Friday, October 9, 2009

Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay

Dexter is a serial killer who kills his own kind: other serial killers. He justifies it by the fact that they are killers and so don't deserve to live. The fact that he is one of them doesn't seem to enter his mind. Dexter has what he calls his "Dark Passenger" living in him, the part of him that gets a thrill from killing, born after Dexter witnesses as a child the murder of his mother and he also was apparently abused by his father. His stepfather, a Miami policeman, realized the extent of the violence found in young Dexter and taught him to act normally and channel his violence tendencies into investigative work, specifically as a blood splatter expert. Dexter, in another attempt at acting like a normal person, has recently married a woman who has no idea who he really is, and who has two children whom Dexter believes are just like him after they were abused by their biological father. He decides to train them just as he was trained. Dexter's sister Deborah is a police sergeant with the Miami police department and knows Dexter's tendencies. She and Dexter work together on a series of very gruesome murders in the city.
This was a truly disgusting book. Violent and obscene in all kinds of ways. A review in the LA Times said it well:

It would, of course, be prudish yet true to note that the Dexter books are a celebration of the banality of evil. They trivialize the taking of life and come as close to meeting the legal definition of obscenity as anything I've read in years: They are prurient and lacking in all redeeming social value.But give the devil his due. Lindsay's serial-killer killer is a great gimmick. His books make money and adapt well to television. Like a pornographer, he's entitled to earn a living like anyone else. But what are we to make of the many fans of such snuff?At worst, their enjoyment represents a death-based voyeurism and sadistic wish fulfillment that ought to give one pause. At best, they are just living in a society where killing other humans is a fun theme for mindless entertainment, a romp that turns notions like "Thou shalt not kill" into the punch line of a joke. Dexter's victims aren't just other serial killers; they're also his fans.

by Jonathon Shapiro. Shapiro is a former federal prosecutor who writes and produces for television.
Copyright © 2009,
The Los Angeles Times
Rated NC-17.

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