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Paolo Bacigalupi

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Darkly Dreaming Dexter  - Jeff Lindsay Dude. Best serial killer book I've read in a while. Funny, creepy, yet not horrifying in the way that American Psycho is. What can I say - I'm much more engaged by a book that is a rollicking good mystery combined with a creepy-funny narrative voice versus a meditation on American society in the 80s combined with a creepy-funny-creepy narrative voice.

I'll admit I first picked up this book because I want to watch the Showtime series, and I'm a book-before-movie kinda gal. (Everyone at work is watching the show, and I want to be one of the Cool Kids.) Therefore, Michael C. Hall's face and voice were very much in my head the whole time.

Doesn't matter. Dexter is, well. Dexter. Deeply distinctive Dexter. Detached drama queen Dexter. Devilishly droll Dexter. One of the best first person narrations I've read in a long time, and I think the author does a v. good job of being internally consistent with Dexter.

In many ways, mysteries rely on deeply human motivations, passions, emotions, etc., which the author has deliberately removed from Dexter. What delights me about this book is how the author still manages to fit Dexter into that paradigm without giving Dexter a sudden fit of human compassion. The rules are the rules from the beginning to the end, and there's no wavering.


Ultimately, you can't have Dexter kill Deborah and a) have most readers not throw the book across the room and 2) not kill all his funny with real, legitimate creepy. I quite like the perfect little deadly diorama (couldn't think of a third D word) at the end, with the dichotomy (ha!) between Dexter's siblings, between nature and nurture if you will, between Dexter's creepy and Dexter's funny. It's a very fine balance between the two, setting up Dexter's serial killeritude and keeping him relatable enough to a) be a sympathetic character and 2) fit within the shape of a mystery novel and not just have Dexter go, "Wheeee!" and kill everyone.

I do wish that there was a bit more plausibility to the idea that Dexter himself could be committing the murders, but I'm not sure how you do that and still tell the story. The whole following-the-van bit pretty much negated the possibility that Dexter was doing it for me, so that element of mystery felt a bit overplayed to me.

I like that Brian came out of nowhere, that it was not unsurprising that Dexter's Mysterious Past was involved in some way, but the way in which Dexter really was the focus of it all was unexpected. The gun was on the mantle, but it was only tangentially referenced, and you don't know it's a shotgun until you're staring down its barrels.

I'm not sure I buy the series' general premise, even fictionally - horrifying childhood trauma = soulsucking serial killeritude - but, again, I like that it's consistent. I like that the way Dexter expresses the closest thing he feels to affection is through rigid adherence to Harry's code, in its delicious logic to him.

Some of the narration is a little overblown - here, have another moon metaphor! and Dark Passenger - but it fits in a lot of ways. The root of pretentious is pretense, so it makes perfect sense that Dexter is a blooming little font of pretentiosity. His self-awareness of that is what takes him from irritating to backwardly charming.

Now I just need to fix my computer's sound card so I can watch season one on demand through netflix....