The Dispatcher by Ryan David Jahn
Genre: Suspense Fiction
Publication Date: 2011
Source: provided by the publisher through NetGalley
The Short Version:
Police Dispatcher Ian Hunt is propelled into a frightening and sometimes grisly hunt when he answers a call and hears the voice of his daughter who was kidnapped seven years earlier.
Why I Read It:
The description of the book caught my attention right away and prompted me to try this new to me author.
Bulls Mouth, Texas is a sleepy little town. Ian Hunt works as the dispatcher when he’s not playing solitaire at work or drinking when he’s not at work. One day he answers a 911 call and his world is changed. The caller is his fourteen year old daughter. It’s the daughter who was kidnapped seven years ago from her bedroom and hasn’t been seen since. Everyone it seems except Ian was sure Maggie was dead. His (now ex) wife insisted on having a funeral a few months earlier and burying an empty casket so she could feel some closure. Ian agreed to go through with it but never gave up hope that Maggie was alive.
And now she’s on the phone.
When the call is cut short by her kidnapper Maggie is gone again. The difference is that this time Ian is not going to give up until he has his daughter back.
This is most definitely not a book for the squeamish. Ian’s quest (for it becomes a quest) to get his daughter back takes many a grisly turn. Maggie’s kidnapper is brutal and Ian resorts to equal levels of brutality before the story is over.
The story is told from multiple viewpoints sometimes abruptly making the switch. The majority is told by Ian, Maggie or her kidnapper but there are sections where other characters pick up the narration. This made pieces of it less surprising because I knew what Maggie’s kidnapper was doing and planning while Ian was trying to figure it out. Nevertheless the tension remained high.
The long hot dry road trip that leads to the final showdown is one that I could visualize in my head because I’ve driven through east Texas in August. The whole book almost felt like the sepia toned portions of Steven Soderbergh’s movie Traffic and I could imagine this as a movie fairly easily.
I had a little bit of trouble with Maggie’s character because sometimes she seemed to act and think too young and other times too old. I was able to get past that however because I recently read Jaycee Dugard’s memoir of her 18 years in captivity. Dugard talked freely about the fact that in some ways she was wise beyond her years due to her experience and in many other ways she was still very childlike. I think reading that book helped with accepting Maggie’s actions, insights and behavior.
As Ian and Maggie’s kidnapper get closer to their showdown, the differences between them become less and less. The things that Ian is willing to do in order to get his daughter back are not that different than what her kidnapper is willing to do to get away.
I thought it was good but brutal. It’s not one I’d encourage anyone to read but fans of the darker and more twisted stuff might like this one.