I am one of the few people among my circle of friends and acquaintances who does not watch the “Dexter” television series. I have been told that it follows a somewhat different time and storyline than the books do, so I avoid any confusion. However, they do intersect, at least somewhat, in DEXTER’S FINAL CUT, a dark tongue-in-cheek nod to the series that preserves the continuity of both.
The book’s initial premise finds Dexter Morgan, a forensic blood-spatter expert for the Miami-Dade police and serial killer’s serial killer, and his sister, Deborah, who is a homicide detective for the same agency, in very unaccustomed roles. Dexter and Deborah are assigned to be technical advisers for the pilot of a proposed police procedural television series that is being filmed in Miami. “Technical adviser” in this case involves part teaching and part babysitting, tasks that do not sit well with either. Dexter’s charge is an actor named Robert (“not ‘Bob’”) Chase, who is a bit full of himself, with enough left over for three people. Ironically enough, Robert confesses to Dexter early on that he cannot stand the sight of blood.
"Lindsay’s interesting and unique style is in full play and serves him well yet again. He is no particular hurry to unroll the story, preferring to make revelations at his own pace in Dexter’s dark and, yes, weird voice."
Meanwhile, Deborah is being shadowed by Jackie Forrest, a delightful bit of eye candy who at first blush is the polar opposite of Deborah. Both pairings appear to be mismatches made in heaven. Jackie, however, quickly demonstrates that she is very much the professional, up for the part and willing to do and witness whatever she must in order to get her role down properly. Interestingly enough, Dexter feels some stirrings for Jackie, and not dark ones either, though they are certainly inappropriate, given that he is married to Rita and is in the tedious process of moving into a new home, an event that would keep him more than busy even if he didn’t have a job.
As for Robert, he demonstrates repeatedly that he probably needs a stand-in on a permanent basis, particularly when a new serial murderer manifests his presence on Miami streets by leaving the body of a young woman unspeakably mutilated in an alley dumpster. There is more to Robert than one might expect as well. Dexter, dividing his time by being shadowed by Robert, keeping Rita happy, dealing with his feelings(?) for Jackie, and, most interestingly, going after the new killer in town as he follows the instincts of his Dark Passenger (who is behaving oddly at times) --- barely has time to sleep. By the end of the book, it appears that he will have more than enough time and opportunity for that.
DEXTER’S FINAL CUT is a subtle send-up of the film industry, though the tale is certainly more than a long and possibly insincere wet kiss to the manner in which movies are conceived and executed. Lindsay’s interesting and unique style is in full play and serves him well yet again. He is no particular hurry to unroll the story, preferring to make revelations at his own pace in Dexter’s dark and, yes, weird voice. That is not to say that the book is slow or boring. If you’re driving down a mountain road at a slow speed and your brakes give out, it isn’t boring, is it? You actually have more time to think about things as you head toward your all-but-certain end. So here too, as well.
As for the conclusion, given the title as well as the television series coming to a close, it might seem that Lindsay is wrapping up the literary series. Perhaps. Or not. Read and decide for yourself.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 20, 2013