on 7 October 2007
I, like many others reviewing this book, have watched the show first and then was so impressed with it, felt compelled to read the book. I haven't felt this eager to read a book in a long time and I wasn't disappointed. What I am disappointed with is the largely negative reviews here.
Everyone's entitled to their opinions but I felt some of them must have been reading a different book to myself. Ok, I will admit that the book is not as big as I was expecting but then I don't feel it needed to be. The book is full of humour and the characters are interesting.
Some characters, such as Angel Batista, are not seen as much in the book as they are in tv show, but other characters such as Vince Masuoka are seen more. The producers of the show decided to show more of Batista than Masuoka and that is their perogative. I thought the characterisation of Masouka was good and showed that perhaps Dexter could have a friend, or at least someone to connect with.
Perhaps the criticism that has puzzled me the most is the theory that the character of Dexter is not likeable enough in the book. Correct me if I'm wrong, but considering the self-mocking tone displayed in the book as written from Dexter's perspective, it left me feeling like that was the point: Dexter knows what he is, and what he is isn't suppoosed to be likeable.
His constant references to not being human make him an anti-hero, not someone to be admired and revered for being righteous. If people choose to like Dexter (which they admittedly do and I am one of them), it's because we choose to, not because we're supposed to.
True, as it is written from Dexter's point of view, there is the sense that we are supposed to sympathise with Dexter but, after all, he is still a serial killer, and is in his own admission, a man with no guilt response.
The story is a lot shorter than the tv show but then a tv show's job is take something like Dexter and add their own spin on it: it's the same with Hollywood movies; I urge anyone to read Stephen King's The Shining and then see Stanley Kubrick's version and tell me just how different it is.
The obvious difference is the character of LaGuerta. In the show, she is a stronger, more competent character, however in the book she is shown as someone not particularly intelligent but displaying a hard edge at points. The main difference regarding LaGuerta is something I won't go into for fear of ruining the book for those who haven't read it.
The book has a lot of quirky humour and the story, although short, is still very interesting and inventive. Some characters have more depth than others and some are very different from the tv show. What I will say, to finish, is this: if you've seen the tv show first, please be aware it is quite different to the tv show but that shouldn't become a criticism of the book.
Television producers jobs are to take a book or script and tailor it to their own needs: they are two completely different mediums and one shouldn't be criticised because of the other.
on 12 November 2005
It really pains me to have to give this book less than five stars, because for most of the way Darkly Dreaming Dexter is a blistering, caustic, delirious and hugely entertaining novel that sweeps the reader up and carries you effortlessly along for the ride. However, in the closing stages the plot reverts to one too many over-used crime fiction staples which spoil the outstanding promise shown until that point. The damage is severe, but thankfully Dexter is such dazzling company before this that the weaknesses in the conclusion are not quite enough to bring the whole enterprise to its knees.
There is much to recommend this book before you get to the end, however. Firstly you must admire the originality of Jeff Lindsay’s undertaking: without ever shying away from what Dexter is, he gives us a serial killer who is not only human but also extremely likeable. There is something endearing in Dexter’s inability to understand emotion and the coldly clinical view of people that he takes as a result of this. That he simply accepts it as part of who he is, rather than lamenting it at great length, only makes him a more congenial narrator, as his cynicism, honesty and confusion are wonderful traits to observe; he never asks for sympathy and yet is still a surprisingly sympathetic character, especially as everything starts to unravel beneath him.
Lindsay’s use of back-story to explain Dexter’s beginnings is spare but effective, and the other characters are mostly effortlessly drawn with a great eye for detail – the observations that typify Captain Matthews and Vince Masouka in particular had me laughing out loud. The only real exception is Dexter’s sister, Deborah; we are assured on several occasions what a good cop she is, but she seems singularly unable to do anything on her own, running to Dexter every time any thinking is required. Granted, some of what Dexter comes up with is dependent on his own, uh, expertise, but his sister’s dependence on him to do her job for her grated with me. Thankfully, she is not around too frequently to spoil things.
Lindsay ties plot and character together with some truly outstanding writing, never losing sight of who Dexter is and what he is about; the fact that Dexter spends most of the novel at cross-purposes is also a lot of the fun here, and his own musings on the crimes being committed show uncommon bravery for a first time novelist. The book starts out of the gate so quickly that for the first 30 pages you are running to try and keep up, and Lindsay maintains a swift and effortless pace throughout as his prose veers joyously between the sublime (“Another huge new development was going to improve life for all of us by turning trees and animals into cement and old people from New Jersey”) and the delightfully ridiculous (“How bad could things be if my hair was neat?”).
