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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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After book 3 dipped somewhat, it left me wondering if the Dexter book theme had run its course and was it worth reading book 4. The season of Dexter had finished and left me wanting more, so I took to the book to fill the void. It is an improvement on the 3rd book, with the development f Astor and Cody and certainly brings the book back in line with the same quality as the first few books.

Newly married Dexter returns from his honeymoon in Paris and settles down into his new married life, comfortable and content. The dark passenger, however, is not so content and starts to get restless. As it happens, a new serial killer emerges who is making killing an art form and it is up to Dexter to protect Miami from these monsters. This time around Astor and Cody are dragged into this dark world and the end of the book leaves Dexter with some shocking news.
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on 26 July 2015
If you're only familiar with Dexter from the television series I would advise reading the books in order as they follow on from each other logically.

Assuming you've read the earlier books in the series I would recommend this one. The Design in the title is, I suspect, inspired by the designs of the bodies found by the Miami police: body parts have been removed and been replaced by (to give just one example) a flower arrangement. Dexter goes on the hunt for the killer so his "dark passenger" can do what is necessary.

The dark passenger has a surprisingly small number of outings in this story (which is possibly the reason for some of the one and two-star reviews) but this is made up for by other aspects in the story: Deborah's knowledge of her brother's secret and the dilemma it causes her (loyalty to family or to the law?) and Dexter's training of his adopted children's dark passengers.

In summary, the story line is developing rather than each book being a clone of its predecessor. If you enjoyed the earlier books I expect you will enjoy this one.
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on 11 February 2015
I’ve started watching the TV show of Dexter recently. I was under the impression that each series followed one book (I couldn’t have been more wrong as it turned out…but that’s a post for another time), so I had decided to let myself watch up to series 4, but no further until I had read the next book. So as I was drawing to the end of series three I bought book four- Dexter By Design.

The previous book, Dexter in the Dark had been disappointing for me. I’m used to Dexter books having certain qualities and Dexter in the Dark was low on those qualities.

With Dexter by Design it certainly picked up again. Back to the strange and rather gruesome murders- this time with murders as ‘art’. All I can say is be prepared to get grossed out! In particular one of the first scenes seems really…oh I’m just shuddering thinking about it.

As it so often seems Dexter had attracted some attention from the killer (doesn’t it seem strange that other killers seem to recognise Dexter but ‘normal’ people don’t?). So, with a new family, should Dexter be more cautious?

It’s the usual fast pace that I expect from Dexter, but there is also a more emotional element which we didn’t get in the past. I suppose you could say we can see Dexter growing.

Actually possibly the best Dexter I’ve read so far.
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on 2 October 2009
I have to agree with what other reviewers have said about book 3 being the worst of the series. When I was reading it I just couldn't get into it as well as the other 3 books. I am glad that Jeff Lindsay decided to go back to the style of writing of the first two books for his fourth.

"By Design" had me hooked from the first chapter and as always there are a few laughs from Dexter's humour throughout the book.

Astor and Cody are mentioned in this book a lot more than in the other books and seeing as what the author is doing with these two characters is very interesting and on more than one occasion I found some of the things these characters done quite amusing.

By the time I had got to the end of the book it just had me wanting more.

Can't wait for the next in the series.
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on 4 April 2009
Oh, how I waited impatiently for this book to appear. Having discovered Dexter through the TV series, and then moved on to the books and found them superior, the prospect of the fourth novel was almost too much to cope with and remain sane.

And how good it felt to start reading, especially as the supernatural angle of the previous one had gone and we were back to the slighly baroque and surrealistic world of Dexter's powerful brain. And even laugh out loud moments with Doakes' talking computer. A great and wonderfully over the top story began to unfold.

All was going well until the last few pages and......... what the hell happened, Jeff? A pointless excursion to Cuba, and a rushed and frankly camp finale that gave the impression our man had no real idea of how to finish off his story. And the loose ends! Debs in psycho logical limbo, videos and other incriminatory evidence left out where the Police would eventually come across it if they did even a cursory investigation of the bad guy, and Dexter somehow getting over a bloodlust without indulging himself.

I still look forward to number 5, but I hope it will be better plotted out than this one which promised so much for 90% of the story. Please Jeff, don't go the way of Tom Clancy and start skimping us.
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on 3 August 2009
Dexter by Design

What has happened to the masterful, methodical and cunning artiste that was Dexter Morgan? The storyline for Dexter's most recent outing simply didn't work for me. It appeared haphazard and at times much too forced.

Dexter, accompanied by his Dark Passenger, takes only one singular excursion throughout the entire novel and even then it's more fast food than a gourmet meal.

The closing scene was more reminiscent of a British Carry On movie than a Dexter Classic.

One of the strongest features of the previous novels was the manner in which Dexter performed his `good' deeds with total anonymity. By the end of this latest outing it seems that the world and his wife, either know about his dark side or suspect that one exists.

If you are a fan of Dexter, be prepared to be disappointed - then you won't be!
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on 25 February 2014
I enjoyed this and i loved the story and how even the beginning before it had properly got in to it it linked in a running theme it carried through to the end, book 3 i found hard to wrap my head around but this one was very clear and better written, i will be moving on to book 5 to what is probably another impressive read just like this was.
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on 13 December 2014
Finally secondary characters come to life. Everything feels upside down. It's so hilarious, sardonic and full of irony that the next book felt boring. Jeff Lindsay wrote a book that it's too good to have a follow-up. I keep re-reading it from time to time
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on 17 March 2009
As this, the fourth Dexter novel, opens, our anti-hero is on honeymoon in Paris, Dark Passenger in tow. He and Rita, the new Mrs Dexter, visit an art exhibition where one of the exhibits is a performance piece in which a young woman saws off her own leg. And with this macabre performance, we are firmly back in Dark Passenger territory. Back in Miami, several bodies are found, artistically arranged. And so, the hunt is on, as Dexter allows his Dark Passenger to lea him to his own brand of justice.

Events move on in this book: several of Dexter's colleagues begin to suspect there is more to our hero than meets the eye, and the antagonist seems intent in exposing Dexter's secret to the world. The question of what someone would do if they found out such a terrible secret about a close friend or relative has been hovering over the last couple of books in this series, and this novel provides a few clues, if no definite answers.

Over all, Dexter by Design is a fine, page-turning novel, but i was less than taken with it. The problem for me is that everything seems over-the-top, highly unrealistic, as though Lindsay is having to reach for increasingly baroque plot twists just to keep up with the basic premise of the sympathetic serial-killer. This aside, however, the novel is a well-written piece of nonsense, not at all graphic, and very witty in places; like another reviewer, I laughed out loud once or twice.
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Now that the supernatural mumbo jumbo of the third book is in the past, this book is more in alignment with the first two books. It not quite of the same caliber, as some of it feels too contrived. Still, fans of Dexter will rejoice that there is a fourth book and find it enjoyable.

Dexter has now married the clearly clueless Rita, gone to Paris on his honeymoon, and returned home, a devoted father to Astor and Cody, only to find himself embroiled in a hunt for a madman who is displaying dead bodies in a very decorative fashion. These human dioramas are aimed at putting a crimp on the tourism industry of Miami.

When someone close to Dexter nearly bites the dust in the hunt for this newest "artist" on the Miami scene, Dexter loses control and does the unthinkable. He violates the code of Harry. Consequently, the hunter becomes the hunted.

I enjoyed this book, though not quite as much as the first two, but certainly way more than the third. I am also a huge fan of the cable series based upon the character of Dexter, and it has now surpassed the books on many levels. Still, I look forward to the author's next book on America's most beloved serial killer.
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