I’ve never seen the television show, but a friend recently lent me the first two books about the lovable blood spatter analyst who moonlights as a killer of serial killers. Entertainingly written, great premise, and buckets of innovative gore, but I thought there were a few too many staggering coincidences holding the plot together. Plus I’m having a bit of trouble with the title character.

My problem is this. Dexter is presented as totally amoral and without emotion, yet he inexplicably loves kids and cares deeply about his foster sister. It seems like his ability to care about people fluctuates to fit the requirements of the story. I really would have preferred him to be completely without emotion of any kind. Couldn’t the author give him some other, purely logical reason to want to go out of his way to help his sister all the time? The loving kids business seems even less logical and the character even says so more than once, which to me is kind of a cop out. The whole thing seems shoe-horned in order to set up his bonding with the pre-homicidal son of his fiancée.

I also don’t quite understand why his foster father was so strict in teaching him to only hunt those who deserve it, yet he was fine with Dexter’s early experimentation on pets. Of course, torturing pets does fit perfectly with the character of an amoral serial killer and “liking” Dexter as a person is not necessary for me to enjoy the books. (Though I’m amazed that something like animal torture for fun, especially by a first person protagonist with whom the reader is supposed to sympathize, would get an OK from the publisher. I’ve always been told that’s a big no-no.) I just thought it was odd that the strictly moral foster father character would have been ok with it and even encouraged it.

The second book hinted that Dexter would soon be instructing a young protégé in the art of animal torture and killing. Regardless of whether or not it makes sense in the context of the characters, I probably won’t be rushing out to pick that one up. My own personal moral code puts the value of dogs’ lives high above the lives of humans.

Still, I guess I did enjoy reading the first two in a silly potato-chip sort of way. Anyone else read them? What do you guys think? How about the show? Is it worth renting?

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Comment by Merrill Young on August 19, 2007 at 2:33am
I've read both books, but not watched the series.
It was definately the humour that kept me reading. I can forgive a lot plotwise, so inconsistancies
don't bother me much.
What I found interesting is how Lindsay drew me into a protag and plot that I would normaly find repellant. ("I can't believe I'm still reading this book")
I remember having the same response to Stuart McBrides Cold Granite.Will I read another Dexter? Yep, out of curiousity to see what he does with the characters.
And as an aside, did anyone else use alliterative sig lines for weeks after reading the book?
-Mostly musing Merlot
Comment by Daniel Hatadi on August 18, 2007 at 8:36pm
I've read both and enjoyed the first novel. Yes, dodginess abounds but for some reason I didn't mind it. I guess because it's leaning more towards the comedy side of things I don't expect as much logic in the character development. The second novel repeated far too much from the first and I didn't like it anywhere near as much.

The series is a different beast, though. They put more effort into fleshing out some of the side characters and some of the stories are quite touching. The same dodginess is present, but I'd definitely check out at least the first episode or two, if only for the perfect casting of the main character. The actor is in Six Feet Under and has a great balance between creepiness and likeability.

Just make sure you have plenty of potato chips on hand.

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