Tuesday, January 4, 2011

#1: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

All right, so welcome to the blog. This is my simple attempt to review every book I read for a year. This will, I hope, keep me from doing two things:
1. Soak up all the beer in town
2. Play World of Warcraft while doing #1

All reviews will be numbered in order.

If you have not watched the Showtime show Dexter, there is something wrong with you. Perhaps you do not have cable or Netflix. Perhaps stories about serial killers are not your thing. There was something wrong with me, sorry to say: of the books he show is based on, I had read none. Zero. So, when the wife brought home the first book from the library, I promptly stole it and addressed my ignorance.

Dexter is a subtle character. Charming, bright, witty. At one point in the text, describing a murder scene, he says "This sort of envy is not good for the soul. But since I have never had a soul..." No, this is no freak show vampire/werewolf/supernatural creature. This guy happens to be a blood spatter specialist for the Miami PD who just happens to murder people in his spare time. And when I say murder, this isn't some cheap .22 to the back of the head. This is a full on ritual dismembering of his victims. Did I mention they are wrapped in plastic?

Dexter, his sister and their fellow cops have to solve a string of murders going on in Miami, while the politics of the police force are bandied about for all to see. Only one cop thinks Dexter is not what he appears. All in all, a (insert regular adjectives here) thriller.

What is most important is the dual character of Dexter. Dexter has to hide what he calls the "Dark Passenger". While part of Dexter, it is most certainly an "other" in the strictest term. It is that part of ourselves that we want NO ONE to know about, especially family members and friends. On one level this book is about appearances and what we think people want from us. Will they hate us because we enjoy midget porn? Will they hate us because we really want to punch homeless folks when they ask us for money? Will they hate us because we want to steal that overpriced CD instead of buying it? We worry constantly about tipping our hands to people and coming up not being what we seem. Well, I do, anyway. So, we tell small lies, exaggerate stories and generally try to act a little more edgy than we are and are besieged by the constant small voice that calls bullshit on that co-worker who is just to chipper. There MUST be something wrong with that person! They are way to nice; they are so fake.

Dexter is good at many things that not many "normal" people are without being too chipper or too happy. His best skill is making small talk, which in turn convinces people he is a good guy or their friend. Echoes of the "he was always nice" or "well, he seemed like a good guy" syndrome that appears in the neighbors of serial killers when the cops start to take the bodies out of the crawlspace. I highly recommend this book.

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