Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Dispatcher, by Ryan David Jahn

I need to start keeping track of where I'm getting book recommendations from. Most of the YA recommendations come from the child_lit list (I've talked about the child_lit list a little bit elsewhere--here's subscribing info again)--but this one clearly wasn't from child_lit, being a novel written for adults, and I don't know where I got the recommendation. It must have been on some Top of 2011 list. So I put it on hold at the library, and by the time I picked it up, I had no idea why I'd put it on hold.

It's not the kind of book I usually read, at all. Described on the back as "a gripping, white-knuckle thriller," it's definitely a creepy book. But it's also so good, a book I just wanted to read and read until I finished it! Well-written, well-paced, totally engaging. It's the story of a man whose daughter is kidnapped at the age of seven, out of her bedroom while her parents are out at dinner and she's upstairs asleep with her fourteen-year-old brother watching TV downstairs. For years, there are no clues as to where she went, and eventually the marriage dissolves, at least in part because the mom needs closure--there is a funeral with an empty coffin--and the dad needs to not give up hope.*

Dad happens to be a police dispatcher in the small town they live in, and he's on duty when his now fourteen-year-old daughter calls 911 because she's escaped out of the basement to a pay phone on Main Street. The guy who took her catches up with her and takes her away before the police can get to her, but suddenly Ian (the dad) has talked to her, he knows she's alive and in their town.

So the case is reopened, and the dad understandable is very involved in getting his daughter back. I'd say the book is mostly from his point of view (third person, but focused in) but a significant part of it is from the daughter's POV, and Jahn does that well too.

Definitely worth reading. Creepy, and good.

*Nerd grammar note: In this case, I don't think of that as a split infinitive, but rather the infinitive form of the verb that is "not giving up hope." I don't care if you can't put the "not" into the verb itself--sometimes it belongs there!

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