaten terribly last night. I must speak to you immediately. It is terribly important.”
He gave his name and a number where he could be reached.
That was one call Jack would return, even though he was going to have to turn the man down. He intended to devote all his time to Gia’s problem. And to Gia. This might be his last chance with her.
He punched in the number. The clipped voice answered in the middle of the second ring.
“Mr. Bahkti? This is Jack. You called my office during the night and—”
Mr. Bahkti was suddenly very guarded. “This is not the same voice on the answering machine.”
Sharp, Jack thought. The voice on the machine belonged to Abe Grossman. Jack never used his own voice on the office phone. But most people didn’t spot that.
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Book Description Berkley. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0425072959. Seller Inventory # H9-658
Book Description Berkley, 1984. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0425072959
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