Dexter Is Dead, by Jeff Lindsay
Published: 30 July 2015
Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter Is Dead details the devilishly dramatic demise of everyone’s favourite serial killer, bringing an end to a saga that has pitted the title lab rat and flesh flenser against gangsters, surgeons, artists, movie stars, and even his own brother.
Dexter is a blood spatter expert by day and serial killer by night. He preys only on murderers, adhering to a code handed down by his father who realised early on that there was nothing he could do for his adopted son except apply his lust for murder to the pursuit of justice. And so, for seven novels, Dexter has grappled with human emotions as much as he has dismembered and redistributed the scum of Miami. Bearing his fake grin, supermodel good looks and trusty spatter kit, Dexter has married, adopted children, fathered a child and managed to keep his mask from slipping. And now, it’s all over.
This is a fitting end to the Dexter series, not least because it pulls off the ‘is he, isn’t’ cliffhanger with such limb flailing aplomb. As the novel’s title suggests (and spoils), Dexter is likely dead, caught in an explosion that returns him to that big fat raggedy Moon, the only parent that did not abandon or fail him. It is the full circle that Dexter does, returning to the two days he and his brother spent in their own mother’s blood, that yanks so horribly at the reader’s heartstrings. It took this, his own deadly dance, for Dexter to feel. And, in turn, so does the reader. Dexter is dead. Deal with it.
With Rita departed, and dear Debra finally abandoning her adopted brother, it is left to Brian, the killer who so creatively dismembered and displayed prostitutes in Darkly Dreaming Dexter, to help Dexter out of his latest, non-gaffa taped bind. Blamed for the murder of his wife Rita and two Hollywood actors who were shadowing him and his sister for a TV show, Dexter is locked up with little hope of release, until Brian stumps up the cash for an expensive lawyer and he his freed.
The banter between Brian and Dexter is a delight: they compare fake grins, trade deliciously dark digs and swap euphemisms for murder (“He sends someone to conduct your exit interview—” / ”Nicely put”). It is during their pursuit of Brian’s disgruntled former employer that the brothers and their Dark Passengers, the personifications of their murderous desires, finally get to shine. Lindsay employs the pronoun ‘we’ when Dexter lets the Dark Passenger take the wheel for one of their little playdates, but mere words cannot adequately describe their coming together and the novel’s only foray into Dexter’s nightly naughties cuts off in rapturous mid-sentence.
Dexter Is Dead is one of the those finales that does a series justice, a theme that cuts through the black and white of right and wrong so often in these novels to reveal the deep, dark underbelly of civilisation. And wasn’t it such fun?
Rating: Turned On (A Socket Rocket That Will Blow Your Fuse)