Monday, March 21, 2005

DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER -- Jeff Lindsay

I'd heard that this was a "different" serial killer book. It's been a long time since I read a serial killer book, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Which goes to show how times have changed. Thirty years ago, I'd read any serial killer book that came along because I liked them and because there were so few of them. Now there are so many that I seldom bother to pick one up, much less read one. But, as so often is the case, I digress.

I was going to say that I liked Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Its serial killer/protagonist/narrator kills only people who need killing, which is supposed to be his redeeming feature, I suppose, but he knows as well as anyone that he's really a monster. That doesn't mean he wants to be destroyed, however. He has a well-developed sense of self-preservation, and he's learned to behave pretty much the way a human being would behave in most situations. (He has a lot of trouble understanding women, but then don't we all?) The fact that he works as a blood-splatter expert for the Miami police is just one of several ironies that we're presented with. The plot involves another serial killer in town, one with whom Dexter seems to have an almost supernatural connection.

One of the cops working the case is Dexter's foster sister, and if you've read any serial killer novels at all, I don't need to tell you that any woman connected with the protagonist of one of these books is going to be in serious trouble sooner or later. But Lindsay manages to twist this encounter enough to make it different and interesting. I'm not going to start a binge of reading about serial killers anytime soon, but I'm glad I picked this book up for a change of pace.

3 comments:

Tania said...

I also liked this book, but am wondering how this premise will play out in a series (with Dearly Devoted Dexter coming out this July).

Hardluck Writer said...

I'm having a tough time coming to grips with this book. It's well-written, clever, but I find the whole idea of making a serial killer a hero very disturbing and am trying to figure out what that says about society and the reading population in general. Yeah, Dexter is handsome, charming, witty, and only kills bad people - but he's a serial killer who does get off with his killings!

Anonymous said...

I'm reading the advance reader copy of Dearly Devoted Dexter now, and it's wonderful! Yes, Tania, it plays out well. And I think one of the reasons it works so well is that he touches that latent bit of psychopathy in all of us, he gets rid of the ones we secretly (or not so secretly) think deserve to be dead. And he does it with charm, humor and, in an odd way, positive ethics.