Dexter’s Final Cut, by Jeff Lindsay
Hold on to your blood spatters, folks! Dexter Morgan — forensic specialist by day, serial killer by night — is about to become a TV star!
Well, sort of. It goes without saying that Dexter already is an actor; indeed, our favorite serial killer has been successfully masquerading as a human for his entire adult life. He learned very early on that no one could know that his body was home to a Dark Passenger, and so he has been guarded and careful about what he says and does, and living for those bright and bloody moments when he can release his true self upon the truly deserving.
But now, thanks to his Department’s overeager desire to help out the Big Ticket Network, his role is going to be replicated on a cop show they’re currently filming. Which means that he now gets to be shadowed on the job by a real actor, so that the man can see what a forensic technician does on the job.
And that might not be so bad — maybe even a little flattering to the average person. But Dexter is not the average person, and really does not need to have some washed-up, has-been, boorish actor a half-step behind him, aping his mannerisms and little tics. He does not need to be forced into socializing with him, or enduring his small talk about Dexter’s wife and children, or putting up with his ongoing feud with his co-star, who’s currently in the process of shadowing Dexter’s sister, Deborah.
Of course, things get interesting when a case requiring his unique skills appears: a horribly-mutilated woman is found in a dumpster, complete with a signature wound that could indicate a serial killer. Things get even more interesting when it turns out that other, similar killings have been found wherever the actress about to become Deborah has worked. And they get a lot more interesting when Dexter takes it upon himself to guard that actress at night, at her hotel, and things begin to happen between them that he wasn’t exactly expecting…
Before long, Dexter gets hopelessly entangled in the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and he and Deborah have to guard several new secrets between them. But as things become more complicated, and it becomes clear to Dexter that what’s in front of the camera isn’t the only fiction at play, his dark certainty gives way to honest confusion.
Can Dexter solve this case in his own unique and bloody manner without the actor trying to become him realizing what’s going on? Or is this going to truly be his final cut?
One of the great things about the books in this series is that Dexter’s inhumanity works both ways. He can see and sense things that we cannot, given the nasty, black thing he’s got riding around inside of him. But at the same time we, as the audience, can see things coming that he remains blissfully unaware of until it’s too late.
Lindsay knows how to work this both to comedic and horrific effect in Final Cut, as the little mistakes that Dexter makes come back to haunt him with a vengeance. All we can do is groan and wonder why he didn’t see this coming, only to remember that he really couldn’t, which makes the book’s genuinely shocking ending all the more tragic.
(It also seems to be something of a response to “Dexter,” on Showtime, which is now in its final season. One gets the sense that the author spent some time on the set, dealing with the surreal nature of life behind the camera, and wrote some of the scenes, characters, and situations with that in mind.)
A darkly comedic hunt for the truth amongst battered corpses and film cameras, Dexter’s Final Cut is a worthy addition to an already-excellent series, and is certain to make long-time fans jump and clamor for the next installment as soon as possible.
Dexter’s Final Cut drops September 17th, and will be available at all Schuler Books and Music locations.
- Jim Tremlett, Eastwood