Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay

Title: Dexter in the Dark
Author: Jeff Lindsay
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher:  First Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Edition (div of Random House)
Publish Date: 2007
ISBN:  9780307276735

So what kind of moon can this possibly be, with its near breathless smile and smirking lace around the edges?  It batters feebly at the window, but it can’t quite get in past all the sickly-sweet warbling.  And what kind of Dark Avenger could simply sit across the room, as poor Dazed Dexter does now, pretending to listen while mooning blearily on his chair?

Why, this must be a honeymoon – unfurling its marital banner across the living-room night, signaling for all to rally round, sound the charge, once more into the church, dear friends – because Dexter of the Deadly Dimples is getting married.  Hitched to the wagon of bliss pulled by the lovely Rita, who has turned out to have a lifelong passion to see Paris.

…  Can we really see a suddenly sober and simpering slasher at the altar of an actual church, in Fred Astaire tie and tails, slipping the ring onto a white-wrapped finger while the congregation sniffles and beams?  And then Demon Dexter in madras shorts, gawking at the Eiffel Tower and snarfing cafe au lait at the Arc de Triomphe?  Holding hands and trundling giddily along the Seine, staring vacantly at ever gaudy trinket in the Louvre?

Of course, I suppose I could make a pilgrimage to the Rue Morgue, a sacred site for serial slashers.

But let us be just a tiny bit serious for a moment:  Dexter in Paris?  For starters, are Americans still allowed to go to France?  and for finishers, Dexter in Paris?  On a honeymoon?  How can someone of Dexter’s midnight persuasions possibly consider anything so ordinary?  How can someone who considers sex as interesting as deficit accounting enter into marriage?  In short, how by all that is unholy, dark, and deadly can Dexter really mean to do this?

… Dexter can go through with this because he must, in part to maintain and even upgrade his necessary disguise, which prevents the world at large from seeing him for what he is, which is at best not something one would really like to have sitting across the table when the lights go out – especially if there is silverware present.  And quite naturally, it takes a great deal of careful work to make sure it is not generally known that Dexter is driven by his Dark Passenger, a whispery-silk voice in the shaded backseat that from time to time climbs into the front seat to take the wheel and drive us to the Theme Park of the Unthinkable.  It would never do to have the sheep see that Dexter is the wolf among them.

Dexter in the Darkby Jeff Lindsay, pages 5-7

Dexter Morgan is an attractive, charming blood spatter expert in the Miami Police forensics department.  He is engaged to sweet Rita, soon-to-be-step-dad to her two children Astor and Cody.  His sister Don’t-call-me-Debbie-Deborah is a Sergent in homicide, and uses her eldest-sibling status to order and bully Dexter (as much as one could bully him) around crime scenes and investigating the cases.  He is the son of legendary Harry, a now-deceased hero of the force, who taught fledgling Dexter all he knows and trained him in the Harry Code.  Oh yes… and Dexter is also host to what he calls “The Dark Passenger,” a sibilant voice that drives him in an urgent need to kill; Dexter Morgan is a serial killer.

Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay is the third in the Dexter series.  I first found out about the books when I watched Dexter, a television series now in its third season on Showtime.  After watching the first couple shows, I caught the book’s title and author in the end credits and ran to my local Waldenbooks… who, unfortunately, only carried Dexter in the Dark, and, even more to my woe, have closed their doors for good, leaving my town bookstore-less.

Scene from Showtime’s Dexter(the show is rated TVMA, and this clip is at least TV-14):

Because I have had the previous experience of the show, starting up with the third book wasn’t too traumatic a beginning.  The Dark Passenger isn’t mentioned much, if at all, in the TV show, and there were a few major curves as a result from events unknown to me as a result of lacking the information provided by the first two books… Dexter’s upcoming nuptials being a MAJOR surprise (I’ve only seen the first season thus far).  However, Lindsay does a fairly good job of catching the reader up to speed on these occasions, though I would definitely recommend reading them in order, instead, as the “getting-to-know-and-like-the-charming-serial-killer-good-guy” would be found in book one.

As far as writing style goes, I enjoyed Lindsay’s playful alliterations and snarky internal dialogue of the narrator:  I headed out the door for my date with Deborah’s paramour.(p. 272)  Lindsay also toes the line, and occasionally steps over it, with his near-offensive, non-P.C., perverse and irreverent humor, from the xenophobic, misogynistic rant of an elderly witness, to description of the intense and utter pain and agony felt by Dexter Downtroadden at the altar… awaiting his fate as if he were Dexter on Death Row.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the Dexters, but I do want Darkly Dreaming Dexter next.   I think I’ve missed something by starting in the middle of the series, despite seeing the show.  It’s possible I would rate this book higher had I read them in order, as it is I’m going to give Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  I really did enjoy it, but felt it was lacking something (probably books 1 and 2).

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4 Responses

  1. I’ve read all three, and Dexter in the Dark was definitely my least favorite. You should definitely read the first two (in order), because they build off of each other. For instance, you’ll understand much more about Kyle and Doakes after you read the second one.

    The TV show follows the books in the first season, but the second and third season are completely different. They decided to go their own way, but it’s equally as good!

  2. I started the series because my mom had read the first book and loved it. I love the series, although last season I wasn’t too into it. I’m not sure why, but Dexter’s girlfriend bothers the hell outta me (in the show). Did you know that Dexter and the chick that plays his sister just got married?

  3. I read the first two books in the series when they first came out, and I enjoyed them quite a bit. I only watched the television show this past summer. I thought it was good, but I wasn’t impressed. I think Jeff Lindsay does a great job balancing Dexter’s humanity with the monster. I have the third book in my TBR collection but haven’t had a chance to get to it yet.

  4. Dexter has become one of my favorite shows and look forward to season 5. meanwhile Im watching the older episodes at http://www.watchdexterforfree.com so keeps me happy !

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