Book review: Dexter is Dead by Jeff Lindsay

Dexter Is Dead (Dexter, #8)Dexter Is Dead by Jeff Lindsay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If Dexter is Dead, does that mean alliteration dies with him?

The final instalment of delightfully dismembering Dexter sees the titular protagonist in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, which really means the cops aren’t trying very hard. His friends and colleagues – the ones that are still alive at least – have abandoned him, his sister Deb thinks he is getting a dose of karma, and Detective Andrews is doing his best to frame him. Good thing he has a brother. And Brian never causes problems in Dexter’s life.

As a huge fan of the Dexter novels – the TV series: meh – I have been looking forward to reading the final Dexter adventure for some time. I’d like to say the anticipation set me up for disappointment, but I’m pretty sure it was the series running out of steam. That isn’t to say that Dexter is Dead isn’t an entertaining read, more than it doesn’t hit the normal highs I’ve enjoyed from the earlier novels in the series. Which means that finishing the adventures of Dexter now (or a book or two ago) was probably a good idea. Dexter’s luck finally running out, hammering home some of the central points that many have missed previously (yes, Dexter isn’t smart), and finally (spoiler alert…. from the title) killing Dexter, was important for the series.

I’d say this book is mainly for fans of the series who want closure. It is just a pity the end wasn’t a highpoint.

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Book Review: Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Double DexterDouble Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dexter, how I love thee.

It hard to find some reading time these past two weeks. When I did find the time, what better way to spend it than reading a Jeff Lindsay novel.

If there are authors I would like to emulate, Jeff Lindsay and Robert Crais – with their wit, humour and thrilling plots – would be at the top of my list. This outing sees even more of the witty insights into Dexter’s world, my favourite being the final exclamation by Astor, Dexter’s step daughter.

I can’t give this book five stars, because it isn’t as strong as the others in the series. Crunch time hits in the plot about page 200 and is the taut and witty Dexter we know and love. I don’t normally say this about books I read – as I object to it myself – but sticking with this Dexter outing is well worth it.

Also worth mentioning is that Jeff signed my copy of Double Dexter. I asked him about the difference between how Dexter sees himself as “big brained Dexter” and yet exhibits traits that counter this statement. Jeff had some very interesting insights into the psychopath mind that he shared with me on this topic, summarised as “They are never as smart as they think they are.”

Read and enjoy.

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Book review: Dexter is Delicious – Jeff Lindsay

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Do I really need to review this book? Or did I just want to say that I got Jeff to sign my copy of the book at the Perth Writers Festival? Or is it that adding Jeff Lindsay to my tags will raise my search profile? Who can really tell.

The reality is that all I need to say about this book is that is was very good and is a worthy edition to the Dexter series. Jeff continues to be one of my favourite authors, it may be time he became one of yours too (if he isn’t already). Also if the reading that Jeff delivered from his next book at the Perth Writers Festival – tentatively titled Double Dexter – is any indication of what Dexter fans can look forward to in September this year, then the series will continue strongly.

Now it would appear that I never have anything negative to say about the books that I read. I must love everything I read. I bloody wish!

The reality is that I have a very strict set of rules that I abide by in order to read a book.

  1. The book must be interesting enough for me to pick it up and start reading it.
  2. The book must maintain my interest enough to continue reading it.

Thus many books never make the grade to get to the review stage. It would be pretty strange to offer up a review of a book that I’ve never really read. It really isn’t the author’s fault that their books sucked so much that I never finished them. They can’t help if they spent so much time with mindless exposition that I’ve stuck my thumb in a meat slicer to prevent myself falling asleep. The author isn’t really responsible for spending so much time talking about the protagonist’s relationship with their cat and other meaningless crap. Thus when I fail to get more than 10-50 pages into a novel it is clearly my fault and denies me the right to reviewing the offending book. Which brings me to expanding my second rule:

  1. The book has ten pages to impress upon me the need to read further or else the book is mulching my fruit trees.
  2. The book then has until page 50 to convince me that the book isn’t mulch material with a passable first 10 pages.
  3. A third of the way through I’d better have been convinced to finish the book.

