Thursday, 11 October 2012

Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

I take exception to this tag-line;
Dexter barely does any killing
In retrospect, it is a fool’s errand to attempt to review one of a series of books, especially when earlier volumes have been given the old sacred cow slaying once before, thus outlining the particular themes and devices used by the author and the singular characteristics of the recurring character(s). Indeed, Dexter is now a household name, thanks to the popular Showtime series, and as such it is difficult to find a new angle amidst the entropy of my particular system. If one is aware of the main conceit, the only other areas of discussion are plot or style related. Therefore, after a cursory attempt to put across what is new or what continues to be good / bad in this, the sixth volume of the series, I might take the opportunity to digress.


Dexter is still alive and practising his dark arts in the Miami district, all the while maintaining his double existence as a forensic geek at Miami Metro PD. Curiously, in this volume, he doesn't get to do much killing, although it doesn't stop him from thinking about it. Apart from in the opening scene, the catalyst for the resulting plot development of which more later, the killing is performed by a mad chap with a mallet and a grudge, a sinister stalker, brother Brian, and a hammerhead shark. A little disappointing you might think, especially as Astor and Cody have seemingly regressed to being simply children and teenagers with a bit of a hump (suppressing their own dark urges for now). Oh, and Rita gets drunk a bit. So much for plot. On style, Lindsay does get a little maudlin in places, where the future is not so bright for the devilish Dexter and what appears to be depression sets in. Of course, being written in a retrospective, first person narrative style, everything is recounted in a very knowing fashion, with no doubt as to the successful conclusion of the story arc. Lots of the usual dramatic irony, some rather amusing one-liners, and the ubiquitous moral abyss of the main character keep Lindsay right on message, in the groove, and other metaphors for successful stylistic continuity. If you like books one through five, you will most likely like book six.

That digression I warned you about will begin right here. Those informed readers may wish to hit back on the browser about… now. So the digression is this – where do I go from here? Dexter is clearly brain candy, and should probably have gone in an In-Betweeners review – no disrespect to the author or his endeavours – where it could be appreciated quietly without upsetting anyone. There is no natural inter-textual link from here (not that I ever needed one) but I currently lack inspiration, due to the fact that most of my books are now weighing down fifty or sixty cardboard boxes adorning the formerly void spaces of my apartment, waiting to be shipped to my new house, should such a thing ever exist. I risk going off with tangential rage about estate agents and the whole house-buying scam, but I have been severely restricted in the visible choice of next reads. However, thanks to the broadsheets and a surprising second hand purchase via Amazon Marketplace from Waterstones Gower Street (I never knew they were selling books through the competitor’s website), Peter Høeg is back on the list, and I think may well be next. Either that or the new Will Self, a copy of which is winging its way me-wards as we speak, thanks to Jonathan Main and @booksellercrow. I’ll keep you informed.

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