Today, Hartford Books Examiner reviews Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.
The book series, which inspired the hit Showtime dramedy, features protagonist Dexter Morgan—an employee of the Miami police department who also happens to be “the world’s only serial killer with a conscience.” A blood-spatter analyst by day, Dexter possesses what he calls “the Dark Passenger”—an avenging presence that stalks the streets when the sun goes down.
Asking readers to empathize with, and even root for, a murderer would pose a challenge for most authors. Fortunately, Lindsay writes with an assurance that nearly immediately negates that concern. Though Dexter has a thirst for blood, he adheres to a strict code of conduct taught to him by his late step-father, Henry. Namely, he will not take revenge upon a person until he has irrefutable proof of their guilt. Additionally, Dexter possesses both an acute sense of self-awareness (often referring to himself as a monster) and a dark, biting humor that regularly elicits laugh-out-loud moments.
Dearly Devoted finds Dexter interrupted in a quest to claim his 41st victim—an accomplice to the homicidal pedophile that he dispatches at the onset of the book. When his nemesis, Sergeant Doakes, expresses suspicion and begins tailing Dexter, he is forced to quell his nighttime stalking and instead concentrate on creating a more mundane image. To do so, he devotes himself to spending time with his girlfriend and her two kids (one of whom just may harbor some dark instincts of his own), which leads to a hilarious engagement through misunderstanding—and the perfect set-up for future installments.
Amidst this charade, Dexter is drawn into an explosive criminal investigation. Working alongside his straight-shooter cop sister, Deborah, he must track down an elusive killer known as Dr. Danco, whose methods of torture are so precise and heinous that even Dexter is left speechless—and awed. Complicating matters is the abduction of Deborah’s love interest, an agent on loan from the Feds who has enigmatic ties to both Doakes and Dr. Danco. And as Dexter conducts his own investigation, he comes dangerously close to finding himself on the wrong side of the blade.
With Dearly Devoted Dexter, Jeff Lindsay has crafted a compelling story that is equal parts humorous and horrifying—and wholly original. Steamy Miami serves as the backdrop, and local flavors (such as abundant Tito Puente references and on-location scenes, often related to dining) add a sense of realism. But it’s Dexter who ultimately wins over readers. He courts you shamelessly, seduces you like prey, and ultimately leaves you wanting more…
*Note: This is the second book in the series. Darkly Dreaming Dexter is the first.
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