All of which makes the flaws of the ending harder to bear, since Lindsay has proved himself considerably better than what he offers up. I’m not suggesting that there is an obvious better alternative, but the way it finishes feels rushed to me, as the predictability that he has staved off so well and for so long comes crashing in, leaving an unexpected sour taste after I closed the book. Lindsay is clearly a very gifted author, however, and on the strength of his creation here is most certainly a name to watch.
Just as in real life, popular fiction has always taught us that Killers are the bad guys of the world, whether their motives are for love, hatred, money, revenge or simply for bloodlust.
In popular fiction, the killer always loses and the good guy always wins.
But what if...what just IF the killer and the good guy are the same person?
Ask yourself that question and then dive into this dark and delicious tale of Dexter Morgan, a Miami based forensic specialist on blood analysis. A likeable and pleasant guy, charming and dedicated - but this is all a facade.
Dexter has always known he was different. Sociopathic, emotionless, and most unfortunately, he has a desire - a need - to kill. A true serial killer at heart he has learned to keep his murderous activities under control by choosing victims who have done wrong in the world (i.e. paedophiles, rapists, other murderers), killing them and carefully disposing of the bodies where they can never be found.
He's been content doing what he's doing for quite some time, and life is peachy, he's upbeat despite his rather dark thoughts, and he still manages to maintain a career, a girlfriend and a vague semblance of family with his sister.
However, life begins to change for Dexter as a killer who leaves bodies dismembered and strange little clues for Dexter to find, makes himself known.
A serial killer trying to find a serial killer proves more difficult when at least one of them is always two steps ahead.
This is a twisted story that is engrossing, darkly funny and imaginative. Dexter is the first serial killer characters I've ever read who remains likeable despite his dark deeds and inability to feel.
Somehow, the villain Dexter feels himself to be is the true hero of the story, and that's quite an achievement for the author to pull off.
on 28 May 2014
Review: Dexter Morgan is a serial killer serial killer. He’s also a forensic scientist for the Miami Police Departent and has a normal life outside of that. So one day, there’s a nother serial killer going round Miami, and this one is different. Instead of being one that Dexter can just take out quietly, this one wants to play.
I watched a couple of episodes of Dexter before another show took over my life, but I enjoyed what I saw, and will go back to it, because it’s intriguing, and I like reading source material of films/books that have been adapted, so I read this.
The most complex character is Dexter, a sociopath carrying a Dark Passenger. In order to sate the Dark Passenger and also to keep to his morals, Dexter follows the advice of his adoptive father, Harry, and only kills those who deserve it. I’d like to see more of him. Serial killers really should not be this likable.
Deb was my second favourite character. I like the fact that she’s really driven, and fights against the men’s misogynistic views of her, even when being put on the group of undercover police posing as hookers.
The mystery goes in lots of different directions, which I enjoy. At the end, when the reveal happens, it’s just a big… wait? Where do you come from? However, this does give us some good backstory, and also gives Dexter an extra side to explore later.
Overall: Strength 3 to what I hope is the start of a bloody good series
on 5 March 2015
this book, the first in a series, was adapted reasonably faithfully as these things go, into the first season of the television programme `Dexter'.
I understand that later Seasons of the TV programme did take a different direction from the books but at this stage they are sufficiently similar that some of what I say here also appears in my review of Dexter Season 1 in DVD/Blu Ray.
Both book and television programme are good. If you experience both it probably works better to see the programme first and then read the book, but on balance I think the book is better. In the book the author's often clever and witty turn of phrase adds something to the experience that is different from watching the programme. However, I shall not quote from it here as Dexter's asides in the book work less well taken out of context.
If I describe this excellent book it will sound worse than it is so please do not be put off from trying it.
Dexter, a forensic `blood splatter analyst' for the Miami Police, is a secret `controlled sociopath'.
A sociopath is a person with a currently untreatable mental condition whereby they have no conscience, remorse or sympathy to restrain selfish, destructive or violent impulses.
It is of course easy for someone like that to become a criminal and many do.
However, many others, the controlled sociopaths like Dexter, while realising they are different, learn to live mostly unnoticed among us, mimicking our behaviour so as not to stand out. Such people are restrained in their conduct not by any solid sense of morality or sympathy for others, but by learning that life is easier if they work within society's laws and morality; or at least, to seem to do so enough not to be caught.
In Dexter's case his adoptive father, a policeman, recognised early on that Dexter was a sociopath, but instead of disowning him taught him to direct his more violent and destructive impulses in a way that is, arguably, better both for Dexter and for society than if he had become a straight criminal. By night he secretly tracks down and eliminates murderers, rapists and such like he encounters in his day job as a scientist with the Miami Police Department, choosing those who are clearly guilty but who cannot be convicted under the law with all its procedural safeguards.
