Gimme Some of that Good Stuff
After finishing my re-read of A Game of Thrones, I thought a change of pace was in order. My short, sharp chaser was Ryan David Jahn's latest, The Dispatcher. Fans of Jahn's earlier novels will recognise the terse, muscular prose, the unsentimental depiction of both violence and everyday life, and the lack of moral certainty pervading his world. The ending of Jahn's debut Acts of Violence was deliberately telegraphed in its beginning, while Low Life's accurate blurb description "gripping existential thriller" necessarily limited its core audience; The Dispatcher, by contrast, follows a much more commercial thriller structure.
The protagonist, Ian Hunt, is a washed-up cop whose daughter Maggie was abducted and presumed murdered seven years before. It's not too much of a spoiler to note that this turns out not to have been the case. The plot unfolds with a grim chase across an unforgiving Texan landscape, and Hunt will stop literally at nothing in his attempts to be reunited with Maggie. Maggie's abductor has almost no redeeming features, but there is grotesquely warped nobility in his original motivations.
The Dispatcher is a grim, bleak novel shot through with moments of pathos and echoes of normal life. It's certainly Jahn's most commercial novel and I think it's also his best. I look forward to the next one.