Jeff Lindsay

Dexter Morgan - Blood Splatter Specialist and Serial Killer, Miami, Florida

"Dearly Devoted Dexter"

(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky JUL 15, 2005)

“And so I had learned how to dress neatly and smile and brush my teeth. I had become a perfect fake human, saying all the stupid and pointless things that humans say to each other all day long. No one suspected what crouched behind my perfect imitation smile.”

Dearly Devoted Dexter, Jeff Lindsay’s second novel, again features Dexter Morgan, a serial killer with a heart of gold. By day, Dexter is a blood spatter analyst with the Miami police department. Under the light of the moon, Dexter listens to his inner voice, which he calls the “Dark Passenger,” as it impels him to track down people who commit terrible crimes without fear of punishment. Dexter happily takes upon himself the triple roles of judge, jury, and executioner. He gleefully dismembers his victims, as well.

However, Dexter is distracted when another monster, who makes Dexter look like Mother Teresa, takes center stage. This individual, known by the nickname of Dr. Danco, literally takes his victims apart, one limb at a time. However, he does not kill his victims. When their bodies are found, these unfortunate people are doomed to a half-life without some vital body parts. Dexter’s foster sister, Debbie, a sergeant in the Miami police force, is in danger of going crazy when Dr. Danco nabs her new lover, a federal agent named Kyle Chutsky. Deborah desperately turns to Dexter to save the day. The police, who should be helping to nab Dr. Danco, are mostly AWOL, leaving Dexter to do the lion’s share of the dirty work.

In addition to the aforementioned Dr. Danco, another villain is Sergeant Doakes of the Miami PD, who has taken a tremendous dislike to Dexter. Doakes senses that Dexter has the same hidden murderous impulses as he does, and he would like nothing better than to nab his nemesis during one of his nocturnal missions. To throw Doakes off his scent, Dexter starts spending an inordinate amount of time with his girlfriend, Rita, and her two kids, a habit that leads to unintended consequences.

As fond as I am of Dexter, I must point out that, this time around, Lindsay’s writing is a little less sharp than it was in his first novel. The author makes some vague references to unsavory activities conducted by United States forces in El Salvador to explain Dr. Danco’s motive. However, the plot is wafer thin, and the characters are as insubstantial as the story.

What ultimately saves the book is its dark, sardonic, and grotesque humor. Dexter is an amusing narrator with an extremely sick mind, and he is very funny. Not all readers will appreciate the many dismemberment puns, especially considering the nauseating scenes of gore and sadism that permeate this book. However, the strong of stomach will get a kick out of Lindsay’s satirical send-off of the many formulaic serial killer novels that flood the literary market every year.

Furthermore, Dearly Devoted Dexter is fast-paced and it features a nifty chase sequence as well as a hair-raising conclusion. As an added bonus, Dexter may have found a young protégé to whom he can pass on his own life lessons, making Dexter a potential Mr. Rogers, albeit with homicidal tendencies. Although Dearly Devoted Dexter is not your typical mainstream thriller, it has a unique offbeat and wacky appeal, making it a worthy follow-up to Lindsay’s terrific debut novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 213 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Dearly Devoted Dexter at publisher's website

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"Darkly Dreaming Dexter"

(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky JUL 15, 2005)

In Jeff Lindsay's Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the antihero is Dexter Morgan, a lovable serial killer. Dexter suffered through a traumatic childhood event, and it left him with an insatiable desire to kill people. Instead of visiting a psychiatrist or joining a support group, Dexter pursues his hobby and finds interesting ways to satisfy his blood lust. Ironically, Dexter's day job is blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department.

It's hard not to like Dexter. He's good-looking, unfailingly polite, and attentive to his sister, Deb, a cop. Since Dexter has terrific insight into the minds of serial killers, he helps his sister by feeding her his opinions on an investigation into a series of brutal killings and dismemberments of female prostitutes in Miami. Deb hopes that this information will help her crack the case and get a promotion to the Homicide Bureau. As this other serial killer continues on his murderous rampage, it becomes increasingly clear that Dexter's understanding of the case and his empathy with the killer is too thorough. He begins to suspect that there is a strong and frightening connection between him and the murderer.

Dexter is a fascinating and original character, a serial killer with a self-deprecating sense of humor and no illusions about himself. He knows that he is not like everyone else, and he tries to make the best of it. In several hilarious scenes, women hit on Dexter, and he is so devoid of real emotion and human understanding, that he has no idea how to respond.

Lindsay covers some old territory, too, in which he explores departmental politics and bureaucratic ineptitude in the police department. The dialogue is clever and witty and the story is fast-paced, albeit completely unrealistic, but the book succeeds mostly because Dexter is so entertaining. Is it tasteful to feature a hero who kills regularly because his inner demons compel him to do so? Probably not, but Darkly Dreaming Dexter is funny, deliciously creepy, and a real page-turner.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 548 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Darkly Dreaming Dexter at publisher's website

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Jeff Lindsay lives in South Florida with his wife and three daughters. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014