Written by Jeff Lindsay — Dexter Morgan is in a Miami prison, in the section reserved for the worst of criminals. He’s being held for the murder of three people, his wife, his lover and a man by the identity of Robert Chase. Worse still the police are claiming Dexter is a paedophile. But this time Dexter is innocent. Chase is the killer and he’s the paedophile who had designs on Dexter’s children.
Dexter was arrested by Detective Anderson, a cop who hates him with a passion. As a result he’s been in prison for an age, the system seemingly arrayed against him. No-one seems willing to spring Dexter, not even his sister, Deborah. She knows Dexter and his desires and has sided with him before, but now even she has had enough. Deborah arrives at prison with papers for Deter to allow her to legally adopt his children. She has disowned him, and Dexter is alone.
Weeks go by until Frank Kraunauer turns up at the prison. He’s the best and therefore most expensive legal eagle in Miami, and even the police are scared of him. He gets Dexter out on bail immediately. It transpires that Dexter’s equally depraved brother, Brian, has put up the bail money. Dexter is surprised, Brian isn’t wealthy, so where did the money come from?
Dexter goes to ground in a hotel, he checks in but heads out immediately to see Deborah and hand over the papers. On his return he finds two bodies. One on the bed, the other in the wardrobe. It looks like one was awaiting his return, someone else entered and a fight ensued. Someone is still after Dexter.
Brian reveals he stole money from a drug baron, Raul, whom he was working for. The dead are Raul’s men. With Anderson still hot for Dexter’s head and the clock ticking before he’s back in prison he needs answers. When Deborah gets in touch and says the children have been taken Dexter knows who has them and what to do about it. But will it be the end for Dexter?
This is the eighth, and final, installment in Lindsay’s hugely popular Dexter series, the serial killer everyone roots for. It featured in our list of the best serial killer series – one of the most popular articles on our site, and there’s even a Dexter wiki. By day Dexter is a blood spatter pattern analyst with the Miami Dade police force, by night he hunts the killers that have slipped through the net.
Many will lament his passing, myself included. The hugely successful books spawned a successful television series which ran for eight seasons, garnering a following of its own and 23 Emmy nominations. It depicted Dexter at his dark and gory best, yet allowed the characters to develop and grow.
In Dexter is Dead our favourite serial killer isn’t his usual, incisive self throughout. He makes mistakes, gets a bit confused and has conflicting feelings, particularly after Deborah disowns him. For a murderer who operates without qualms this is a surprise to him, it will probably surprise you as well. He tends to stumble through the plot, bumping into one issue, resolving it, then moving onto the next, only Brian at his side. He seems lost and trying to find his place. For a man who was so certain of his goals in life it’s disturbing. There’s no real plan here, beyond the next objective, until the end when he faces up to Raul and knows what to do… sort of.
The opening paragraph says, “It wasn’t supposed to end this way.” That’s the thread within the novel, Lindsay setting up Dexter for the conclusion. It’s clear to see why and what he’s done on the final page, but it does drag the story down a bit and dulls Dexter’s incisiveness. The finale will more than likely please some people but I was somewhat disappointed. As ever a good plot, but a sad ending…
CFL Rating: 3 Stars