I know that probably sounds terrible, but, as I have said, it will sound worse than it is so please do not be put off from trying Dexter. Indeed while you might not expect to like a serial killer, you may well find you like Dexter.
There are two main women in Dexter's life: his shy, somewhat naïve girlfriend Rita and his policewoman sister Deborah (proper Biblical spelling of her name in the book, for some reason wrongly spelled Debra in the TV Series. She also has bigger breasts in the book!) Both of them care about Dexter but neither of them knows about his darker, secret life. Like many sociopaths, knowing most people could not take the truth about him, hiding in plain sight has become second nature to Dexter.
Anyone who becomes interested in the subject of controlled sociopaths may want to read.Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding In Plain Sight by Thomas. M. E. ( 2013 ) Paperback and her blog sociopathworld.com. She is a former assistant professor of law who is a diagnosed controlled sociopath herself. She found Dexter, while not 100% accurate, was pretty close.
on 25 March 2014
Fast paced and kept me wanting more. I understand after watching the first series of the TV show that the book is pretty different to it. Some people don't like this and actually berate the book for it. I actually found that I like both for totally different reasons.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter, was written well, I thought it was going to be harder to read than it was. The fact that it is all from Dexter's pov means that you get more of his humor and a bit more knowledge behind what he does and why.
If you want something humorous but with dark sides, I highly recommend this book, but please do not expect it to be word for word like the TV series, you will be highly disappointed otherwise.
Dexter is a blood spatter analyst working closely with the Miami Police. However, in his spare time he kills people (but only those who have committed horrible crimes themselves.) In this novel prostitutes are being found mutilated and murdered around Miami, and once Dexter has got over his admiration for the killer's `work' he decides to help his sister (a cop) to catch him and get her a well-deserved promotion.
I think that I may have been lucky that by missing the recent television series, I have nothing to compare the novel to. The first person narration in this novel is what really makes it so great , I still find it difficult to comprehend that I really liked Dexter even knowing the horrible things that he does! I think I will also remember this book as being more graphically violent than it actually is, as Lindsay manages to suggest quite a lot and leaves your brain to fill in the gaps.
The only slight problem I have is that Dexter will only kill bad men and yet still admires the work of a killer who targets prostitutes. I know this is a work of fiction, but I am getting a little tired of prostitutes being regarded as inherently bad people and therefore fodder for serial killers. In such an imaginative novel, he could have done something better.
What a very original book this is. Dexter is the adopted son of a policeman. The brother of a policewoman. And he works for the forensic dept in the Miami police force. So, is he on the side of law and order? Well, kind of. He's a serial killer and a very good one, in that he hasn't (so far) been caught. And he only kills bad guys, so that's all right. Well, it's all right with me. I have to say that I liked Dexter, and I think most readers will agree with me. Beautiful character, so well written and screaming for sequels! So nice to have great humour and most of the words coming directly from Dexter's mind. A thriller that isn't written like a movie script - whoopee! Loved it. Have ordered the next book. Will order them all - keep writing, please. Do yourself a favour, buy this and be entertained by a fabulous author.
on 18 September 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a nice easy read, and flows well. Having read a number of the other reviews, I get the feeling that the readers were expecting something quite different to what they got. Well I think it's a shame they didn't take it for what it was.
The alliteration made me smile, and the fact that Dexter is so confident until he starts thinking that he could be responsible for all the carnage, and then worries that he's losing the plot is very funny. And I liked the fact that Dexter had to explain it all to Deborah, as how could she possibly be expected to understand - she's just a normal human, and doesn't have a Dark Passenger to explain it all to her. I love how she trusts Dexter to tell her the truth, but is a little wary of him because he knows so much!
I didn't see the TV series, as I'm currently on a work assignment in Malaysia for a year. It sounds like I should be glad I read the book first, though, as I didn't have preconceived ideas of the character and so came to it fresh. I will try to watch the TV series when I get a chance, though, as the adverts did look good (it started about the time I left the UK).
on 16 September 2013
I loved Dexter the series, but having watched it the book is a complete let down. All credit to the people who made a fairly clunky and disjointed book, on a weird subject, into such a compelling TV series!
The characters are different, so it doesn't really work reading the book afterwards. Also, I suspect it was a shock to see the series having read the book. So I'd suggest indulging in one or the other and, very unusually for me, my preference is the TV version. And if you've watched that already, the books is one to avoid.