100 Books in a Year: Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsey
(Note, this review will contain spoilers for the three Dexter BOOKS. The books and television series had divergent plots from the first season on, so it’s unlikely that these would be spoilers for the TV series.)
Dexter in the Dark is the third installment in Jeff Lindsey’s Dexter series. It strays from the previous Dexter books by introducing a new narrative voice unrelated to Dexter, which I thought broke up the narrative and not always in a good way. I also found it significantly darker than the previous books due to the increased attention paid to Astor and Cody as characters and their involvement in the case that Dexter is working on in the book. (Last warning; if you really don’t want spoilers for either of the Dexter novels, you really want to stop reading now.)
The book starts off with a nameless formless narrator who refers to itself as IT observing the process of evolution. IT retraces it’s own history as the hub of all sociopathic tendencies which the book draws as existing separate from their hosts. In fact, in this book, Dexter actually loses his “Dark Passenger” for a significant portion of the story. This was my least favorite part of the book; I hate the need in current literature to explain away monsters or rationalize evil. Dexter in the books has always struck me with a cold detachment that was more sinister and frightening that anything he did to his victims. By presenting his sociopathic tendencies as an outside force rather than something that is genuinely a part of him, the character is neutered in a way. I know that not everyone feels the same way as me, but I prefer my monsters without sense, without reason, without redeeming qualities. It’s why I never watched or read Hannibal Rising and was disappointed enough that I’d read Hannibal.
Anyway, the rest of the story is concerned with Dexter and Deborah investigating ritualized cult related killings that begin on the University of Miami campus (The U! Represent!). It also traces Dexter’s impending marriage to Rita and his efforts to start Astor and Cody, who revealed their own sociopathic tendencies at the end of the last book, on Harry’s Code. His training of the children is probably the most disturbing part of the book and the most promising ongoing plot for any future books. It does make my skin crawl to think about a 10 year old and 7 year old who want to kill people, but it’s the closest Dexter is ever going to come to a real human connection and it’s interesting to see him try and replicate the lessons he learned from someone who DID have an emotional connection to him. Of course, given Astor and Cody’s increased involvement in the story, they inevitably become entangled in the case Dexter is working and are placed in harm’s way. Neither of them are hurt, though.
Dexter in the Dark is a mostly quick read and solid installment in the Dexter series. I got bogged down in the history of IT, but otherwise I enjoyed the story line and the way Lindsey brought in an ancient religion as the basis for the murderous cult rather than making one up.
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