Jeff Lindsay really found his ideal character in Dexter Morgan and he can write him really well – to a point where you have a continuous narrative and a character that does not stray outside of his well defined psychotic self.

Dexter is filled with witty comments about everyone and everything, can make you smile with delight as he complains about the Miami traffic or the money-grabbing attitude of tourist locations or can make you groan when he does stupid things like click on a link in an email from an unknown sender.

“I sighed; as comforting as it may be to some of us, sarcasm, like youth, is wasted on the young.”

The story

As he finished dismembering a clown who doubled down as a paedophile (not Pennywise), Dexter realises that he’d been spotted by the driver of a beaten-down Honda. While he tries to live his life in middle-class mediocrity, Dexter starts noticing that his passive witness is not so-passive anymore when he contacts him. The “Shadow” as he’s called, recognised Dexter from a TV interview with his sister and more than that, decides to kill him. But first, the “Shadow” disposes of his nagging wife and then of one of Dexter’s co-workers who just happened to have a crush on Dexter.
Suddenly Dexter becomes the prime suspect, and his marriage with Rita nearly ends due to claims of infidelity.

After a very mundane camping trip, Dexter eventually learns that his “Shadow” is now using the alias Doug Crowley, but cannot kill him because of Doakes and Hood’s surveillance.
He asks his brother, Brian, to do him a am, only for Brian to mistakenly kill the real Doug Crowley. Dexter takes his family on a trip to Key West, where Rita attends an auction of foreclosed houses; Hood and Bernard both follow. Bernard kills Hood and leaves him in Dexter’s hotel suite, then takes Astor and Cody to Garden Key. However, Dexter reaches the island first and manages to subdue Bernard with Astor’s help. Bernard is tossed overboard and is killed by a shark.

“I really am guilty, of many somethings, all of them lethal and very enjoyable and technically not quite legal.”

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Good Bits:

  • Dexter is definitely struggling to keep his private life and his family life separate and this is a close call for him as both his kids could have been killed.
  • It does portray an interesting aspect of the police – where on one side they are dedicated to catching criminals but are overzealous when all the evidence is circumstantial and on the second hand – allow children to be taken out of a Police station by an adult without checking with the parents whether that adult is OK.
  • The book teaches you about the dangers of opening links from unverified sources and I had to laugh when he said it used “Flash Player” – there haven’t been any flash sites since 2010 for exactly this reason – they are vulnerable.
  • The writing is sensuous and enticing at points and I found the conversations between Dexter and his brother, Brian, to be absolutely amazing, keeping me at the edge of the seat
  • There are talks about predators – be it sharks, bears and mosquitoes and it was just the right note to have another predator killed by one.
  • I liked the way he kept quoting “Daytime TV drama” as inspiration for his interactions with Rita

“But one of the things Dexter is truly good at is learning and following patterns of behavior. I have lived my life among humans, and they all think and feel and act in ways that are completely alien to me—but my survival depends on presenting a perfect imitation of the way they behave. Happily for me, ninety-nine percent of all human life is spent simply repeating the same old actions, speaking the same tired clichés, moving like a zombie through the same steps of the dance we plodded through yesterday and the day before and the day before. It seems horribly dull and pointless—but it really makes a great deal of sense. After all, if you only have to follow the same path every day, you don’t need to think at all. Considering how good humans are at any mental process more complicated than chewing, isn’t that best for everybody? So I learned very young to watch people stumbling through their one or two basic rituals, and then perform the same steps myself with flawless mimicry. This morning that talent served me well, because as I staggered out of bed and into the bathroom, there was absolutely nothing in my head except phlegm, and if I had not learned by rote what I was supposed to do each morning I don’t think I could have done it. The dull ache of a major cold had seeped into my bones and pushed all capacity for thinking out of my brain. ”

Bad Bits:

  • Rita is really, really annoying and her way of talking sounds disjointed at best.
  • Detective Doaxes is nothing more than teeth on wheels
  • Deborah does not appear in this book more than a handful of pages and when she does, she is either bored or outraged or both.
  • “…I found Deborah waiting for me, slumped into my chair and looking like the poster girl for the National Brooding Outrage Foundation.”