Meet Dexter Morgan, a polite wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s handsome and charming, but something in his past has made him abide by a different set of rules. He’s a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: he only kills bad people. And his job as a blood splatter expert for the Miami police department puts him in the perfect position to identify his victims. But when a series of brutal murders bearing a striking similarity to his own style start turning up, Dexter is caught between being flattered and being frightened — of himself or some other fiend.
I don’t even know how to start my review on this one. Let me just say that I really, really, really love the TV show, Dexter, that is based on this novel. That is why I decided to read this book series in the first place. Michael C. Hall’s portrayal of Dexter is just amazing. The TV series is so good it makes me want to stay in Dexter’s world. It will be hard not to compare the two and like one than the other. And as with the case for novels turned movies/TV series, one of the two will most likely disappoint you. And this Jeff Lindsay novel did it for me. But just a little bit.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter is about blood splatter analyst for Miami police, Dexter Morgan. He is handsome, charming and smart but keeps a big dark secret: he is a serial killer. But not to worry. He is following a set of rules laid out by his foster father who was a cop, the Harry Code. Harry spotted Dexter’s strange behavior since he was a kid and decided to train him and instill the rules he had to follow every time he was called by his urges. And the most important rule is that he only has to kill bad people, means serial killers who prey on the innocent ones. Another rule to live by is, don’t ever get caught. And Dexter religiously follow the code. It works for him so well and he enjoys his hobby too much to risk getting caught. Being in the police force provides a perfect cover for him. Well, who would suspect him in the first place when your job is to catch bad guys, right? His job which he’s good at helps him on his research for possible playmates as well. There is no better place to look for his victim than a police department. The choices are endless! He is living the life every serial killer dreamed of. Out in the open, without the fear of getting caught. Why, aside from his job, he got himself a girlfriend. Rita, the divorcee who had domestic violence history and with two strange kids. Because of it, she is not interested in an intimate relationship and Dexter is very much okay with it since he feels the same way. He doesn’t care that much about relationship and stuff. He even believed he is not capable of loving someone or feeling anything towards someone. He just wants to appear normal, so as not to arouse suspicion. Even his foster sister Deborah, a tough woman who happens to be a cop, just like their dad, don’t have a slight idea of Dexter’s true nature. Life is great for dear Dexter. But when a serial killing surfaces which target prostitutes and more or less use similar methods as his, only neater, Dexter starts to wonder if it’s a copycat or maybe someone is out there to get him.
It started good and the story stays close to the TV series. I started to relax and enjoyed being back to the dark and twisted world of Dexter. Getting into the mind of a serial killer is quite disturbing but Dexter’s sarcastic and funny internal monologues make him very likeable and sometimes even endearing. The idea of having a serial killer as the main character is quite intriguing. And it takes a great talent from the author to make a character that is considered detestable and turn him into a likeable one, much more to sympathize and root for him. And Jeff Lindsay managed to do that perfectly. Dexter is a character that you can’t help but like even though he’s a serial killer. Add to that is the fact that he only kills bad people. The supporting characters also add to the appeal of the story, too. There’s Sergeant Doakes, a police officer who hates Dexter and who seems to see through his mask of normality. Doakes suspects of him hiding something, but not sure what it is, and make sure to remind him at all times. I also like the badass Deborah. But personally, I prefer the series Debra (yep, they changed her name). Deborah can be a bit annoying sometimes. Her tough persona is just too much for me and her attitude towards what happened at the end is so unlikely plus it is different from the TV series. It will surely be interesting to know what spin Lindsay is in store for the rest of the series. I just feel like the ending was rushed and he gives a lot more attention on Dexter’s internal monologues which can be dragging. Overall, though, Darkly Dreaming Dexter is a solid read. The plot is unique and out of the norm, which is the huge appeal of this book. It may be creepy being inside a serial killer’s head, but being inside the mind of a character like Dexter is interesting. It is a mystery crime story so expect some gory details. I very much prefer the TV series, but the book version is not that bad. If you enjoyed the show, try to read the novel so you can get the other version of the story. It is curious. And even if you haven’t seen the show yet, give this one a shot. You might enjoy it, too. I’d give this 3.5 stars but decided to stretch for four because of the TV series. I know, not fair but just give me this one. 😉
(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)
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