Okay, dude, this not-killer takes the cake. I think this may
be the most gruesome, horrifying torture I can think of. It's the taking of the eyelids and propping them in front of a mirror, in addition to reducing a human being to a torso, that really cranks it to eleven. There's something viscerally terrifying about not being able to close your eyes. (Explains a bit about A Clockwork Orange, too, eh?)
I was somewhat more frustrated by the mystery surrounding this killer (or not) than with the one in the first book, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. The backstory felt, I don't know. Skimpy. Dodgy. Which it was supposed
to, but it lacked a little je ne sais quoi. Maybe the first one did, too, but the personal ties and broader narrative structure tying those killings to Dexter made it much easier to overlook. The hazard, I suppose, of a second book following a similar format to the first, but you can't have every
killer be related to Dexter. The author stuck the landing but maybe didn't nail all the technical elements along the way. (No sit spin?)
Two things stuck out for me in this book, and my enjoyment of both probably says nothing good about my mental state. :D One, I love that the author really went through with mutilating Doakes, getting him out of Dexter's way, and having Dexter show no remorse and even glee over Doakes' rather grisly demise. It's part of the cleverness of these novels that you (me?) genuinely want
Dexter to be free to go torture the child molesters. What make the whole thing marvelously distressing is that in many ways, Doakes is the flip-coin of Dexter, and in many ways, you can't help but sympathize with his impulses, just as much as you sympathize with Dexter. But Dexter does not
sympathize, even as he understands, and so he is gleeful at Doakes's fate.
The second is my somewhat bizarre happiness that Cody likes to kill things and Astor likes to watch, so Dexter has kids, in his own special way. I like that Dexter is going to have someone(s) who get
him, in a way I don't think he's ever had. It's hard to get that upswell of not-aloneness with Brian for Dexter, because he came out of nowhere, and because in many ways he wants to take away Dexter's agency by trying to force him to kill Deborah when he doesn't really want to (which apparently I have an issue with, but not that of the ice rink murders? okay, maybe I am
creepier than I thought!). Cody and Astor aren't demanding anything of Dexter, just understanding. And that makes me feel good for Dexter.
In short, I guess I like how the author can provoke a genuine positive emotional reaction (yay! Dexter has small children to mentor!) even as that positivity is conflicted (he's going to mentor them in the proper way to kill people!)
Oh, vigilante justice taken to its quasi-logical conclusion. I bet Batman confuses the hell
out of Dexter.