Wednesday, August 12

Dexter by Design - Jeff Lindsay

Now married, blood splatter analyst and disciplined serial killer Dexter Morgan has been honeymooning in Paris. Though all the sites were interesting, he was most affected by a performance art piece where a woman gradually amputates her own, living leg. Perhaps this, in combination with his own proclivities, is why he sees differently the gruesome tableaus that await his return to Miami.
The first discovery is of a couple who look as though they're tourists, complete with lairy towels, guidebook, broad smiles (courtesy of glued-on translucent masks) and... body cavities emptied of intestines and filled with a fruit basket in one case and snorkeling gear in the other. While Dexter's sister Deborah, still reeling from his disclosures about his hobby and their father's role in shaping him, is horrified, Dexter senses something different about these deaths. He senses shock value with an agenda, rather than murder for the love of it, and this insight sets him on an separate investigative path.
I was disappointed in Dexter's previous foray, and had some trepidation going in. I was pleasantly surprised by Lindsay's return to form - there's no more talk of Moloch, Watchers or independent evil, and instead we have progress on the fronts I find more interesting - Dexter's ongoing efforts at passing for normal, his reluctant mentorship of his equally dark step-children, the evolution of his sibling relationship, a slip toward the forbidden dark side, and the sprinkling of dark humour that makes reading this series an unexpected joy.
Dexter has a clear, perceptive voice that I really enjoy, and Lindsay balances his perspective with a more conventional one to great effect. For example, after an insight Deborah finds unhelpful:
I was left alone to suffer in the knowledge that I had failed my sister.
I am sure that suffering would have been terrible if I was capable of feeling remorse, or any other crippling human emotion, but I am not built for it, and so I didn't feel it - or anything else except hunger.

I hope that this return to form holds true, and look forward to encountering Dexter again, something I thought I would not be able to say this time last year. - Alex

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