cover image The Dispatcher: Murder by Other Means

The Dispatcher: Murder by Other Means

John Scalzi. Subterranean, $40 (192p) ISBN 978-1-64524-017-4

With the quirky sequel to The Dispatcher, Scalzi plays with the question of what a future in which murder has become outdated might look like. Because of an unexplained glitch, people who die of natural causes stay dead, but those who are murdered almost always reappear naked and unharmed in their homes. Dispatchers do much of their work at hospitals, killing patients who are about to die so that they have the chance to come back—but for those tempted by large offers of cash, there are less ethical opportunities for dispatchers as well. Dispatcher Tony Valdez, for example, helps a businessman instantly travel from Chicago to China by shooting him in the head. But when Tony’s caught in the midst of a bungled bank robbery soon afterward, followed by a series of odd suicides in his vicinity, both he and his contact at the Chicago PD, Nona Langdon, race to figure out what’s going on. Valdez’s voice is distinct, and Scalzi’s decision to blithely ignore the mechanics of his bizarre premise keeps the story simple, encouraging the reader to enjoy the ride without thinking too hard. This is a fun romp, but not one with staying power. [em](Apr.) [/em]