by F. Paul Wilson
The penultimate Jack book. In this issue, Jack is hired by Munir, an Arab whose wife and son have been kidnapped by a sadistic lunatic who blames Munir for his sister’s 9/11 death – but the kidnapper is actually a tool of the Adversary, who needs Munir’s code to create a super cyber-virus. For the forces of the Adversary are intent on taking down the entire Internet, which will weaken the noosphere so much that the Lady will die.
This is a surprisingly weak Jack book, in my opinion. On the one hand, the street-level action involving Munir is top-notch. On the other hand, the plot against the Lady has one of the lamest resolutions in the history of plot (the attack succeeds, except it doesn’t, for some reason). Then there’s a side plot involving the former sentinel, Glaeken, which must occur in one of Wilson’s other innumerable inter-related books; its inclusion, as it adds nothing to the drama and serves only to distract, is perhaps ill-advised. Finally, there’s a scene of fan service, in which Jack takes down some Kicker thugs in the airport during the chaos that follows after the Internet is taken down: it’s a nice return to rage-filled, alpha-male Jack, but the scene is deeply flawed, as Jack leaves Gia and Vicki to go deal with the men, who had been harassing Gia. It seemed the most obvious thing in the world to me that their luring Jack away was a trap, not to get him, but to hurt him by attacking Gia. That it didn’t happen that way only shows that Wilson didn’t think of it, and it makes Jack look stupid. I would call this book the first misstep Wilson’s made in this saga.
[follows Ground Zero]