Thursday, September 27, 2012
Ryan David Jahn
Macmillan UK, 2011
Ian Hunt is a police dispatcher in small town Bulls Mouth, Texas. Most days Ian plays solitaire on his computer, occasionally distracted by calls about lost keys or beating by a drunken husband. Four months ago, he buried his daughter Maggie: the procedure was formal, the girl's body was never found after she was abducted seven years ago out of the bedroom window. After his wife divorced him, Ian lives alone in a small apartment, drunk unconscious by the end of the day to fall asleep faster.
At the end of one shift Ian receives a call from a girl asking for help. Hunt recignizes the voice: it is his missing daughter’s, alive, but someone is chasing her. Now the 14-year-old Maggie did not have time to tell his father who abducted her, the attacker grabs her and takes away.
Who kidnapped Maggie and where she was all those years, we learn in the initial chapters of the novel: a local hospital janitor Henry Dean for seven years held the girl in the basement. And Maggie was not the first one he abducted and kept locked. Now after the phone call Maggie expects help from her father, and Hunt will do everything possible to bring his daughter back.
The main feature of the novel lies in the fact that the name of the abductor is known from the start. David Jahn relies not on ingenious solutions (guess who the villain), but on the psychology of all the participants of the drama. The story is told from points of view of three characters: a chapter from Hunt’s point of view, then Maggie’s, then Henry’s. Jahn puts his cards on the table, but he has a few aces up his sleeve.
If the second Jahn’s novel «Low Life» was claustrophobic thriller narrated by one protagonist, the structure of Jahn’s debut is similar to the third. The debut «Acts of Violence» also switches narrators, but then it turned out too fragmented picture, which is why «Low Life» was stronger work. «The Dispatcher» is more compressed book, and the different points of view make the story fuller. Each participant sees what is happening in his or her own way, and each of them is convincing. Stylistically Jahn is integral, no matter who of the narrators tells a story, you do not have the feeling that all three characters monotonically mumble with the same voice. Jahn captivates emotional pressure, he even sometimes causes us to sympathy for monster Henry.
Store is no sore, and in addition to psychology there will be more decent action, violence, driving on a deserted highway. «The Dispatcher» was published not only in the UK, but also in the U.S., and I’m pleased to see that Jahn finally started to be recognized at home, too. This author is uncompromising and emotional; he deserves an audience wider than he has now.