I loved this book and was not disappointed in it at all. So many reviewers were disappointed that there were no usual RJ "fixes," but, in reality, his "fix" is to save Weezy and that leads to his "fix" to try and save The Lady and her dog. For those of you who haven't read the early Jack novels, you will not appreciate this chapter of the RJ storyline as much as those of us who have read about young Jack. After losing his sister, brother, father, and unborn child, it was nice to see him reconnect with someone who was like family to him when he was growing up. It has been hard to see Jack lose all ties to his past, even though he has tried to forget about his past. It also gives him a little of his older humanity back, as he has been on the road to becoming a cold, hardened, weapon, tempered only by Gia and Vicky. Of course this change in him is going to become necessary, but it is nice to hold the complete transformation off for a little while.
This book ties up very nicely with Jack: Secret Circles, a book I highly recommend to adult readers. As we RJ fans all know by now, Jack's path was set for him as a young adult and this book brings a recognition that at least two of the characters we have learned about in the adult books, turn out to have been in his life before. And there's a twist about Glaeken which also harkens back to Jack's childhood. For those readers new to Repairman Jack, you will find this review somewhat incomprehensible. So I suggest that you not read this novel as your first taste of F Paul Wilson. Both the Adversary Cycle and the young adult books, as well as the novel Black Wind, give you a great background for the RJ storyline. I suggest reading the books in order and it would be even better to start with the young adult books, moving to the Adversary Cycle, and then into the main RJ novels. This is helpful because The Tomb, an Adversary Cycle book, is actually the first adult RJ series book, and because Jack: Secret Circles has a relation to The Touch, an Adversary Cycle Book. I would also read Black Wind before reading By The Sword. If you read the books in this order, you will come to appreciate Repairman Jack as more than just the fun and exiting "fixer" who is introduced to us in the early RJ adult novels. And, as many loose ends need to be tied up to bring us to the last books (I don't know what I'll do when they are all done), this book, with exposition more than "tons of action" needs to be read. But don't get me wrong, I think there is plenty of action in this book (lots of people get killed; there is plenty of shooting, an attempted kidnapping, and other exciting incidents, such as fires and explosions), even if the last part of the action turns out to be seemingly futile. Yes, I missed having more of Abe in the book, but think that Weezy made a good substitute, as she was Jack's only true friend as a child the way Abe is Jack's only true friend as an adult (not counting Gia, of course, and I don't consider Julio a close friend of Jack's). Personally, I loved to see F Paul use this novel to debunk the current 9/11 conspiracy theorists, not by supporting bin Laden vs. our own government, but by giving us an even older conspiracy. It was also nice to finally have a character who could actually learn something from the Compendium of Srem.
I read The Touch before our current health care debate and it was uncanny how Wilson predicted what happened in 2009/2010 years before. And anyone interested in or worried about the economy should definitely read a non RJ book called An Enemy of the State (from the LaNague trilogy). I think this is the scariest of all of his books - no Otherness, no monsters, no horror, but a sickening prediction of our current economic state and where it could lead us to. And this book was also written years before we arrived at our current economic woes.
One of the reasons I love Repairman Jack is that I wish I had the courage and resourcefulness to be "off the grid" the way he is. Yes, it keeps him from getting married and makes plane travel harder for him (but it's hard enough even for those of us "on the grid" these days), but the idea of keeping government intrusion at bay is a delightful one to me.
I'm an F Paul Wilson addict and recommend all his books without reservation. But for those just starting out, this book will not make much sense to you and you will wonder what all the fuss is about.