Dexter Is Dead
A novel by Jeff Lindsay
Book review by Jules Brenner
Doubleday, released 7/7/15, 304 pp., $24.95
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Successful book series aren't necessarily ended with the definitive death of the main character but one can see why Jeff Lindsay saw it necessary to end his best-selling anti-hero Dexter without a chance of popping him back up -- not unless he's going to reset the tricky killer and genial blood spatter expert for the Miami-Dade PD in the afterlife.

Lindsay's spectacular satiric wit is with us in full force as he so cleverly brings Dex to a false charge of murdering twisted movie star Robert Chase after racking up so many unknown killings of bad guys who looked like they were about to "get away with it." The irony to have him arrested for a murder he didn't commit is pure Lindsay.

But, that's how it's gone for a not-quite-human, soul-less being who's life's work has been to secure justice even when justice isn't listening. And, no one else is, either. Which has become a serious problem for the vigilante. In his dedication to justice he's done much to lose everything he had.

Gone from the sun-splashed life he built and loved is his wife, his kids, his nice little home. His inept, bumbling but well-meaning detective sister Deborah now sees him as a monster and has him suffering over her absence. Worst of all is his arch nemesis, Detective Anderson, who has wished him dead for a while, now. And, not in a painless way. The hatred goes back a long way and this poor excuse for a cop has finally got Dex where he wants him: in the county's maximum security prison.

"Anderson took one quick glance at the crime scenes and formed a simple conclusion... Dexter Done It. Justice is served."

Help, however, is on the way. First is Brian, who has hired the most powerful defense attorney in the county to spring his brother from jail -- none less than Frank Kraunauer! Next is Deborah, who has taken over care of the kids and whose love and protection for them are equal to Dexter's except louder, brasher and leerier. Which is why she thrusts custody papers at him, their father (and step-father).

Lindsay's style is to keep us in the monster's mind, wherein lies one of the more unusual ones -- narcisistic, satirical, self-mocking -- in crime literature. While his dark thought processes are the bedrock of his media success, including his hero's struggle to appear human, Lindsay overdoes it with lengthy interior discourse on things not relevant to the plot. On the other hand, he's a study in self deprecation and pleas for sympathy, especially when developments are so dire.

[POSSIBLE SPOILER:] The end that Lindsay has dreamed up for his valiant vigilante is designed to be conclusive and beyond redemption. It's a painstaking denial of any possibility of a later reemergence ala the ogres of cheap thrill movies. This defender of fair play is down! Done! Gone! It may not satisfy everyone's expectations for this moment. It may not be profound. But, it's terminally vivid.

I'm now looking forward to Lindsay's next novel to see if he sticks with the manically aberrant hero he created and made a fortune with in book sales and TV contracts. Or, will his future character be as compelling, twisted and fun as Dexter Morgan?

If you don't yet own Dexter Is Dead and would like to purchase it (usually at a sizable discount), click here.