Jeff Lindsey’s Dexter

I logged on to Amazon today and was greeted with “NEW FOR YOU: Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsey”

And now I find myself faced with a dilemma: Do I buy this book? Do I read this book? And although I feel a tug of loyalty to this series, I think the answer is, sadly, no.

I guess I have a lot of disappointment about this book series in general. As an avid fan of the Dexter tv show, I suspect I went into the series with blown-out-of-proportion expectations. It’s not that the books are bad, in fact, they are enjoyable reads. They just aren’t fantastic, and the tv show is fantastic. And because the tv show uses the books more as inspiration rather than a word-for-word depiction, it is perhaps more realistic and more actualized than the novels. And for as much as I would love to say Oh, yea the books are SOOO much better, they just aren’t.

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1. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsey – Definately a good start to the series. Lindsey’s strength lies in his ability to create vastly different characters. Each character has a distinct voice and personality; it is easy to identify who is speaking when. Lindsey’s ability to give life to such engaging characters really pulls readers into the novel. However, while Lindsey created a fun, fast-moving story line, I did feel that book lost steam about halfway through. I expected to feel more rushes of adrenaline as the Tamiami Butcher’s identity was uncovered, however I felt the “big reveal” lacked some excitement. I also didn’t think the conclusion was very plausible, especially Deb’s reaction to her brother, Dexter. Season 1 most closely follows this first novel, with the “Ice Truck Killer” of show replacing the “Tamiami Bucther” of the book. The other seasons tend to branch off into their own creative story lines, using the books and the series as a muse.

2. Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsey – Now this is, by far, my favorite novel of the series. If you are going to read a Dexter novel, I would recommend you start here. Usually I would recommend starting at the beginning of any series, but these novels are written in such a way that the first book is not needed to understand the second. Much more gruesome and dark than the first, this novel explores the twisted mind and world of a doctor driven mad by war. It also focuses much of its attention on Sargent Doakes’ character, by far my favorite ancillary character. Doakes’ fate is marvelously depicted and hideously grotesque, which makes it all the more fun, especially from Dexter’s stand point. My only complaint is that, yet again, Lindsey takes the book in strange directions that detract from the excitement of the story. First, a secret government agent, ex-Army Ranger operative comes off as amateurish and naive, making his character hard to believe. Second, there is a huge, pointless trip to Cuba that adds no value to the characters, or plot, or novel as a whole. In fact, I wish I had just skipped the entire Cuba portion of the book.

3. Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsey – Terrible! Awful! Don’t read it! I forced myself to finish this book, hoping it would get better, much to my bitter disappointment. Here Lindsey takes an implausible turn into the super natural world. Think demons and demonic possession and religious cults and an unnecessary exploration of the origin of Dexter’s “Dark Passenger”. While this book incorporates Astor and Cody, Rita’s children, into the novel in quite nicely, I was frustrated by Cody’s participation in the final showdown. Not that it didn’t seem realistic within the scope of the series, but it’s one of those potential vaccuum creating moments…you know the kind where you wonder how the author will dig himself out of the hole he’s created?

4. Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsey – A refreshing recovery from the debacle of the third book, I think this novel is my second favorite of the series. I much enjoyed Lindsey’s conceptualization of art and performance art. Even though several aspects of the art weren’t medically sound, Lindsey’s writing was highly convincing and highly entertaining. Again, I felt somewhat let down by the end, but overall it was a decent read.

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So to summarize: Jeff Lindsey writes masterful characters and novels with quick moving plots that lose steam and convincibility as they draw towards their conclusion.

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