Sunday, 20 October 2013

Dexter’s Final Cut, by Jeff Lindsay
Ah, Dexter.  Dark disciple of drastic solutions to dreadful problems;   lover of alliteration;   pseudo-pillar of society, proud possessor of wife and ready-made family and respected blood-spatter expert for the Miami Dade Police Department:  could the latest book in this excellent series (see November 2012 review below)  be Dexter’s final, fatal foray into murder and mayhem?
OK, I’ll stop right there with my attempts at alliteration – they’re not a patch on Mr Lindsay’s, but I do hope that this won’t be the final Dexter adventure.  If a cold-blooded, relentlessly efficient and remorseless killer can endear himself to millions of readers, then anti-hero Dexter is a riotous success, a total knock-out - because he’s funny.  And brilliant.  And up until now, entirely unable to feel any emotional response to anyone he knows, including his family.
When this story begins Dexter is just boogying along in the same old groove, going to work, going home to the family, and sometimes departing from the norm with late night trips to find a ‘playmate’, someone who has committed a terrible crime for which he cannot be punished by the law – until Dexter decides that it is time for the miscreant to sin no more.
Life is uneventful, until a new TV crime series starts filming in Miami, and Dexter and his grumpy sister Detective sergeant Deborah Morgan are seconded as technical advisers to the production, Deborah being the ‘inspiration’ for TV star Jackie Forrest’s character, and Dexter’s expertise in forensics as a guide for Robert Chase, former megastar who is nearing his use-by date.  Needless to say, the novelty of explaining his work to his handsome but dim pupil palls very quickly for Dexter;  besides, Robert (call me Robert, not Bob) doesn’t seem to have the stomach for the latest grisly murder, that of a young woman found savaged, raped and carved up in a dumpster.  Robert’s definitely a workplace hindrance but one that Dexter has to cart around like a large colicky baby – then another young woman is found, defiled in the same heinous way and disposed of in another dumpster, and when the third blonde corpse is discovered it becomes obvious that the beautiful Jackie Forrest has a stalker, one who is killing women who resemble her, and he states that she will be next.
Dexter, much against his wishes is nominated to be her bodyguard for the duration of the shoot;  wife Rita and children are told by Deborah that he is away on highly secret business and Dexter moves into Jackie Forrest’s luxury hotel suite.  Here the reader could be forgiven for expecting the action to proceed in an orderly predictable fashion, with Dexter, happy murderous beast that he is, finding and despatching the stalker in his usual efficient and clandestine way before Ms Forrest is attacked – or at a pinch, even after a nail-biting confrontation occurs – from which she is rescued, of course. 
Sadly, no.
Mr Lindsay shocks us all with the direction of the plot, for the unthinkable happens more than once:  Dexter discovers that his raisin of a heart is not completely dry – he starts to experience feelings.  And because these alien emotions confound him he is not his usual sharp, analytical self.  He makes several crucial mistakes, errors which have the reader screeching ‘For God’s sake, Dexter – pull yourself together.  Man up!’  But he doesn’t.  When the story ends he is fathoms deep in the darkest ordure ever, with no obvious way up, facing punishment for crimes that he didn’t commit.  Is Dexter doomed?  Will he survive to kill another day?
I can’t imagine that Mr Lindsay would pay any heed to the writer of a Library blog in far-off Hobbitland and her pleas for Dexter adventure # 8,  but what about all the other millions of Dexter fans out there?  It will be all Mr Lindsay’s fault if they get in a sulk, for he has created an unforgettable character in Dexter and his Dark Passenger, so much so that his literary demise is unimaginable.  I have no realistic idea how Mr Lindsay can resurrect Dexter from his impossible predicament, but I have faith.  I hope he doesn’t leave him in the shite for too long, though;  Dexter’s fastidiousness is legendary and the suspense will kill me!  Highly recommended.

The Dexter Novels, by Jeff Lindsay

For those who haven’t yet met Dexter, you’re in for a rare treat:  Dexter had a chaotic, dreadful childhood, so horrific that it engendered within him feelings of homicidal anger that could never be sublimated into any kind of force for good.  Fortunately for him, he was adopted into a good family and his foster-father was a policeman, tired, burnt-out by his job, and disgusted that so many of the really bad guys didn’t get the punishment that they deserved.  Harry the policeman recognises Dexter’s proclivities when he discovers Dexter’s secret cemetery of missing neighbourhood pets;  he also knows that Dexter won’t ever lose the killing urge, so decides to train him to use those urges only to dispatch the killers that society would do better without. 
‘Let’s get you squared-away, Dexter’, he says, and with the benefit of his excellent police training Harry turns Dexter into the ultimate killing machine for good – and how never, ever to get caught.
Oh, these books are SO enjoyable, especially as Dexter is such a complex character:  he freely acknowledges he is a monster;  he can’t feel emotion; (which comes in handy when he removes his victims – their pleading is useless);  he is handsome, witty and clever;  (he happily admits to this) he loves alliteration;  (dashing Dexter, daring Dexter, deadly Dexter, Devil-may-care Dexter etc.) and he has the perfect disguise for all his serial-killing:  he is a blood-spatter expert for the Miami Police Department.  Life is good!
Jeff Lindsay peoples his series with excellent minor characters;  Dexter’s Bull-at-a-Gate sister Deborah, a bona fide police detective who, unsurprisingly, has problems accepting what Dexter is, and Rita, Dexter’s girlfriend – who mystifies him with her devotion, her ability to speak sentences faster than he can process, and her two children, mysteriously silent little creatures who appear to communicate with each other telepathically but depend utterly  on our hero to stay with their mother and not desert them.  Dutiful Dexter.
And then there’s Sergeant Doakes:  it takes one to know one, as they say.  He’s on Dexter’s case, recognises the Beast Within because he has one of his own, and informs Dexter – often – that ‘Ah’m gonna get you, motherf*cker’.  Fair enough.  Sergeant Doakes gives Dexter a lot to think about.  Dithering Dexter.
Ah, this is a great series:  Mr. Lindsay has given us a unique new character in thriller fiction, and I wouldn’t miss a single one of his adventures.  Daring, dauntless, dreadful:    Dexter is DELICIOUS.

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