Darkly Dreaming Dexter - 2015 Reading Challenge
Are you noticing the checklist in the right sidebar getting more and more filled up? I am! I won't tick every box before the end of the year, but I'm so glad I did this 2015 Reading Challenge. I've read huge amounts of books that I would never have otherwise picked up, and that's been the goal all along.
One of the things I've always wanted to do as a writer is to write with a unique voice. It's easy enough to write (at least if that's what you want to do -- write), but writing a book with a character's voice that's so memorable that the reader continues to think about it after the book is over -- that's difficult to do.
The book I chose for a book based on or turned into a TV show was recommended to me by a friend, and previously I didn't even know that it was a book: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.
Writing about a serial killer is nothing new. Writing about police hunting a serial killer is nothing new. But, to my knowledge anyway, this is one of the first times someone has written about a serial killer that hunts and kills only other serial killers. Candice Fox has a sort of similar idea in her brilliant Archer & Bennett series, but it's executed (no pun intended) completely differently.
The opening pages of Darkly Dreaming Dexter are some of the most eerie, creepy, wonderfully horrible pages I've read in a while.
Moon. Glorious moon. Full, fat, reddish moon, the night as light as day, the moonlight flooding down across the land and bringing joy, joy, joy. Bringing too the full-throated call of the tropical night, the soft and wild voice of the wind roaring through the hairs on your arm, the hollow wail of starlight, the teeth-grinding bellow of the moonlight off the water. All calling to the Need.
You get to know Dexter right away. You're thrown smack dab in the middle of the mind of a cold-blooded killer, a man who admits to being inhuman and lacking a heart, and yet he only uses his unquenchable desire to murder on the people who truly "deserve" it, the monsters of this world that fly under the radar and escape from police without justice. Raised by a man who was an excellent cop himself, Dexter revealed himself as having the traits of a killer early on, and his father -- fed up with watching bad guys get away -- trained him how to find and stop killers without getting caught.
By day, Dexter works with his sister Deb, a bottom-rung Miami cop who's forced to work undercover as a whore and is dying to climb the ladder to homicide detective. Dexter himself is a blood spatter analyst, but he's far more useful to the police than just that skill. He understands killers. He knows what makes them tick. And he has been the reason many a serial killer has already been put behind bars -- not to mention the ones he secretly puts in the ground.
When a new killer presents himself with a particularly gruesome and "artistic" series of murders, Dexter finds himself torn between wanting to stop the man, and wanting to surrender to his instincts completely and join him out of respect for his artful flair. However, Deb sees this serial killer as her prime opportunity to become a homicide detective and convinces Dexter to help her find the guy before the lead detective on the case can.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter was a quick, exciting read. There were a few cringe-worthy moments for me, but honestly, TheLittle Red Chairswas harder to read than this book. What stuck out to me was the voice -- how crisp, clear, and singular it was. I would know within seconds if I was reading another Dexter book, even without seeing the cover or the characters' names.
My only complaint about this book was the sister, Deb. Honestly, by the end, I was ready to throw her off a bridge myself. She whines throughout the novel at Dexter whenever he withholds information from her, and she's so desperate to get out of working Vice that she's happy to become a detective purely because Dexter has solved the crime and not due to anything she does on her own merits. She swears constantly, punches the crap out of him when he annoys her, and like I said...whines. A lot.
Happily, she's not in the majority of the book, so I was still able to enjoy the thing. If you like creepy books without too much horrific gore, this might be just the one for you.
Feature image credit: Maarten Van Damme / Flickr / 2009