Monday, June 2

Dexter in the Dark - Jeff Lindsay

Blood spatter analyst Dexter Morgan is used to his life the way it is - incapable of experiencing emotion, he goes to great efforts to pass for human, and he has a strict moral code. Okay, he didn't mean to get engaged to single mother of two Rita, but it seems to be working out, especially if he has a few drinks first. But when Dexter's called out to a murder site and discovers the ritualistically-slaughtered, headless bodies of two young college students, something unexpected happens - his Dark Passenger flees. Dexter faces the horrifying possibility of... being normal.
The third in a series, the writing of Dexter in the Dark is a marked departure from its predecessors. Instead of being solely narrated by Dexter, section of Dexter in the Dark are from the point of view of IT, a supernatural evil that predates the dawn of life on earth, and others are told by the Watcher, a cult member observing Dexter.
What really sets this installment apart, though, is the somewhat disappointing effect that explaining Dexter's Dark Passenger has. No longer the result (or perhaps not solely the result) of his childhood trauma, the Passenger is now an entity from outside Dexter. While this raises some potentially intriguing questions (like who is Dexter on his own?), this really isn't that kind of novel. There was excellent potential for a better novel here - the changes in Deborah's relationship with her boyfriend, mutilated in Dearly Devoted Dexter, the relentlessness of Sergeant Doakes, whose hatred of Dexter is undiminished by his own maiming, and the evolving relationship Dexter has with Rita's damaged children are all elements that could have been more deeply and interestingly explored, instead of the unnecessary complicating aspects of real evil entities. We usually write our reviews independent of other sources, but I was so disappointed and surprised with Dexter in the Dark that I googled it before writing this, and am relieved to find it's not just me who disliked this new direction. Unlike some Amazon reviewers, I didn't have a problem with the coincidence of Rita's children being similarly traumatised, and I think this adds a nice dimension to Dexter's character, within the confines of the series' universe. But if this supernatural, non rational element continues in the fourth Dexter book I'm going to have to reluctantly give up. - Alex

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