Just as he’s cleaning up the considerable mess after executing Puffalump, né Steve Valentine, the pederast clown who’d killed at least three little boys before meeting his doom, Dexter realizes he’s been seen at work by someone driving a beat-up Honda. Once a series of unfortunate events allows the witness to connect a name to Dexter’s face, he announces his intentions via e-mail. There’s a new serial killer in town, smirks the unknown witness, and he intends to learn everything he can from Dexter and then toss his unwilling teacher aside. Of course, Dexter doesn’t take this threat to his star billing lightly. His attempts to track down the witness go south, though, when he stumbles over a victim butchered in much the way he would have done the job and hears police sirens in the distance. Dexter escapes this crime scene to return to his wife Rita, who’s obsessed with finding the perfect new house for their growing family—her daughter Astor, son Cody and newborn Lily Anne. But Dexter’s latest nemesis, remaining one step ahead of him, commits a copycat murder that reopens a case Dexter’s adoptive sister Deborah had just solved for Miami-Dade. This throws a deep professional shadow over both Debs and Dexter while the newbie plots his next move and Dexter wonders how he can kill his tormentor even though he’s being dogged by his old enemy Sgt. Doakes, and his hands are swollen by poison ivy.
Lindsay, who remains less interested in mystery than in the archly virtuoso first-person narration of his appealingly monstrous Human Impersonator, provides another guilty pleasure. Really, really guilty.