The Last Christmas: A Repairman Jack Novel by F. Paul Wilson
Crossroads Press (September 2019)
370 pages; $25.94 hardcover; $18.06 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
It can be a dicey thing when an author brings back one of their beloved series characters after closing off that character’s series with such a satisfying conclusion. In the back of your head, as a reader, you’re thinking, “I just want one more adventure with one of my favorite literary characters.” And yet, when that does happen…there’s enough anxiety to give you pause. Maybe the story just won’t read the same as the others. Maybe it won’t have that same snap the other installments had, or, if the author is creating a new adventure in the middle of an already completed series, maybe the story will cause too many continuity errors to be thoroughly enjoyable.
Also, sometimes, as a reader…you’re just “done” with that character. For example, as much as I loved Roland Deschain from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower saga, I still haven’t read The Wind Through the Keyhole. For some reason…I’m just “done” with Roland, and have no interest in reading any more stories about him, much as I loved the original journey.
It was with great regret that I turned the last page of Nightfall, Repairman Jack’s last adventure. I can say without a shadow of a doubt he’s my favorite series character of all time. This may sound crazy, but because I came to Jack a little late, Nightfall was already out by the time F. Paul Wilson announced Jack’s prequel trilogy. I literally put off reading Nightfall so I could read the prequel trilogy first, just because I wanted to avoid what happened to me with the new Roland Deschain adventure.
So you can imagine the conflicting emotions at the news of a new Repairman Jack adventure. I felt overjoyed, yet at the same time, worried. Would it work? Would it still read like the same old Jack? I had full confidence in F. Paul Wilson’s storytelling abilities, but—much as I love King’s work to this day, I just can’t get back into Roland. Would I struggle the same with The Last Christmas?
It is with great satisfaction that I can report that The Last Christmas is as every bit as good as old-school Repairman Jack. F. Paul Wilson has once again brought to life one of the most enduring and versatile genre series characters around today. This new case—avoiding spoilers—fits very nicely into the cosmic conflict Jack is embroiled in, as he’s on the hunt for a thing of terrible cosmic power, a near cousin to something which has already had a dreadful impact on his life. In classic Jack fashion, Wilson mixes elements of the thriller/suspense genre with government intrigue, weird science, and cosmic horror. Seeing Jack, Abe, Glaeken, and Julio again was like re-visiting old friends. Also, he introduces two new characters which I would love to see again in another Jack adventure, should there ever be another offering.
And as a far as continuity goes, The Last Christmas fits in nearly seamlessly. Series devotees like myself will revel in how The Last Christmas fits into the mosaic of Jack’s mythos. Do yourself or a friend a favor this holiday season: get The Last Christmas now.