Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Big Bad Cuckoo Daddy

Title: Dearly Devoted Dexter
Author: Jeff Lindsay
Bookmark: Two-dollar bill; a return on my investment in someone else's stake in a poker game

After chasing away banner ads on IMDB for Showtime's series, I found out that it was based on the first Dexter novel, but that one didn't get to my library (at my request) until this morning. Over the weekend, I placated myself with the second.

It took me a little bit (maybe two or three chapters) to get into it, but I eventually did, as I will with almost any well-written crime story. Besides, it was published by Black Lizard, which has a cool logo and also printed the six-pound behemoth I've been reading for several months now.

Dexter Morgan is a serial killer, but his adoptive cop father Harry saw what Dex would become very early in life and carefully molded him to follow what Dexter comes to call The Harry Code. Kill only serial killers; kill only those who escape justice by standard, legal means. Get proof. Be certain. Harry taught his homicidal honor student to be extremely careful, cautious, and patient. Dexter's "Dark Passenger," a semi-buried alter ego, drives him to kill. His sister is a cop who apparently knows what her adopted brother does in his free time. Oh, and he's a forensic blood-spatter expert for the Miami police.

Dearly Devoted Dexter shows us a monster well aware of his monstrosity, stalked by a cop whose partner was killed (not by Dexter, but he was there observing) at the end of the previous novel. His hounding keeps our mega-anti-hero from a "playdate" with a pedophile's accomplice and forces Dexter to bore the officer (Doakes) into submission by settling into a dull routine of visiting his girlfriend, whom he internally refers to as a disguise. Dexter doesn't experience emotions, so all emotional displays are carefully practiced charades picked up from movies and observing humans. His monotony is interrupted by entry in Miami of a horrifying new criminal.

A man is found, grossly dismembered, but still alive. A mirror suspended above him guarantees that he can see what he ahas become, and that any trace of sanity he might have once had is lost and gone forever, my darling Clementine. Dexter must team up with his sister and Doakes to find the fiend when his sister's new boyfriend is taken by the madman.

It's entertaining to read Dexter's completely detached observations and completely inappropriate remarks, but the symptoms of his madness--even the ones he himself constantly reminds us he has--are a little inconsistent, and for someone as smart as he's supposed to be, he does a few really stupid things. I didn't really buy the whole show, but I needed some dark candy, and this fit the bill. Plus, there's a constant theme of alliteration in Dexter's nicknames for himself and his observations that I enjoyed, and above all, it's still entertaining. And I asked the library to go find the first book, so now I have to read it.

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posted by reyn at 1:11 PM


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