Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)'s Reviews > The Dispatcher

The Dispatcher by Ryan David Jahn
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Jan 13, 2012

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bookshelves: f-general, source-review, 2012, f-thriller, format-ebooks, fiction
Read from February 13 to 19, 2012

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.

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.

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