This story takes place in a world where insurance companies employ dispatchers to help prevent the costly premature death that failed surgery often presents. They’re present during surgery and if the patient is on the edge of death they are there to zap them with a lethal dosage of premature death. They the person usually awakens naked and good as new in their home rather than dead and buried and saddling their families with grief and lots of expenses.
See in this world if you die naturally you’re gone for good but if it’s accidental or due to murder you typically come back. Why? Who knows. No one knows! You just have to go with it. You’ll drive yourself crazy waiting for answers if you’re a questioning type like me.
Of course with this type of scenario certain reckless morons do stupid reckless things like cutting off each other’s arms for fun or joining a fight to the almost death club. Thus the shadier dispatchers step up to earn a little side cash to fix the mess and keep it quiet. Who can blame a guy for wanting to make a few extra bucks? But this type of work comes back to haunt our main character when a former colleague goes missing.
A mystery ensues and this is where my tired brain started to shut off and daydream about chocolate cupcakes and my next book. Needless to say, it wasn’t able to fully engage me after the enthralling beginning but that may be my fault. I went into this one blind and vaguely remembering that I read somewhere online that Scalzi was a funny writer. Or maybe I've mixed him up with someone else? I didn’t find this one funny but it may be an anomaly or I may have no sense of humor. Either way, it just okay in the end.
If you have the chance and inclination, check out the audio version narrated by Zachary Quinto. He does a fine, fine job with the material.