Book Review: Dexter Is Dead, by Jeff Lindsay

Dexter Is DeadOut With a Whimper

Disappointment, thy name is Jeff Lindsay. It was abundantly clear long ago that Lindsay had fallen into a rut with his Dexter series, that the magic had gone away and he was just going through the motions. I mean honestly, it reached the point where virtually every book had the same ludicrous ending: Dexter’s stepkids are kidnapped by the bad guy. To call it stultifying would be a colossal understatement.

Then along came Dexter’s Final Cut, and it appeared Lindsay may have been attempting to invigorate his flagging franchise. You see, at the close of that installment, Dexter’s not-so-beloved wife, Rita, was killed. The possibilities, they were endless. How would Dexter handle single fatherhood without dearly devoted Rita? How would he get by in the world without the woman who provided his primary cover as a normal family man? For the first time in a long while, I found myself actually looking forward to seeing where Lindsay was going with the story.

You can imagine, then, that news that the next installment was to be Dexter’s grand finale came as as bit of a surprise. Why invigorate a franchise just to retire it? It didn’t really make sense. Still, one couldn’t deny that Lindsay hadn’t seemed interested in the series in a long time, so maybe this was an opportunity for him to end the series on a high point. That possibility was juicy enough for me to get excited. What was even more exciting? That the premise of Dexter is Dead finds Dexter in jail for Rita’s death and several of the other murders that happened at the end of Dexter’s Final Cut. We were going to get to see Dexter literally wrestling with the difficulty of Rita’s death and staring down the possibility of indirectly answering for the wealth of sins he’s committed across the years.

That would have potentially been a great book. If only Jeff Lindsay had possessed even the slightest interest in writing it. Instead, the whole jail storyline becomes a subplot with alarming speed. Instead of focusing, Lindsay forces Dexter to juggle his murder investigation with an utterly ludicrous subplot involving a drug lord who is displeased with Dexter’s brother, Brian. Brian agrees to bankroll Dexter’s legal needs if Dexter will help him fight off the drug lord’s goons, track down the drug lord, and kill him. Have I mentioned that none of this drug business makes the least amount of sense? And guess–just guess–which plotline Lindsay is more excited about? Just as you start wishing Lindsay would just choose one storyline and stick with it, he does. And he chooses the wrong one. He chooses the nonsensical supervillain storyline he’s already written a hundred times.

You’ll never guess what happens next. THE KIDS GET KIDNAPPED. I wanted to throw the book across the room in anger and frustration. The fact that I didn’t just goes to show how little I had invested in this world anymore. And honestly, if this weren’t the final Dexter book I might have just quietly put the book down and gone about my life, never looking back or thinking about picking up another one of Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter books ever again anyway.

Was it worth staying for the last page? Not particularly. I get no joy in saying that I stuck it out to the end. There’s no payoff or reward for loyalty to be found in this series. You know, I don’t ask for a happy ending or a lot of theatrics. It’s just sad when an author clearly doesn’t care anymore, hasn’t been putting in the effort for a long time, and then doesn’t even give you the dignity of a half-assed finale. You’d think Lindsay could have at least faked some enthusiasm for one measly book to do a proper goodbye, instead of falling on all the tired cliches he’d already worn out several books earlier. Even Dexter’s goodbye is a tedious paint-by-numbers.

Grade: F

For more Dexter, check out my Series Rundowns homepage.


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