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Darkly Dreaming Dexter    by Jeff Lindsay order for
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
by Jeff Lindsay
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

The opening pages of Darkly Dreaming Dexter effectively grab the reader's attention. Dexter Morgan narrates his own, quick-paced story. Dexter is neat, smart, humorous, well organized, and cringes at the sight of blood. Even so, he is a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Dade Police Department, with a knack for profiling killers. Dexter's credo is, 'I don't do my job to catch the bad guys ... I do my job to make order out of chaos.' Dexter is handsome, charming, and a gentleman, who nevertheless is indifferent to women. His friend Rita and her two children suit Dexter's social life. Extremely brutalized by her now-in-jail ex-husband, the badly damaged Rita does not expect much from Dexter, nor does he in return.

Dexter's adoptive parents Harry (also a Miami cop) and Doris Morgan died a while ago. Harry recognized that his son was 'different', encouraging Dexter to 'be choosy, neat, and tidy with your victims' -- 'the Harry code'. Harry often asked Dexter if he remembered life before his adoption at four years of age, but there are no memories ... yet! His foster-sister, Deborah Morgan, is a cop on the Miami Vice Squad. Currently assigned to an undercover sting operation, Deb walks the street as a prostitute. There have been four prostitutes killed within a short time span. When a fifth murder occurs on Deb's 'beat', she sees an opportunity to move up to the Homicide Division, if she can solve the murders of the 'Tamiami Butcher'. Deb's progress is impeded by unlikable detective-in-charge Migdia LaGuerta.

Lovable Dexter is a sociopath serial killer of carefully chosen victims - those who have done wrong. The 'faces' of Dexter are calls from within - 'Darling Dexter, 'The Need', 'The Dark Passenger', 'The Avenger', and 'the laughing watcher' direct his movements, entering his dreams. Dexter's activities are meticulously, well-planned in advance. During a roaring wind on a reddish moonlight, tropical night, 'The Thing' comes out to play. Dexter waits for Father Donovan to enter the car, reaches over the seat and places a rope around his neck, directing the priest to drive to an abandoned house. There are holes dug in the yard and bodies of children laid out on the house floor. Father Donovan has been bad! When Dexter needs to regroup and refresh, his solitary boat rides provide a once-in-a-while Zen state - 'thinking nothing'.

When a second serial killer makes an appearance in Miami, Dexter is intrigued by the perpetrator's style - the victims are prostitutes, dismembered, but bloodless, with body parts packaged in separate disposal bags. More bodies are found, and Deb pleads with Dexter to help her solve the murders, especially to determine why the victims are bloodless and so clean. Could it be a cold case - refrigeration perhaps? When Dexter arrives home one evening, he senses that someone has been there. In the kitchen he finds a Barbie doll's head attached to the refrigerator, and the rest of the doll's body parts in the freezer. About his competitor Dexter wonders, 'Is the killer trying to tell me something?'

Lindsay's debut novel offers the reader a very original serial killer story, and an out-of-the-ordinary psycho thriller. Follow Dexter Morgan through his modus operandi step-by-step. A weather forecast according to Dexter, 'Another beautiful Miami day. Mutilated corpses with a chance of afternoon showers.' You will be entertained and amazed by Darkly Dreaming Dexter ... and, you might want to use caution the next time you enter a hockey arena.

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