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Dexter in the Dark Paperback – September 2, 2008
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“Lindsay's bad boy is back.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review“Wonderful. . . . Darkly amusing. . . . Our handsome murderer may consider himself emotionless, but his sheer joie de vivre – or joie de mourir – is both obvious and contagious.” —The Boston Globe“[Dexter's] adrenaline-pumping gore factor is balanced with large doses of hilarious black humor. Any writer who can make his readers love a serial kill must be doing something right.” —USA Today“An entertaining, funny series that draws us in and makes us root, almost against our will, for a ruthless, yet appealing killer. In his own way, Dexter is trying to make the world a better place.” —The South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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.
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Based on everything we've seen in the past two books, Dexter's issues were purely psychological: severe childhood trauma manifested into a disconnect of emotions and an urge to hurt and kill things. That is plausible.
But introducing a supernatural element into this is plain ridiculous. As I read I hoped that Lindsay was simply making Dexter's imagination run a bit wild, but it turns out he wasn't. Turns out our Dearly Disconnected Dexter's Dark Passenger is really the byproduct of some ancient god's magical trickery.
On top of that, the book version of Rita continues to be a screechy, cartoonish character. The TV version of her character along with the children's on-screen portrayals are far, far better than what was written in the books. Thank goodness at least the TV show continues to get better as it goes along.
Avoid this book. It ruins everything you like about Dexter.
Submerging himself in the guise of family man, Dexter has more to lose, his new family nestled close to a cold, cold heart that had no intention of ever becoming attached to humans. Children who have survived their own horrors, Cody and Astor look up to their father-to-be, their surprisingly effective mentor having overcome an equally challenging childhood to become the sophisticated and likeable monster he is today. Certainly Dexter is an anomaly, his murderous ecstasy only unleashed on the most deserving, our proxy vigilante in a world overrun by random mayhem.
Once he has made a troubling connection to a horrific murder scene with two burnt, headless corpses, Dexter worries that other forces are at work and that he is being stalked, but by whom and why? What at first appears a double ritual murder akin to Santeria is connected to a far more ancient practice, so obscure and shrouded in mystery that only a diligent Dexter can unravel the frightening implications. Faced with the spiraling costs of the wedding thanks to an egomaniacal caterer, burned corpses piling up at crime scenes and the desertion of the Dark Passenger, Dexter is plunged into bitter reality, the Watcher always one step ahead, preparing his trap. The absence of the Passenger offers its own challenges, the suave grace of a natural predator replaced by a far less confident investigator assaulted by unfamiliar emotions: "I was no longer me and I had no idea who or what I was."
Brilliantly sardonic even in the throes of his darkest despair, Lindsay delivers a nicely evolved serial killer, ever adapting to the more sophisticated needs of a shadow world, adding new layers of identity to cope with his most serious threat to date. Delving into his subconscious to examine a sudden vulnerability and the mysterious disappearance of the Dark Passenger, Dexter reveals the innate complications of straddling human existence and the blood-saturated excesses of the monster community that dwells in the deepest recesses of the soul. Avoiding predictability, Lindsay continues to surprise and entertain with an unlikely protagonist who smooth talks his way through obstacles... and has a way with a sharp blade. Luan Gaines/2007
This novel breaks that rule, and stumbles badly in doing so. There may be hints of supernatural beliefs in the first novel, but they can be easily dismissed as Dexter's attempts to come to grips with his bizarre nature, and they don't affect the plot too much. The second novel was utterly devoid of such elements. In this third installment, the reader is expected to swallow whole the literal existence of Moloch, the reality of demonic possession, and the idea that psychopaths can see one another's "dark shadows". All of this is done in the service of a plot where Dexter is helpless throughout, and only stumbles into a resolution as a consequence of inexplicable incompetence on the part of the bad guys and a sudden and unexplained breaking of the dubious rules of the narrative.
Worst of all, Dexter spends almost all of the book whining about the loss of his Dark Passenger, and apparently all of the verbal wit and sarcasm that made his narration such a pleasure to read in previous novels. Before, the reader was invited to share a grim chuckle with Dexter at the venal stupidity of life. Now, I just want to soak a leather glove in water and slap him with it.
Lindsay is probably out of viable ideas, and may have had no real notion of what made his character work in the first place. It wouldn't be the first time a bad author stumbled into a winning formula. I hope this isn't true, but if it is, the first two Dexter novels may be the only worthwhile ones we'll ever see.