Sunday, September 09, 2012

Darkly Dreaming Dexter : My Review

I was really sceptical about reading this book because like a lot of people, even I had seen the show before I knew about the original Dexter Series. But I was surprised how much I liked this book and what an addictive character Dexter is.
In a way I am glad I watched the show before because it gave me an opportunity to judge the performance of Michael C. Hall and I am glad to say that I have a new found respect for the actor. His performance in the show is simply remarkable.
Although that might have something to do with the fact that I really like Michael C. Hall and his face and voice were very much in my head the whole time, instead of the character as described by the author Jeff Lindsay.
To start with I want to post the book cover summary. What better to give you an idea about the book than the original summary which was published for this purpose only, right?
Meet Dexter, a polite wolf in sheep’s clothing . . . a monster who cringes at the site of blood . . . a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likable: he only kills bad people.

Dexter Morgan isn’t exactly the kind of man you’d bring home to Mom. Though he’s playful and has a wonderfully ironic sense of humour, Dexter’s one character flaw (his proclivity for murder) can be off-putting. But at heart Dexter is the perfect gentleman, supportive of his sister, Deb, a Miami cop, and interested only in doing away with people who really deserve his special visit. Dex is quite good-looking but totally indifferent to (and, frankly, a bit puzzled by) the attentions paid to him by women. Despite the fact that he can’t stand the sight of blood, he works as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police department, a job that allows him to keep tabs on the latest crimes and keep an eye open for his next quarry.

Dexter’s well-organized life is suddenly disrupted when a second, much more visible serial killer appears in Miami. Dex is intrigued, even delighted, by the fact that the other killer appears to have a style reminiscent of his own. Yet he can’t help but feel that the mysterious new arrival is not merely invading his turf, but reaching out to him as well. This new killer seems to be doing more than copying Dexter—he seems to be saying, “Come out and play.” Dexter’s secret life makes for a lonely existence . . . even a lovable monster can be intrigued by the prospect of finding a friend.

The story, as you can see, is about a Serial Killer.  Dexter Morgan.
Mind you, Dexter's the good guy in this story!
Dexter is fluent in sarcasm and subtle wit which makes it an interesting read.
This book is definitely not a typical "serial killer vs. police" novel. The protagonist, Dexter Morgan, works with the Miami P.D. analyzing blood splatter at crime scenes, and as a result he becomes involved in the city-wide search for a serial killer victimizing area prostitutes. The twist, of course, is that Dexter is a serial killer himself. Not the serial killer currently being hunted by the police, but a serial killer, nonetheless.
In general, I stay away from novels about serial killers and anything that could be filed under "True Crime", mainly because of the level of human cruelty and gore that is usually involved. That being said, I doubt it's possible to write a book about a serial killer, let alone a book about two serial killers, without some descriptions of grotesque violence. However the author does keep the descriptions to a minimum and doesn't indulge in unnecessary descriptions of gore just for the shock effect.
The problem with your typical crime book is the lack of characterisation. There's plenty of that in here, in fact, it's all about the characters. There's still a plot, though, and a mystery, which you can figure out somewhat before Dexter does (partly because I already knew but I think even for readers who haven’t seen the show, it should be easy to figure out), but it all hinges on the characters.
In many ways, mysteries rely on deeply human motivations, passions, emotions, etc., which the author has deliberately removed from Dexter. What delights me about this book is how the author still manages to fit Dexter into that paradigm without giving Dexter a sudden fit of human compassion. The rules are the rules from the beginning to the end, and there's no wavering.
It seems really necessary somehow, to me, to compare the book with the show. So here it goes. The first season of the show follows Darkly Dreaming Dexter very closely, with some exceptions. I was thrilled with how much they expended Inspector Angel Batista's role on the show, because he's one of my favourite characters, it was quite a shock to see how little he was in the book. The epilogue of Darkly Dreaming Dexter, although seemed too rushed, but is sufficiently different enough from the show that I'm pretty hyped up to find out where book 2 takes things.
Although the additions and changes the show makes to the plot are only positive. The book's reveal of the Ice Truck Killer and the use of Dexter's dark dreams to find him toe the believability line.
I will search out the other "Dexter" books by Jeff Lindsay, not because they are amazing examples of police procedurals, but because Dexter Morgan is one of the most unique characters I've ever come across.
I would recommend it to those people who enjoys the morbid side of life or who enjoyed the TV show.
Not for the faint hearted, or the easily offended people. Or probably just about everyone else. So now I will go back to pretending I am horrified by this book...

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