Book review: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

3/5 stars.

Well, this was not as bad as I had expected.. Not an auspicious beginning for a book review, I know. But the book does start out rather weirdly, perhaps particularly if you’re familiar with the Dexter from the Showtime TV series.

I loved the TV series (at least the first few seasons, but don’t get me started on the finale – probably the most disappointing ending ever), and in my head Dexter is the actor Michael C. Hall, so I already felt a little iffy about reading the books after seeing the series. I know the books came first, but when you haven’t read it first, things can often get a little weird. But I had the first three in one big paperback lying around, and I figured I should give it another try.

The beginning is quite frankly kind of off-putting. It’s very poetic and kind of out there – it just completely clashed with the Dexter I know and love. But after getting past the first chapter the writing style was toned down a little and I felt at least I could read it without becoming distracted by bits about howling at the blood moon and such.

The storyline is mainly the same as the first season of the TV show, with the ending being a notable exception (the same sort of happens in the show but much, much later).

It was OK. I feel it relied too heavily on the psychic connection between Dexter and the killer, and it was more a matter of Dexter’s subconscious solving the mystery rather than clues and investigation leading to a conclusion. There is some of this in the series as well, but to a lesser extent. As such I also found it less exciting (it may not have helped that I knew more or less how it was going to end) because it’s just not something you can think along with and make your own guesses and observations.

Perhaps weirdly I also found the book to be more graphic and detailed in its descriptions of abuse and vulgarity. There’s a fair amount of blood spatter in the TV show, but it’s still easier to stomach. I also don’t remember there being so much talk about children being abused, but it’s been a few years and I may be repressing. I started reading the second book as well, but it was even worse in this respect and I found it too much – for me it’s just not worth it.

So overall this was not really my thing. I guess if you like descriptions of people being cut up and are willing to go with the flow of the mind of the serial killer and accept that  Dexter just knows what’s happening and where to go, you might enjoy this, but I wouldn’t really recommend it otherwise.

The show based on the books is pretty good though, but I wish I’d kept my resolve and stopped after season 3. Even though there were a few more good stories I felt it went a bit off the rails after that point,  and like previously mentioned: worst. ending. ever!



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