The Dispatcher (5 stars)
This story holds up on re-read. I haven’t read my first review of this audiobook, so it’ll be interesting to see how it lines up, but I do remember liking it the first time I listened to it.
First, I think Zachary Quinto needs to narrate more books. He has this marvelously dry voice that is both soothing and unobtrusive. It’s easy to listen to without being boring. And he has a great ear for voices.
Second, I will read anything by John Scalzi.
These stories take place in a world where murdered people magically come back to life, naked and in a place where they feel safe. There’s no explanation for this, and the characters are just as bewildered by this development as we are. Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher: a person tasked with killing people to save their lives. For instance, dispatchers often work in hospitals. If a patient is near death, the dispatcher will kill the patient, and they’ll then come back to life, naked and in a place in which they feel safe. If the dispatcher isn’t there, the person will die permanently if their cause of death was accidental, natural, or self-inflicted.
Valdez is coerced into investigating the disappearance of a colleague by……jeez. I forgot the name of the detective, even though I finished the second book in the series yesterday. Langdon? Detective Langdon? That sounds right. Anyway. He doesn’t want to investigate the disappearance. He’s not a detective. But she makes it hard to say no.
And it’s a decent mystery. The story is pretty short, so it’s not dragged out to a ridiculous degree.
This is a solid story, and I’ll happily read more in this world. I like the characters, the stories are interesting mystery-science fiction-thrillers with an urban fantasy twist. And, being that it’s written by John Scalzi, there’s a nice dry humor that permeates the whole thing.
Murder by Other Means (5 stars)
Austerity measures have limited Valdez’s ability to get work, and the Chicago PD are under the same constraints, so he can’t even get work with his Detective friend……I’m still going to say: Langdon? Yeah. Still going with that.
Meanwhile, people start dying. And Tony has connections to them. So the police start to suspect him of being a murderer.
I think the main difference between these two stories is that this one is less violent than The Dispatcher. So if that turned you off the first story, it’s less of an issue, here.