cover image The Dispatcher: Travel by Bullet

The Dispatcher: Travel by Bullet

John Scalzi. Subterranean, $45 (224p) ISBN 978-1-64524-081-5

Hugo Award winner Scalzi has a good deal of fun in his hard-boiled third Dispatcher adventure (after The Dispatcher: Murder By Other Means), returning to an alternate present in which people who are murdered reappear in a place they feel safe and professional “dispatchers” kill those dying of natural causes to give them a second chance. Dispatcher Tony Valdez is called into the emergency room to save Mason Schilling, a fellow dispatcher with a more dubious approach to the work who has just thrown himself out of a moving car, and reluctantly accepts a secret handoff of a cryptocurrency wallet before dispatching Mason. Around the same time, a crypto entrepreneur dies apparently by suicide at a party for the rich and famous. Now police and one-percenters alike are after information—and Valdez and Mason are in the crosshairs. This episode extends to novel length, but the feeling is still of a novella: the pacing is fast, the dialogue is crisp, and Scalzi’s expectation that his readers understand tech keeps exposition to a minimum. The cast largely plays within the roles established in previous stories, so those hoping for more growth or forward momentum may be disappointed. Still, many series fans will be content with more of the same under this unusual premise. (Mar.)