Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

In my review of the first Dexter book, I stated that I had no interest in reading another, being a little disappointed with it in comparison to the excellent television series. Well, I got tired waiting for season three to come out on DVD, and I really needed my Dexter fix, so I thought, What the hell. While season one is a fairly faithful adaptation of Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter, season two doesn’t follow Dearly Devoted Dexter. There are some strong overlaps in terms of the story arc, such as Sergeant Doakes stalking Dexter and Dexter’s sister Deborah forming a relationship with an FBI agent who becomes involved with their main case. It’s clear the series writer(s) were familiar with the book, but chose to go in a very different direction with the main story.

The thrust of the book is the hunt for a serial killer who is targetting specific individuals, abducting them, cutting off their arms, legs, lips and eyelids, cauterising the wounds, then placing them (still alive) in front of a mirror, for the police to find the insanely screaming remains of a human being. Who is this madman? What’s the connection between the victims? These are the questions that Dexter and team must answer before the body count rises. What makes things interesting is, of course, Dexter’s own dark nature thrown into the mix. And when Sergeant Doakes is abducted, this would appear to remove a major thorn from Dexter’s side, but would the Code of Harry be satisfied to leave things as they are?

The book held my interest for the duration of its length, but the ending was a real let-down, and is really my only gripe. All the detective work is swept adide as Dexter makes a lucky guess, leading him to the psychopath. A crude storytelling shortcut, especially for a crime novel, where real intricate detective work is what satisfies the reader. I think the television writers wisely went their own way this time, because the second series took the Dexter character into more dramatic and interesting territory, fleshing out a much more complex drama between Dexter and Doakes, as well as introducing a love interest for Dexter who turns out to be just as misanthopic as Dexter, in her own way. Once again, the series outdoes the book. Dearly Devoted Dexter is worth a read and is certainly above average. If it weren’t for the ending, I would rate it higher. There are currently four Dexter books in print. I might be back for more. We’ll see.

2 thoughts on “Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

  1. Phil Henry says:

    I have to agree that the TV series is superior. I just finished reading the third book, Dexter in the Dark, and found it the most disappointing so far.

    The story concerns the origins of Dexter’s ‘Dark Passenger’ and tries to make us believe that it is its own seperate entity; a demon that has existed since the Earth was new, jumping from host to host and making them do evil. It’s a nice enough theory, and might just work in one of my books, but in the middle of a crime series that has never had any other supernatural leanings, it seems a bit ridiculous.

  2. Darryl Sloan says:

    That does seem like a leap in a strange direction for the Dexter saga. I always appreciated the angle of him being a misfit trying to survive the only way he knew how. But now, if the urges he feels aren’t really his own responsibility, that really devalues what Dexter is about. But I’m intrigued nevertheless.

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