The Dispatcher is a tightly constructed urban fantasy mystery novella, set in a world with only one difference to our own. When someone dies, their body disappears, and they re-materialize back at their house alive and well. Most of the time. This sets up a fantastically unique murder mystery, with a character and setting that I really hope he returns to. Some elements of this reminded me a little of Altered Carbon. This could be a long running series, and I would definitely read it all.
Usually I’m not into urban fantasy at all, but this one is quite different. Most people hear Urban Fantasy and think “Oh, that’s like werewolves and vampires and magic and stuff right?” which is an easy assumption to make since so much of it is. It’s important to remember that this isn’t necessarily true though, and it most definitely isn’t the case with The Dispatcher. “Urban Fantasy” means only two things: 1. The story is set in a contemporary time 2. The impossible happens. That’s all. Everything else is just how the writer wants to use those restrictions to tell a good story. Something which Scalzi has done a terrific job of here.
I listened to the audiobook version of this last year when it was free on Audible, and more recently read the physical book published by Subterranean press. In addition to the story, there are several illustrations of important scenes, and the quality of the artwork is gorgeous. There is a sort of hyper-realism to the illustrations that’s difficult to describe, but it works very well.
The Dispatcher is available from Subterranean Press as both a clothbound hardcover and a signed leatherbound hardcover.