The Quest for Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell (1999, Free Press)
This is a set of four essays by Dr. Sowell, all relating to the concepts of justice and equity. In them, he takes his lifetime of studying the subtleties of economics and applies it to fundamental philosophical problems addressing the American national structure.
It is heady stuff. In the manner of academics and politicians everywhere, he takes a hundred and eighty pages to say what could be summed up in twenty.
That, however, is where the beauty lies. In many books of this sort, a premise is padded with repetitive examples and obfuscatory language, and attempts to hammer the reader into intellectual submission, at which time the point is expected to be accepted.
Sowell does none of this. His language is precise, while his thought processes are easy to follow. The result is a treatise which will provide an interested reader with not merely a conclusion but the steps by which that conclusion is reached, with each step buttressed by reason and fact.
I have never read a bad book by Thomas Sowell, and this is among the best of his impressive corpus.
The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson (1984, Whispers Press)
For everyone who feels burnt out on Stephen King, F. Paul Wilson is a great alternative and this is a prime place to start. The character introduced in The Tomb, Repairman Jack, is exactly the sort of hero one would expect from Wilson. He’s funny, he’s bright, and he’s not subscribing to illusions about his place in the world; he recognizes his abilities and appreciates those of others.
Jack is a Repairman in the broadest sense of the word, living not off but outside of the grid in the New York area. He doesn’t fix appliances, he fixes problems. An ex is stalking you? The ex will stop. Someone is blackmailing you? You’ll get the blackmail material. He charges what he believes people can afford, and adheres firmly to his moral code. Before “The Equalizer” became a television show, Jack was doing the same thing and doing it better.
Jack takes a request to find a stolen necklace. Standard procedure… except that this necklace enables control of the last remnants of a deadly race of creatures that inspired tales of Indian monsters, and simply taking the job puts Jack and his loved ones into jeopardy.
It’s an inspired cross between action thriller and horror novel.
After the book, Jack was incorporated into a few short stories and a later novel, but he didn’t star in another novel for more than a decade and only at the repeated insistence of the aforementioned Stephen King, who wanted to read more of the character. In the late 1990s, the character caught on, and you can read all eighteen Jack novels and three young adult novels… so far. Jack, it seems, does not “retire” well.