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Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Jeff Lindsay

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
Cover Concept by Lorenzo Princi, 03 February 2013
I'm a very neat monster.

It's difficult to review this book on it's own merits now as Dexter has become a part of our social culture, like Frankenstein's Monster or Bram Stoker's Dracula, we seldom know of their true origins.

I visited Lindsay's novel only after watching the first season of the Showtime series. Unlike many adaptations, only the first book and season seem to connect, after which, the rest of the book and television series' share a premise but become parallel universes.

In any case, if we imagine another universe, where only this book exists and nothing else 'Dexter' for the purposes of this review, I must say that it is an excellent book which broke new ground in its genre.

Dexter Morgan is a blood spatter analyst for Miami Metro Police with a very neat and tidy life. Close friends and a shy girlfriend. However Dexter has a secret, he is a vigilante serial killer. Trained by his adopted father, who saw that Dexter carried a certain darkness, rather than seeking traditional ways of helping his son, Harry chose to harness Dexter's need to kill teaching him to carry out a form of justice on those who have slipped pass the legal system.

Dexter uses the code laid out by his father to choose the victims that will feed his "dark passenger". Things are going very smoothly for Dexter, who balances his professional and personal careers, both in a type of law enforcement. But a new case has Miami Metro in a spin as the Tamiami Trail killer is terrorising the city and for Dexter, this case seems to be hiding more than usual under the surface.

Lindsay created a very fresh protagonist for his first person narrative. A sinister serial killer who we can relate too despite having nothing in common with, a least not in reality but perhaps in our deepest darkest recesses of thought. Dexter plays the alien and therefore shines like a mirror on us 'humans'. This stranger in a strange land approach is the method in which the book becomes such a thrilling horror story, not solely for its suspenseful plot but also because Dexter's thoughts play games with our sensibilities. We can't help but let Dexter twist the knife on our emotions and forget all reason. Despite his denial, this man is human, and his 'code' is a brilliant loophole which he uses as justification. It keeps him out of jail and shields his conscience from responsibly. His dark passenger is the killer and Dexter is the facade, a simple human vessel from which it acts.

A suspenseful, black comedy twist on the serial killer genre that is utterly enjoyable and thought provoking. If you enjoy the television series, this book is worth a read, if not the whole book series which is a wholly different beast from the show.