BY THE SWORD by F. Paul Wilson


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Blood runs in the streets of Manhattan and a couple of the outer boroughs as prehistoric forces slice and dice to gain possession of a preternaturally keen Japanese sword.

Repairman Jack, the resourceful hero last seen in Wilson’s Bloodline (2007), takes on his latest assignment at the request of a visitor from Hawaii. Nakanaori Slater is in New York hoping to recover a bit of history. It’s a katana, a warrior’s sword crafted by a legendary Japanese craftsman. The sword, the only thing not vaporized at Hiroshima’s Ground Zero, was stolen from the Peace Museum ten years after the war and hasn’t been seen since. Mr. Slater’s retainer is a fat one, and Jack accepts the assignment, drawing on the wisdom of his wisecracking but canny chums who point him to a shop specializing in knives and swords whose owner knows more than he is telling. The katana is indeed somewhere in the neighborhood, but Jack is far from the only one in the hunt. Also lurking are the earnest employee of a super-powerful Japanese conglomerate, accompanied by three beefy yakuza thugs, and an ambitious novice from a murderous Japanese monastic order currently in residence in the middle of the city’s gigantic Staten Island landfill. How weird are the monks? As they advance in rank, prowess and holiness, they carve off ever more extremities until they are fierce featureless lumps. Oh, and they are wizards at biological warfare, as demonstrated in the small-scale eradication of every life form in what was once a nice glade. There are also some homegrown weirdos, the Kickers, a gang of tattooed lowlifes headed by Hank Thompson, a bad hat with whom Jack has done prior battle. Hank and the Kickers want to unite the katana with a teenager named Dawn, impregnated by the villain with the worst DNA in the world. Jack, who has a bit of that DNA himself, soldiers on to the catastrophic climax.

Bloody, sordid and apocalyptic but, thanks to Jack’s can-do attitude, plenty of fun.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7653-1707-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2008


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