Welcome to the new world, in which murder is all but a thing of the past. When someone kills you, 999 times out of 1,000, you instantly come back to life. In this world, there are dispatchers—licensed killers who step in when you’re at risk of a natural or unintentional death. They kill you—so you can live.
Tony Valdez is used to working his job as a dispatcher within the rules of the law and the state. But times are tough, and more and more Tony finds himself riding the line between what’s legal and what will pay his bills. After one of these shady gigs, and after being a witness to a crime gone horribly wrong, Tony discovers that people around him are dying, for reasons that make no sense...and which just may implicate him.
Tony is running out of time: to solve the mystery of these deaths, to keep others from dying, and to keep himself from being a victim of what looks like murder, by other means.
With the quirky sequel to The Dispatcher, Scalzi plays with the question of what a future in which murder has become outdated might look like. Because of an unexplained glitch, people who die of natural causes stay dead, but those who are murdered almost always reappear naked and unharmed in their homes. Dispatchers do much of their work at hospitals, killing patients who are about to die so that they have the chance to come back but for those tempted by large offers of cash, there are less ethical opportunities for dispatchers as well. Dispatcher Tony Valdez, for example, helps a businessman instantly travel from Chicago to China by shooting him in the head. But when Tony's caught in the midst of a bungled bank robbery soon afterward, followed by a series of odd suicides in his vicinity, both he and his contact at the Chicago PD, Nona Langdon, race to figure out what's going on. Valdez's voice is distinct, and Scalzi's decision to blithely ignore the mechanics of his bizarre premise keeps the story simple, encouraging the reader to enjoy the ride without thinking too hard. This is a fun romp, but not one with staying power. \n
Scalzi alway delivers a good sort, solid characters, and good dialog. The twist on which the story turns was very obvious, but that did not interfere with enjoying the story.
Scalzi always tells a story well enough that “spoilers” don’t matter. When his characters don’t see something you do see there is never an “oh, come on!” moment. They are acting from their world and character, so the story works.