Tuesday, May 27

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

Dexter Morgan's a blood spatter analyst in Miami. Since his foster parents, a homemaker mother and a cop father, have died, his only family is their daughter Deb, a vice cop. Dexter has a normal enough life - a nice but unremarkable apartment, a girlfriend who has two kids, and he enjoys his work. What sets Dexter apart from most people is his lack of emotion. Well, that and his Need, the Dark Passenger who spurs him on to kill.
A sociopath, Dexter was redeemed by his perceptive foster father, who taught him to channel his desires into a socially beneficially direction - he can kill people, but only those who deserve to die. And so Dexter tracks down and kills serial killers, then meticulously covers his tracks. So when Deb brings his attention to the work of a new killer - three prostitutes, drained of blood, dismembered, and meticulously wrapped, it would seems as though he has another candidate to track down. Only that's Dexter's methodology, with a beautifully bewitching refinement, and Dexter's started having dreams about the killings. Are they dreams? Or has Dexter's subconscious started to take over?
The first is what is, so far, three books, Darkly Dreaming Dexter has sired a TV series, which I have on DVD but haven't yet watched. This is wholly unsurprising - Dexter's a fascinating new addiction to a genre saturated with serial killers and pathologists. Not only is he the first to combine the two, in Dexter Lindsay has created a truly unique and absorbing character. Autistic-like in his attempts to decode human behaviour, a predator with principles, an intelligent and self-aware monster who helps improve society while violating it's mores, Dexter is layered and surprising, even to himself.
The writing is so deft, the character so compelling, and the plotting so germane that I was even happy with Lindsay committing two of my least favourite crimes in this genre - involving the protagonist personally in the investigation, and a cliff hanger ending. I want to see what happens next! - Alex

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