Audiobook short: The Dispatcher (narrated by Zachary Quinto)

As is fitting for an audiobook review :-), you can also listen to me reading it out loud, on the Christian Geek Central podcast, episode #504. Go to timestamp 40:59.

Sometimes you just want to listen to something nice for about 2-3 hours. You don’t feel like a podcast or some audio course, and who listens to Talk Radio anymore? No, you really want an audiobook, you just want a finished story this time.

It’s for occasions like these, that there are the really, really short audio books. Recently I listened to a great find in this category, called The Dispatcher. It’s written by John Scalzi, narrated by Zachary Quinto (yes, the one and only.). The unabridged version of this audio novella will take you only 2 hours and 19 minutes to finish.

Publisher’s Summary

Zachary Quinto – best known for his role as the Nimoy-approved Spock in the recent Star Trek reboot and the menacing, power-stealing serial killer, Sylar, in Heroes – brings his well-earned sci-fi credentials and simmering intensity to this audio-exclusive novella from master storyteller John Scalzi.

One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.

Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.

It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.

©2016 John Scalzi (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

My thoughts

This is a lovely palate cleanser between giant sagas and other enormous works of fiction. With a very original main premise to begin with, the author succeeds in turning the story into an interesting whodunnit. The atmosphere reminded me of a nineteen fourties black & white murder mystery, complete with a set of rather 2D characters that are, however, archetypal enough to pull you into the story.

Archetypal, and yet still ’21st century’ as well, with a protagonist whose shady morals are only somewhat uncovered as the story unfolds and cleverly leaves the rest to the listener’s imagination. Also not very ‘last century’, is the main character’s somewhat unwilling partnering with a slightly-manipulative-but-sympathetic-nonetheless female police detective. Think Misty in Marvel’s recent tv series Luke Cage.

It is not the most exciting of stories I’ve ever read or listened to, nor did it keep me glued to my couch. Nevertheless, the narrator is what makes this novella a great listen. Not only would Quinto’s voice make virtually any book enjoyable, he also employs some of his acting skills to give you different character voices, and more importantly, different emotions. That was a real treat.

All in all I enjoyed this down to earth murder mystery in its subtly present contemporary scifi setting enough to recommend it. However, for me personally it would not have been worth full price, it’s really too short for that.

Also follow my reviews on Audible.com! (where I am Katarina – if you’re an Audible listener, simply bookmark my Listener page once you’ve found me)

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