A 1989 National Book Award winner for Paris Trout, Dexter offers another tale of crime and passion. Two journalist brothers are conned into reinvestigating the case of a murderer on Death Row by a gorgeous woman who has fallen in love with the man from afar.
Moat County, Fla., is located where the St. John's River flows north-a geographical rarity and, in literature, a signal that we've entered the strange and violent world of National Book Award-winner Dexter (Paris Trout). Narrator Jack James is the son of the Moat County Tribune's editor and publisher. While Jack's older brother, Ward, reports for the Miami Times, Jack has settled for a job delivering papers for the Tribune. But when Ward and his partner, evil dandy Yardley Acheman, come to Moat County to investigate the four-year-old murder of the local sheriff, Jack assists them in the inquiry. After a vicious beating by two sailors lands Ward in the intensive care unit, Yardley finishes the story without Ward and Jack, fabricating evidence to do so. Accompanying his traumatized brother Ward back to Miami, Jack takes a job as a copyboy at the Times. It isn't long, however, before Yardley's wrongdoing comes to light, generating more trouble for the Jameses. Dexter's writing is rock-solid, he offers acute observations about the nature of reporting and his grip on the Southern male psyche is unquestionable. The powerful thematic drive of Paris Trout is missing here, however, and the story line is so complicated that it loses focus and then almost peters out. But if this isn't Dexter's best, it's still a provocative offering from one of the most exciting novelists around. Major ad/promo. (Jan.)