Dexter Is Dead by Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay's novels featuring serial killer Dexter Morgan have not only become a bestselling book series, but they have also spawned a critically and commercially successful television series. Despite this success, the novels have continually decreased in quality, culminating in a disappointing cliffhanger in the previous novel Dexter's Final Cut. I was ready to give up on this series, but was too intrigued by the title of this novel to not give it a read. After a two year hiatus, Lindsay returns to bring the saga of Dexter Morgan, the affable psychopath, to a definitive conclusion.

After years of living a double life, Dexter Morgan finds himself in the very place that he has so diligently avoided. By day, Dexter is a forensic scientist for the Miami Police Department. By night, a serial killer. Focusing his "dark passenger" on those who truly deserve death, mostly criminals, Dexter has maintained a low profile. But now all of that has changed. In a darkly ironic twist of events, Dexter's wife and the man who murdered her are both dead, and Dexter is the only suspect. Take growing circumstantial evidence, add a lead detective's personal vendetta, and you've got one damning case against everyone's favorite murderer. As a result, Dexter finds himself locked in a maximum security prison facing an eternity of confinement for a murder he did not commit.

In the previous novel, Dexter went from amiable perpetrator to adulterous prick, making him very difficult to root for. Fortunately, Lindsay corrects this error by stacking the deck completely against him. Beyond the wrongful arrest, the police department is manipulating evidence, falsifying documents, and threatening anyone who dares to question their methods. As diabolical as Dexter's actions are, it is even more deplorable to see the justice system abused in this way. Normally, Dexter's adopted sister Deborah would be the first person to step in and help her only surviving family member, however Dexter's actions in the previous novel have left her unwilling to speak to her brother. With all hope seemingly lost, Dexter finds himself with only one person to turn to. . . his murderous brother Brian.

It is refreshing to see an author bring a bestselling series to a definitive conclusion. Like most popular fiction series, the Dexter saga has had its ups and downs. With this final novel, Lindsay recaptures all of the elements that made Dexter a thoughtful, engaging, and satisfying read. Dexter's witty inner dialogue makes him surprisingly accessible. As much as readers can find small ways to identify with the character, Dexter is still a psychopathic killer who has no empathy. Throughout the series, Dexter was motivated by not revealing his secret and keeping his family safe. But he was never able to truly connect to the "family" he camouflaged himself with. By freeing his protagonist from the bonds of his elaborate facade, Lindsay allows Dexter to finally express his genuine thoughts with unapologetic honesty. In the end, Dexter receives a fitting conclusion that is true to the essence of this darkly intriguing character and satisfying to the fans who have read or watched his story over the last eleven years.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and GoodReads.

(2015, 15)

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