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Darkly Dreaming Dexter: A Novel Hardcover – July 20, 2004

Book 1 of 8 in the Dexter Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Meet Dexter Morgan. He's a highly respected lab technician specializing in blood spatter for the Miami Dade Police Department. He's a handsome, though reluctant, ladies' man. He's polite, says all the right things, and rarely calls attention to himself. He's also a sociopathic serial killer whose "Dark Passenger" drives him to commit the occasional dismemberment.

Mind you, Dexter's the good guy in this story.

Adopted at the age of four after an unnamed tragedy left him orphaned, Dexter's learned, with help from his pragmatic policeman father, to channel his "gift," killing only those who deal in death themselves. But when a new serial killer starts working in Miami, staging elaborately grisly scenes that are, to Dexter, an obvious attempt at communication from one monster to another, the eponymous protagonist finds himself at a loss. Should he help his policewoman sister Deborah earn a promotion to the Homicide desk by finding the fiend? Or should he locate this new killer himself, so he can express his admiration for the other's "art?" Or is it possible that psycho Dexter himself, admittedly not the most balanced of fellows, is finally going completely insane and committing these messy crimes himself?

Despite his penchant for vivisection, it's hard not to like Dexter as his coldly logical personality struggles to emulate emotions he doesn't feel and to keep up his appearance as a caring, unremarkable human being. Breakout author Jeff Lindsay's plot is tense and absorbing, but it's the voice of Dexter and his reactions to the other characters that will keep readers glued to Darkly Dreaming Dexter, as well as making it one of the most original and highly recommended serial killer stories in a long time. --Benjamin Reese

From Publishers Weekly

It's been years since there's been a thriller debut as original as this one by Lindsay, who takes a tired subgenre-the serial-killer novel-and makes it as fresh as dawn. Lindsay's premise alone is worthy: narrator Dexter Morgan, a blood-spatter specialist for the Miami cops, is also a serial killer. But all his life, Dexter has followed the rules set down by his cop foster father (who knew of Dexter's proclivities), to indulge his passion only by slaying other serial killers. What makes this novel zing, though, is the narration-humorous, self-deprecating, smart and sometimes lyrical, it's a macabre fun ride ("I thought about the nice clothes that I always wore. Well of course I did. I took pride in being the best-dressed monster in Dade County"). The story opens with Dexter at play, kidnapping and killing a priest who has murdered a number of children, then moves on to the main plot, a series of gruesome killings of prostitutes by an unknown madman. Dexter's foster sister is a Miami Vice Squad cop working on the killings, so Dexter decides to help her solve the case. This puts him in conflict with a dumb but ambitious female homicide detective as well as, soon enough, the killer himself, whose approach to serial killing mirrors Dexter's own, uncomfortably so. Might Dexter himself be the culprit? The answer feels a bit contrived, but will surprise most readers, and it's a minor flaw in a gripping, deliciously offbeat novel that announces the arrival of a notable new talent.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dexter
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (July 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038551123X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385511230
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (786 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JEFF LINDSAY is the author of Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter. He lives in Florida with his wife and children.

Customer Reviews

I had watched a couple of the Dexter tv shows and thought the book series has to be fantastic......and the first one is!!!
S. Walker
I loved being able to be inside Dexter's mind through the entire story, and getting to feel like I was really getting to know him.
Kittie
I also feel he goes into detail a bit too much at times (often repeating himself) and seems to be done just to lengthen the book.
Loregnum

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

279 of 301 people found the following review helpful By Melissa N. VINE VOICE on May 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I usually don't read crime novels, but I'm a big fan of the Showtime series "Dexter," and I wanted to read the novel the show is based on. "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" is the first installment of Jeff Lindsay's series about Dexter Morgan, a serial killer with a conscience. Dexter routinely kills and dismembers people in and around Miami, but unlike other serial killers, Dexter has a strict moral code that he struggles to adhere to: Basically, he only kills bad guys. Dexter struggles to keep his dark side under wraps by working as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department, hanging out with his foster sister, and even having a girlfriend. However, he always succumbs to his "Dark Passenger" and cannot suppress the urge to kill. When a new serial killer begins preying on Miami hookers, Dexter becomes intrigued by his new colleague and is intent on connecting with the murderer, even if it means exposing his own dark secrets.