You see there is nothing worse than “sticking with a book” through sheer bloodymindedness. If the reward for ~400 pages of boredom is finishing the book and feeling that little tingle of accomplishment then really we could all do better. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t have time to waste on finishing mediocre books (yes Stieg Larsson, I am talking about your incorporeal ass).

Perth Writers Festival

Since I am now set upon an oft trod path, I felt a sudden urge to mingle with my fellow book aficionados. But how do you mingle with your peers when you live 3 hours away from the most remote city in the world? The interwebz seems like a nice starting place, but at some stage we all have to upgrade to real 3D people, if only to remind us not to be so snarky to one-another on forums.

Low and behold the Perth Writers Festival has come and gone for another year, and this year they had Crime Fiction included, and I was in attendance. I know, how likely is that?!

So what did I see? Well a lot of people just like me. Readers, writers, people with a general disdain for the lack of proper grammar usage on TV, you know, people who can read. In amongst this grouping of people who could read I found myself in a small subset of the literate, a subset that had been born after 1960 (to win a free e-book, email me a tell me if this was hyperbole).

Despite my general disdain for the (self-supposed) authority figures at UWA, it did prove to be a good venue for the masses of literates to converge and discuss their favourite topic; those damn kids these days. Their second favourite topic was the reason I was in attendance; writing.

I have to praise the two presenters who held Crime writing workshops at the Perth Writers Festival, Leah Giarratano and David Whish-Wilson. Leah is a rather smart, friendly, charming, and quite tall psychologist. She also happens to write some very dark crime fiction that are well worth reading. Plus she brought chocolates! Since she has dealt with some unsavory people and their victims she was well versed in creating characters with depth. Ever felt like a novel has a bad guy that is just there to be a bad guy? Well Leah had the solution to that, the scary part was that the real bad guys are far worse than the average horror writer’s imagination. Oh and she also signed my copy of her latest book with a heart – she was really nice.

Smart, tall, brunette, writer = Leah

David is a writing lecturer at Curtin university, as well as being a published author himself. Too often the two don’t go hand in hand, or the publishing means they bought 200 copies to give to friends and family. Not David. I think the thing that David brought to the class was the skills of writing and some handy techniques to break out of ruts and not be too cliche with writing. David was also willing to offer his help with people’s manuscripts – cool guy.

David striking his cool writers pose.

Now one thing seemed to be consistent in the writers workshops, that you had to be female and over the age of 45. In fact in David’s workshop I was one of two guys and the only one not alive in the 60’s. While this may have hampered my ability to appreciate Jefferson Airplane I wonder how it will relate to my comparative writing style. I guess at least I didn’t feel compelled to make up my first memory and turn it into some fanciful emotional moment when asked to share our first memories with the class.

What writers festival would be complete without a really big name writer? At this event the organisers turned to none other than Jeffry P. Freundlich.

Dexter, Jeff and Debs

Jeff is of course the fabulous author of the Dexter series of books. To all of the would-be writers out there, do not despair, Jeff also had a hard time selling his writing gold. After years of work Jeff finally came upon the idea of Dexter after meeting some wonderful people (yes that is sarcasm) at a luncheon and was suddenly convinced that serial murder wasn’t such a bad thing. It still took him four-and-a-half years and six agents to actually get someone interested in publishing Darkly Dreaming Dexter. He was really interesting to listen to and I managed to have a short chat with him when I corned him to sign my copy of his latest book. Very funny, very interesting and seems like a really nice guy – how the hell did he end up writing about a psychopath?

All in all I enjoyed my time at the festival. I’d also love to here from any other people who made it to Perth for the event, or for that matter any similar thoughts on the writers festivals you have attended. The big question I have is: does genre usually get any mention at writers festivals or was this an exception?