Over the years, Repairman Jack has faced powerful, seemingly unstoppable forces of both human and otherworldly natures. Whether it's demons from ancient India, Arab oil monopolists for whom human life means nothing before their own greed, or the utterly alien Otherness seeking a toehold into out reality, he has always managed to come out on top. But now he must face the greatest challenge of all, the dark kernel of violence that exists beneath everyone's civilized veneer, especially his own....
There's nothing dangerous about a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. At least, that's what Jack believes, until he, Gia, and Vicky are faced with the most bizarre sights they've ever seen on the front steps of the museum. A mob of middle-aged preppies is advancing on the steps, first harassing, then physically attacking everyone who gets in their way. So strange is the situation that Jack's guard drops briefly ... until one of the preppies grabs Vicky and tries to throw her over the railing. That sight causes Jack to open up and unleash the darkness within himself, the dark rage that allows him to snatch Vicky from the man's hands at the last second, then turn and hurl the attacker bodily down the stairs. And when Gia is attacked as well, Jack can barely pull himself back from the brink after battering her attacker's face into a bloody ruin against the museum's stone facade. The three manage to escape as the police arrive and return home badly shaken and confused.
Jack is determined to exact his own brand of revenge on the man who tried to kill Vicky, but soon discovers the assailant was a victim himself of a prank gone horribly wrong. The entire mob was under the influence of a new designer drug, Berzerk, which had been in spiked punch at their class reunion. In smaller doses, Berzerk gives feelings of power and control, but in larger doses, it unleashes the all of the pent up anger that everyone has to one extent or another. Berzerk has another strange property that no one understands: all samples of it seem to go inert at the same time, roughly once a month, and a new batch doesn't become available for a few days after that.
In the mean time, Jack is approached by a young biochemist named Nadia Radzminsky, who was referred to him by former customer Alicia Clayton. She has just started a new job with GEM Pharmaceuticals and is concerned about her new boss, Luc Monnet. She's seen him involved with well-known and well-connected Serbian gangster Milos Dragovic, and wants Jack to find out what the connection between them is, and possibly find a way to get Monnet free of the Slippery Serb. She's convinced Monnet's being coerced, possibly blackmailed into doing something, but Jack's not so sure the relationship isn't both voluntary and of mutual financial benefit. But he agrees to take the case, especially since another client has contacted him about a matter concerning Dragovic.
And so begins a whirlwind adventure in which Jack must discover the links between Dragovic, Monnet, GEM Pharmaceuticals, and find a way to sever them. The chase leads him all over New York City and to the last place on earth he ever wanted to visit again, Monroe, New Jersey, where he discovers the dark secret of Berzerk's origins in an old enemy he thought long dead. If he can keep himself and those he loves alive long enough in the face of the powerful gangster and the designer drug, he just might stand a chance at getting Nadia free.
** Some minor spoilers follow, you have been warned. **
Throughout his life, Jack has always fought to keep his violent temper in check. This point has been stressed in every Repairman Jack novel; but never as strongly as in All the Rage. When the preppy mob attacks, putting Gia and Vicky in immediate danger, we see him let the darkness inside himself loose like never before. Even when exacting revenge on the man who killed his mother, Jack was more in control then when fighting off the preppies dosed with Berzerk. And later in the novel, F. Paul Wilson plays Jacks two greatest fears, of losing control and of something happening to those he loves, off each other by having him slipped a substantial dose of the drug himself. It is a testament to how deeply and strongly the control is ingrained within him that Jack is able to fight the unstoppable rage long enough to get himself as far from Gia and Vicky as possible. They are left shaken and afraid (both for and of him), but unharmed. And then we get to see just what a man as strong and lethal as Jack is truly capable of without any inhibitions to hold him back. Having fought my own battles with a violent temper, that was one of the most gripping parts of the book for me.
In the end, All the Rage boils down to a story of poetic justice, with Wilson's unique mix of mystery, science, and the supernatural all blended together into an all around thriller. Filled with action, it still manages the kind of character development at which he excels. The villains are all well thought out and plausible; they could well have been "ripped from the headlines," as so many television crime drama plots are advertised. It would be comforting indeed to believe that someone like Repairman Jack were really available to fix things for us.
Wilson, F. Paul. All the Rage. Tom Doherty Associates. 2000.