Book review: Dexter #1: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (Orion Books, 2005 )
Dexter Morgan appears to be the perfect gentleman. He leads a normal, quiet life working as a forensic officer for the Miami Police. He has a nice, shy girlfriend and is liked by her young children. But Dexter has a secret hobby. He’s an accomplished serial killer.
So far he’s killed dozens of people and has never been caught, because he knows exactly how to dispose of the evidence. And there are those who would rather he wasn’t caught at all, because Dexter is a serial killer with a difference. He only kills the city’s bad guys.
Then Dexter’s well-organised life is thrown into chaos. Another serial killer is invading his territory – and he wants Dexter to come out and play …
This is the first book in the series behind the successful TV show starring Michael C Hall. I’ve followed Dexter since series one, and when I came across this book I thought it would be a brilliant idea to read it. Just took a while before I actually got around to it.
Yes, Dexter and his Dark Passenger are books. Darkly Dreaming Dexter is narrated by Dexter Morgan, and if you remember the first series of the TV show you’ll recognise a lot of things in this book.
Not everything is the same, and while I don’t remember every little detail of series one, I do remember the ending being very different. I kept expecting Debra (just as foul-mouthed as on the show, don’t worry) to say she’s dating this new guy who then turns out to be the Ice Truck Killer, but that never happened – so that’s another difference.
In the book Dexter and the Ice Truck Killer are very similar physically, which they weren’t in the series. Because the ending is so very different, I wonder what implications that will have on the rest of the books in the series. After all, I just know what happened in series two, not what happens in book two. But I’m dying (pardon the pun) to find out.
Jeff Lindsay’s writing style is easy to follow and Darkly Dreaming Dexter is a quick read – that it only had 275 pages probably helped to speed things up too. It’s fast-paced, it’s amusing at times, and the cynical voice of Dexter helps bring it all together.
I think the TV series made him a bit more human, however. Or at least, you get that feeling more than in the book, because yeah, I don’t think he’s that cynical on TV. And yes, I read the whole thing narrated in Michael C Hall’s voice. No real way around that. Not that I’m complaining.
If you like a quirky crime thriller where you end up sympathising with a serial killer (!), this is a great read. If you like Dexter the TV show, you’ll love this, but perhaps not as much if you insist on everything being exactly the same, because they’re not. The chilling “OMG!! Please don’t discover him and put him in jail! … What am I saying? He’s a f***ing SERIAL KILLER!!! LOCK HIM UP!!” argument you’ll end up having with yourself is definitely there. Rooting for the bad guy is definitely different. Dexter doesn’t deserve to have us on his side, but by golly, it’s difficult to resist.
5 out of 5 Barbie dolls. Now, where did I put book two?