The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

No Series Name

Source: Netgalley

One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone - 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don't know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.

Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher - a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death's crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.

It's a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it's too late...before not even a Dispatcher can save him.

An interesting, "different" Urban Fantasy. Short in length at just shy of 140 pages, it mainly stands as a paranormally-touched novel with a noirish detective vibe. The main character may not be a cop, but he gets involved with an actual detective to help solve the mystery of where he old friend and co-worker has disappeared to. The noir vibe comes from the gritty dialogue exchanges when interrogating suspects and following leads. Throw in big crime bosses and secret cover-ups, and this comes across more mystery than fantasy.

As to the fantasy aspect, the world-building is certainly different. If you get murdered, you come back to life. Other causes of death - natural, aging, suicide, accidents, etc. - will leave you dead. The world doesn't know why or how it works, it just knows it does, so there are certain trained individuals called 'dispatchers' who treat it as a job. They frequently make their rounds at the hospital, with state licenses, to wait for failed surgeries or accidental victims to be willed in. If they know the patient is dying, they kill them first in a particular way, thus changing the cause of death to murder and giving the patient a chance at life again.

It sounds a little silly but there's complexities involved and it comes across pretty cool. The bulk of the story is spent explaining loopholes and pretty much everything you could wonder about this ability. Religion, morals, history, you name it. Written in a dialogue heavy style, the book keeps that intriguing exchange going strong to cause the pages to keep flying by. Not only is the book short, but the writing style makes it pass by even quicker.

If you're in the mood for something very different and well-written, but that won't take up a lot of time, try this one on for size. An honest review has been written after receiving from netgalley