The Dispatcher by Ryan David Jahn

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The Dispatcher
As soon as he hears the name, Maggie Hunt, Ian's lips go numb, and like a low note plucked on a taut metal cord running through his middle, a strange vibration ripples through him. Nausea in F-sharp minor.

He swallows.

'Maggie?' He inhales through his nostrils and exhales through his mouth in a long trembling sigh. 'Maggie,' he says, 'it's Daddy.'

Ian Hunt is working a regular day at the dispatch office, receiving more prank calls than genuine ones at the job, when a call comes through from a payphone. The distressed caller is a girl who introduces herself as Maggie Hunt, Ian's own daughter who has been missing for the past seven years, and whose funeral was arranged four months earlier to give her mother closure. She had just managed to escape and is hoping for help, but her abductor manages to get her in time. Ian, now convinced that his daughter is very much alive, will stop at nothing to get her back, even if it means punching a few noses, chopping a few fingers or killing someone.

This book is not really my usual fare, but I only chose it because Ryan David Jahn wrote it. After loving the ingenuity of Good Neighbors, I was looking for more magic when I opted to read this one. Unfortunately, this one just didn't do it for me. I know it is my elevated expectations that spoiled my enjoyment because otherwise, The Dispatcher was a pretty good crime novel.

Ryan David Jahn
One of the main strengths of this book is its characters. There are quite a few narrators, from Ian to his daughter, from her abductor to Ian's friend. Except for Maggie, the daughter, all the other narrators were very well-etched. Maggie felt quite weak to me, and I guess it's because of the minimal information I got about how she has been managing for seven years - her education, her mental condition, her emotional maturity, etc. She didn't appear too affected by the abduction - there is a lot of anger but not any of the emotional effects I would expect to see.

The Dispatcher was pretty fast paced and a bit gruesome. There are some really stomach churning moments and a lot of bloodshed in the book. I didn't feel all that uncomfortable reading the book, but it should be stated that there are quite a few kidnappings and child killings in the book, in case that's something that gives you a headache. The gruesomeness was pretty vivid in Good Neighbors as well, but I think The Dispatcher will take the cake in that department.

The plot itself was pretty well setup. My usual problems with crime novels are how much the writer teases the reader - the good guy will be thiscloseto catching the bad guy before something happens, he escapes and I roll my eyes. I didn't feel manipulated in this case - the expected things happen, and then some unexpected things happen, but nothing that involves the police coming in at the last minute after all the gunshots are fired. The setting being in Texas, there is a lot of landscape descriptions that are not really my cup of tea but will be delicious to anyone who loves a good setting.

One of my issues with this book has to do with my ebook copy itself. I read it via Kindle, sent directly from NetGalley, and the copy was pretty badly organized. The paragraphs weren't properly split up between perspectives. The transition from one narrator to another is not so obvious that sometimes I am a couple of paragraphs into the next person's story before I realize it. This was my first time reading NetGalley copies on the Kindle app - I usually read on my Nook. Not a big issue, but a jarring note, nevertheless.

Despite all the wonderful things I wrote about this book, it didn't really intrigue me much. The middle portion of the book slowed down quite a bit and there wasn't much happening either to move the story along. There are many other characters who come and go through the book. I was disappointed that some of them aren't explored more considering the strategic placement of quite a few subplots. I also felt that Maggie's abductor was occasionally acting out of character - of course, what's out of character for a kidnapper is debatable. His wife was quite frustrating most of the time that I wasn't sure what her ailment was. It was these weak characterizations that eventually took away my enjoyment. I did however like how the author left the ending ambiguous, and although I would love to know how Ian manages after it all ends, I do see how I will be dissatisfied with whichever ending the author chooses.

I received this ebook for free for review from the publisher via TLC Book Tours and NetGalley.

6 comments:

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

Sorry you didn't care for it much.  The premise sounds good to me, so it sounds like the book had potential.

Helen Murdoch said...

As you said, the premise is good, but I just can't read about child kidnappings and killings since my daughter is still young. It just hits too close. Maybe when she is older I can start reading books with this topic again

Ti said...

I groaned a little when I read the synopsis. Definitely not your kind of book...or mine. I do read crime novels once in awhile but they aren't usually American crime novels. I lean toward Scandinavian crime fiction if I read it at all. 

zibilee said...

Oh, I am sorry that this one was not completely satisfying to you! It's not my normal fare either, but I had been hoping that it would be something that I could lose myself in. It sounds as though it was an ok book, but a little rough around the edges. It will be interesting to see what I make of it when I read it. Thanks for the always honest and straightforward opinion!

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm sorry to see that this one didn't live up to your expectations, because as you say, it does seem like a great crime novel.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.

Athira / Aths said...

It definitely started out like that, but halfway in, I was getting bored.