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Unfortunately I Watched the Series First: SPOILER

  • Jun 22, 2012
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"Darkly Dreaming Dexter" is not a bad read. After all, it spawned the character of Dexter Morgan that Showtime metamorphosed into an anti-hero the likes of such only Walter White of AMC's "Breaking Bad" and perhaps Don Draper of that same network's "Mad Men" could possibly rival. If there is a problem with "Darkly Dreaming Dexter, it lies in the expectation that author Jeff Lindsay could possibly power-up his brain to compete and/or compliment those of the group of most likely highly paid writers employed by the television series "Dexter" with the incentive to continually shock and titillate its audience. Sadly, no matter what Lindsay does, legally or literally, the character Dexter no longer is his sole proprietorship--Dexter is like HAL in "2001"or Dr. Frankenstein's monster; he has taken on an identity and personality of his own and this is the persona to which the audience relates and responds. Showtime's Dexter IS Dexter.

In "Darkly Dreaming Dexter," we glimpse Eliza Doolittle before she blossoms into "My Fair Lady," We hear his voice and we recognize Dexter and the presence of his "dark passenger." We understand his abnormality--his need to playact emotions that he doesn't feel because we are already conditioned to like the Dexter of the show. We enjoy his sardonic wit and understand when he is preparing a vigilante kill according to the "Code of Harry." What fails to entertain us in the pre-series world of Dexter's introduction as a recurring main character in a series of novels is the divergence of the book from the plot meticulously outlined in the first series of the show. Reading Lindsay after seeing the first series was like sawing off a foot for Dexter instead of a whole leg.

Key characters that the show develops don't even make it out of the pages of "Darkly Dreaming Dexter." Most of the premise is there--the Icebox Killer and the link to Dexter's childhood, but because I was waiting for what I knew happened in the series, I was seriously disappointed when it not only didn't occur, the book fizzled to a too quick and different ending that killed off characters that enrich the series' following seasons immensely.

Dexter Morgan is still there; he's just a single guitar playing without the technology of his band or maybe he's a blunt knife and not a chainsaw.

Bottom line? If you, like me, got hooked on Showtime's Dexter, you most likely will be disappointed by "Darkly Dreaming Dexter," the first novel by Jeff Lindsay that features serial killer vigilante Dexter Morgan. Lindsay's Dexter is most assuredly recognizable. However, the situations and premise of the novel's plot are better realized by the writers of the series. Unfortunately, for the book, the first series of the television show added more nuance and kept interesting characters in the mix that add a comfortable comradery to the cast as a whole. Their vision of Dexter and his makeshift family make you want to watch. Recommended just for Dexter die-hards.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

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July 15, 2012
About the reviewer
Diana Faillace Von Behren ()
Ranked #166
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments.      Usually I review a book or film with the … more
About this product


Meet Dexter Morgan. He's a highly respected lab technician specializing in blood spatter for the Miami Dade Police Department. He's a handsome, though reluctant, ladies' man. He's polite, says all the right things, and rarely calls attention to himself. He's also a sociopathic serial killer whose "Dark Passenger" drives him to commit the occasional dismemberment.

Mind you, Dexter's the good guy in this story.

Adopted at the age of four after an unnamed tragedy left him orphaned, Dexter's learned, with help from his pragmatic policeman father, to channel his "gift," killing only those who deal in death themselves. But when a new serial killer starts working in Miami, staging elaborately grisly scenes that are, to Dexter, an obvious attempt at communication from one monster to another, the eponymous protagonist finds himself at a loss. Should he help his policewoman sister Deborah earn a promotion to the Homicide desk by finding the fiend? Or should he locate this new killer himself, so he can express his admiration for the other's "art?" Or is it possible that psycho Dexter himself, admittedly not the most balanced of fellows, is finally going completely insane and committing these messy crimes himself?

Despite his penchant for vivisection, it's hard not to like Dexter as his coldly logical personality struggles to emulate emotions he doesn't feel and to keep up his appearance as a caring, unremarkable human being. Breakout author Jeff Lindsay's plot is tense and ...

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