The beauty of a book series is being unable to put each part down, and itching to move on to the next. I haven’t run into a series that I couldn’t put down, and I’m grateful. The latest on my completion list is Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series. It’s more known in popular culture from the TV series starring Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter, which is what brought me to read the original work in the first place.
Followers of the TV series will find themselves in familiar territory with Dearly Devoted Dexter. The TV adaptation is faithful to supporting characters’ developments and personalities, particularly with Dexter’s darling sister Deborah and his ‘arch nemesis’ Sergeant Doakes. But unlike the ‘more human’ version of Dexter on TV, the book’s anti-hero is cold–cold as a cold blooded killer should be. His friendliness, social charms, relationship, et al, are all parts of a disguise–the disguise that his father Harry told him to have so his true nature would not get caught. He is a sociopath with a need to murder, and Lindsay does not back down in executing this trait. Dexter is not a character you’re supposed to sympathize with; he fascinates the reader – readers like me, who at first want to understand this nature, but in the end, stay for the gripping murder mystery.
The second part of the series begins with Dexter dealing with the suspicions of his co-worker, Sergeant Doakes. These suspicions continue from the first book, but grow to a larger scale as Doakes decides to stalk Dexter to observe for any incriminating acts. Dexter, ever vigilant in maintaining his disguise, decides to lie low by living the domesticated life. He visits his girlfriend Rita more often, which leads to an accidental engagement. Along the way, a new serial killer comes to challenge the Miami PD. His sister Deborah is ever determined to catch him, and enlists his brother for an extra hand. The case brings about an unprecedented partnership between Doakes and Dexter, as both need to catch this killer before they find themselves on the murderous end.
Similar to the first book, Dearly Devoted Dexter hooks readers with Dexter’s clever cold-blooded quips and a layer-after-layer murderer chase. The details are vivid and the characters consistent. Thankfully, unlike the first book, the mystery wasn’t concluded in a rush. It was as if Lindsay was making up for this previous rushed ending, as he made sure all the relevant plot points and solved mysteries were written into the right moments. You also see Dexter ‘grow’ as a ‘person,’ as his seemingly nonexistent sympathetic side goes to Rita’s children and towards pleasing his sister. Rita, Deborah, and Vince Masuka have stronger presences within the plot–a plus for those who enjoyed their roles on the TV show.
Overall, it was an enjoyable read–but not much else. Not that I was expecting mind blogging surrealism or a new insight into my existence. The book’s entertainment value is not to be taken for granted, and definitely makes the hours spent worth the page turning. Fans of the TV series will appreciate the cold contrast between seriously-serial-killer book Dexter and sympathetic-turning-human TV Dexter. Which one do I enjoy reading/watching more? I’ve always said I can’t enjoy a book if I don’t like a character. Lindsay’s books have changed that attitude. I cannot ever like a psycho serial killer–but I can definitely enjoy reading about his twisted pursuits and see if he manages to escape the universe’s moral compass.