Murder by Other Means (Dispatcher 2) by John Scalzi (performed by Zachary Quinto)

From Hugo and Audie Award-winning author John Scalzi comes an exciting sequel to the New York Times best-selling, number one Audible hit The Dispatcher, performed by the incomparable Zachary Quinto.

Welcome to the new world, in which murder is all but a thing of the past. Because when someone kills you, 999 times out of 1,000, you instantly come back to life. In this world, there are dispatchers – licensed killers who step in when you’re at risk of a natural or unintentional death. They kill you – so you can live.

Tony Valdez is used to working his job as a dispatcher within the rules of the law and the state. But times are tough, and more and more Tony finds himself riding the line between what’s legal and what will pay his bills. After one of these shady gigs and after being a witness to a crime gone horribly wrong, Tony discovers that people around him are dying, for reasons that make no sense…and which just may implicate him.

Tony is running out of time: to solve the mystery of these deaths, to keep others from dying, and to keep himself from being a victim of what looks like murder, by other means.

Murder by Other Means is the new sequel to John Scalzi’s The Dispatcher (review). It picks up a couple years after those events, and though it is helpful to read/listen to that novella, I don’t think its hugely necessary. I would recommend reading the novella’s in order, purely for a bit more background information.

Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher, someone who’s job is to help those who are about to die accidentally (for example during surgery) and make sure that is is “murder”. His job exists due to the fact that if someone kills you, there’s a huge chance that you will turn up back at home, naked but alive.

The licensed jobs are getting harder to come by, leading Tony to start looking for shadier gigs. When Tony is a witness to a robbery gone wrong, he is suddenly surrounded by the implication that one of those shady gigs is coming back to haunt him. People surrounding him start turning up dead, somehow staying that way despite the general norm that you can’t be killed without coming back alive.

I greatly enjoyed listening to Zachary Quinto bring Tony to life. The novella is fast paced, but gives enough depth to bring satisfaction to a story well told. As with John Scalzi’s first novella, I wish that this was turned into a full sized novel in order to explore some more of the strange circumstances that lead to the Dispatcher profession.

I can’t wait to see if there is more to come in this series.

John Scalzi writes books, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. He’s best known for writing science fiction, including the New York Times bestseller “Redshirts,” which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. He also writes non-fiction, on subjects ranging from personal finance to astronomy to film, was the Creative Consultant for the Stargate: Universe television series. He enjoys pie, as should all right thinking people. You can get to his blog by typing the word “Whatever” into Google. No, seriously, try it.