This book was pretty good. Unlike most crime novels, which I usually think are very poorly written, "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" is composed of a blend of dark humor, intense drama, mystery and suspense, and good old-fashioned blood and gore. I was pleasantly surprised by how much content from the book was used in Season 1 of the television series "Dexter." There are some big differences between the book and the TV show, though. The "Tamiami Butcher" is referred to as the "Ice Truck Killer" in the TV show. The characters of Angel Batista, Vince Masuka, and James Doakes are relatively minor characters in the novel and are featured much more prominently in the television series. Migdia LaGuerta (who is called Maria LaGuerta in the show) is a supporting character in the novel, but is even nastier in the book that she is in the series, if you can believe that.
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209 of 232 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Here's the deal: a good book writes its own review, triggering sufficient spontaneity to fill the page without reaching for bits of interest; this is one of those books, pushing aside all those mundane summer novels, leaving the reader with a satisfying, "Ah."
The attractively ghoulish protagonist is a sociopath and a murderer, but one with a "conscience", unfortunately an asset as manufactured as his other feelings. But Dexter does his best, given the circumstances. Brilliant and introspective, Dexter charms from the first page, even while distracted, dismembering his latest victim. What makes Dexter's extra-curricular activity bearable is the reason he kills: Dexter only chooses victims who have perpetrated foul deeds, those who would continue harming innocents if not stopped. To be honest, who hasn't secretly applauded the occasional vigilante who takes justice in his own hands, balancing the scales a bit?
Essentially passionless in his pursuit of evil-doers, Dexter is an elegant ghoul, fascinated by blood, the essence of human life. With the self-control of a recently sated vampire, Dexter is intelligent and thorough in his murderous pursuits. Like Rice's Vampire Lestat, this more human predator has a dark, romantic appeal, his dispassionate regard for "necessary" murders seductive and curiously erotic.
Dexter spends his days as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Dade PD, the perfect job for keeping up with current crime scenes and maintaining a cover, not to mention the chance to troll for other deserving victims. Lurking behind his public self, Dexter is as secure as a serial killer can be. Until another killer shows up, perfectly modeling Dexter's MO.
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112 of 125 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on July 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Jeff Lindsay's first novel is gruesome but fascinating in a Silence-of-the-Lambs sort of way (the narrator, who is trying to catch the serial killer, is himself a serial killer). Dexter is a blood-spatter technician with the Miami PD, a perfect job for someone who cuts live people up as a hobby, I suppose!

Relative to Hannibal, Dexter is actually fairly likeable, and the reader finds him/herself strangely "on Dexter's side" as he simultaneously admires and tries to find the killer.

Lindsay has a real knack for plotting; the book moves very swiftly. The end result is the best thriller in ages, and I'm sure we'll see more of Dexter in sequels very soon.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Bucherwurm on September 4, 2004
Format: Audio CD
We've had quadriplegic detectives, drunken PIs, little old lady investigators, ethically challenged policemen, and a myriad other crime solvers who have various physical and mental quirks. So how can we come up with a new and unique expert crime investigator? Well, why hasn't anyone ever thought of it before, a police department employee who solves serial killer crimes, and is himself a serial killer? As the eminent Thomas Henry Huxley said after reading Darwin's new book on evolution in 1859, "Why didn't I think of that.?"

Our hero (?) is Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter specialist with the Miami police department. Dexter murders people in his free time, and happily admits that he is a sociopath, and, in his own terms, is really not quite human. Though he has a girlfriend, for the sake of appearances, he has no sexual desires, and is incapable of love. He does care for his sister who is a cop, and decides to help her find a serial killer. It's really difficult for him to do this, as he greatly admires the technique of the man he sets out to apprehend.

How on earth can we God fearing readers identify with a sociopathic killer, and wish him well? Well, for one thing, he is often quite witty, and that goes a long way with me. And he isn't a boozer or a womanizer -in fact he rejects the advances of a female detective-, and those are kind of good traits I guess. He is also a pretty good sleuth as well he should be, having the same hobby as the man he is chasing.

I was a little disappointed in how things worked out, as the author injects a bit of farfetchedness into the final part, but this is the first of a series, and I am looking forward to the next book. I am also booking a special appointment with my psychiatrist in an effort to find out why I would actually like this sort of story.
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