Book Dragon is Reading - FaceOff, edited by David Baldacci


7. Infernal Night [Michael Quinn vs. Repairman Jack] by Heather Graham vs. F. Paul Wilson

Like “The Laughing Buddha” this story had explicitly supernatural elements, which makes the lack of them in “Gaslighted” more puzzling. And yet I find it weird this continues to bug me, as the story works well for what it is, and it’s hardly as if I am familiar with the source material and thereby bothered by an unfaithfulness.

Anyway, this one was interesting with lone wolf for hire ‘Jack’, “just Jack”, he would say, and every time I could not help thinking of that character from Will & Grace who I never liked - lone wolf for hire “Jack” hired all the way down from New York to New Orleans for a suspiciously simple request by a suspiciously wealthy and loosely moral benefactor.

Suspicions borne out when he manages to avoid a fight with Michael Quinn and conferring they discover they’ve been set against each other. It’s all to do with tremendously perilous ancient artefacts they’ve both had experience with in a way which comes across as tying strongly to the ongoing mythology of both characters. I’m not familiar with either of them, but in this story it feels very well integrated. Quinn is an agent of another (Danni Cafferty) as the muscle protecting people from dangerous magic, and although Jack seems to be mainly in the business of mundane dangers he’s had run-ins with magic too. The tale he tells sounds too specific and significant for me to think it wasn’t covered in one of his prior stories.

This story seems to be weaving Jack’s past into Quinn’s present so well that it makes sense for it to have an ongoing impact on both characters and their future stories. Pretty good on that front then, bringing together two characters and making me feel like of course they would share a setting, of course. Think I’d be interested in checking out both their series.

This is another example of what I was talking about wert “Gaslighted”, New Orleans as the mystic well of America, the place where magic lives and from which white heroes draw fantastical adventures. It also put me in mind of Alastair Reynolds’ stories in his Conjoiner setting, particularly the planet Yellowstone and the character of the Mademoiselle[1]. Makes me wonder if the imagery for that may have been drawn somewhat also from New Orleans.

[1] Apart from having a similar name to Madame de Medici, they are implied to have similar backstories according to my reading of the relevant stories.