Ian Hunt is the police dispatcher for the small town of Bulls Mouth, East Texas. Just as his shift is ending he gets a call from his fourteen-year-old daughter, Maggie.
Maggie, who has just been declared dead, having been snatched from her bedroom seven years ago. Her call ends in a scream.
The trail leads to a local couple, but this is just the start of his battle to get his daughter back. What follows is a bullet-strewn cross-country chase along Interstate 10, from Texas to California.
Whatever plans you’ve made over the next couple of days I urge you to cancel them! The Dispatcher by Ryan David Jahn is a prime example of a book that hooks you in from the very first paragraph and doesn’t leave you alone until you finish reading the very last sentence. Gripping, taut and unreservedly intense the book works on many levels and The Dispatcher for me is without question one of the quickest books I’ve read this year.
This may be a little strange to comment on but the font used was just perfect and the book is presented in such a way that you just keep turning the pages over and over in quick succession, small chapters ensuring a continual development in the story and a pacy feel. Although I don’t get chance to read as much as I used to in the gym these days I opened the book last night, while on the cross trainer, and began reading. With only eighty pages to go I couldn’t believe it when, 65 minutes later, I’d finished the book! Talk about forgetting where you were and making exercise enjoyable, enjoyable because I didn’t feel as if I was working out! So not only did my body get a well needed workout, my mind did too!
The Dispatcher relies on two protagonists, namely Ian Hunt, a police dispatcher who has never recovered from losing his seven year old daughter Maggie and Henry Dean, an evil husband who does all he can to protect his family. Their two lives clash when the dispatcher answers a frantic phone call from his long lost daughter.
Both protagonists have a lot in common; one working within the confines of law and the other as far away from legality as you could possibly go. As the story evolves Ian Hunt dramatically changes in personality and in his actions. The development in his personality were one of the highlights of the book for me, acting on desperation and determination Hunt continues to push his own moralistic boundaries as he fights for what’s right. He will let no man or woman stand in his way, Lord help anyone who does.
Henry Dean is an animal, evil personified, and it has been a while since I truly hated a fictional character but if there’s one character I’d happily drive over the edge of a cliff – not with me in the car obviously – then Dean would be that man! Unhinged, depraved and mentally unstable Dean is a loose cannon and like Hunt he will not let anything get in the way of keeping his family safe and possessions safe. The longer the book goes on the more the two main characters appear analogous, they begin to think the same and although their actions are different their goals are similar, it’s quite unnerving!
Desperation grows in both camps as the story progresses and I often felt the characters were reactive, reacting to situations they found themselves in and one action – no matter how big or small – sent a ripple effect throughout the book. I loved the way both Dean and Hunt dramatically changed, Dean psychotically so and by the time the book finished I wasn’t sure if I’d want to meet either character in a dark ally. Supported by numerous bit characters the other stand out was Dean’s wife who was about as useful as a wet paper bag. The Deans are despicable people but without doubt not all there and this alone lets you understand some of their actions.
A terrifically dark read, The Dispatcher will thrill and entertain and perhaps even shock you a little. The next time you pick up the phone, just be careful what you wish for.