The beginning of the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter finds Dexter Morgan, and his “Dark Passenger” – a nickname he has for his serial killer alter ego – getting ready for a kill. The target has been picked, the trap has been laid, and the only thing left is to spring it. One comes to find out that the victim really deserved it, and well, the world is just better off.
With his Dark Passenger satisfied, Dexter returns to his normal life of hiding behind a regular good guy persona. He lives by a code set by his adoptive father, Harry, who was a cop, which pretty much states that he can only kill those who are truly guilty of bad things. Things seem to be settling into another normal day when he gets a call from his adopted sister, Deborah, who is also a cop, about a crime scene she wanted him to come to.
This crime scene is just the first of many staged by the villain in the novel, Brian, Dexter’s biological brother. Apparently, murdering people runs in the family.
Dexter does not remember what happened to him to cause him to become adopted by the Morgan family. Brian does all sorts of creative things to jog Dexter’s memory about him, ultimately wanting them to join forces and become one big happy serial killer family.
The story ultimately culminates in a scene between Dexter, Brian, and Deborah. Brian has kidnapped Deborah, and has her strapped to a table like Dexter would do to one of his victims, and wants himself and Dexter to kill Deb together. Dexter realizes he cannot, that’s Deb, his sister. Dexter chooses instead to free Deborah and Brian escapes, although Dexter later surmises that with an APB out on him, it’s only a matter of time before he’s caught.
Jeff Lindsay, the author, does a bone-chillingly good job of writing a novel from the perspective of the serial killer, as well as making one like him in the process. Darkly Dreaming Dexter takes what should be a highly unlikeable character and makes him into the hero. The unexpected twist on the protagonist is quite refreshing.
This is also the novel that the first season of the Showtime television show, Dexter, was based on. The books and the show pretty much went different ways after that, so, if one was a fan of the show, there is still a world of adventures that Dexter has been on that still remains to be discovered.
Caution is to be had with this novel, however. The reviewer would be hesitant to suggest it for a teenager, due to the graphic nature of the novel. Parental guidance is highly suggested for this one. If one is a fan of the television show, or just would like an enjoyable novel to read, this one is one to reach for.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter is available at the Howard County Public Library in both print and audio CD. Copies are limited, so if it is unavailable, ask to be placed on the waiting list for it at the front desk.
In addition to serving as an associate librarian with the Howard County Library, Nicole Tracy has years of experience in literary fields. She writes an exclusive weekly column for The Nashville News.