Friday, July 03, 2009

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay, Darkly Dreaming Dexter. New York: Vintage Crime Books, 2004. paperback, 288 pps.

I am a big fan of The Sopranos, a Home Box Office Series that ran for six seasons. Very recently, I've been treated to Nurse Jackie on Showtime, another series staring Edie Falco (Carmella Soprano). Showtime is now releasing yet another series called Dexter. The other day, I found the books that the character Dexter is based on.

Like The Sopranos there is killing in Dexter. Like Nurse Jackie, there is a cut off ear. Where The Sopranos tells a somewhat fictionalized account of a New Jersey crime family, Dexter tells the fictional story of a serial killer who works alone. Nurse Jackie is pithy and self-confident. Dexter is socially clumsy but hides it.

Dexter is serial killing with a twist. He operates out of Miami, Florida. He has a day job where he is quiet and unassuming, attempting to blend in with the scenery. Dexter Morgan is a blood splatter analysis by day and his foster sister Deborah Morgan is a cop. Deborah is a frustrated cop stuck in the clothing of a prostitute busting johns in a seedy motel with a real bitch arch-rival. Dexter has an arch-rival too (besides himself) in the form of a cop named Doantes who hates him for a reason he cannot quite finger.

Dexter's late great foster dad Harry Morgan was also a cop. Harry realized that Dexter had the makings of a serial killer when Dexter was young. We are told that Harry taught Dexter to only kill people who deserve killing. Throughout the book, Dexter endeavors to live up to The Code of Harry. The first principle is not to get emotionally involved. Dexter comes close to violating that essential rule in the book but does not cross the line.

This book has all the elements of a thriller, complete with one high-speed chase. Jeff Linday the author has also managed a fair amount of forensic psychology in it, especially in portrayal of a sociopath as one without feelings. The one and only weakness I can point to is the repeating of a phrase several times by Dexter the narrator whenever he chooses not to answer a question that might give him away.

I genuinely like this book, read it in one sitting. I like this book so much that when done with it, I was ready to go out to the bookstore to get the other three. No doubt the other three books will make their way into the home library. Not since Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme mysteries was I so captivated by a crime fiction book.

Highly recommended for readers who watch C.S.I. and who are fascinated by serial killers.

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