REVIEW: Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Dearly, Devoted Dexter by Jeff LindsayDearly, Devoted Dexter (2005) by Jeff Lindsay is the second book in the popular Dexter series published by Vintage.

I was looking for a quick read and Jeff Lindsay’s book looked like it would be a fast read. I did read Darkly, Dreaming Dexter last year and wasn’t impressed. I graded it a B read. I remember all those boring dream sequences and repetitive internal dialogue. There was hardly anything to recommend reading the sequel except some fans saying it was better than the first book. 

Despite my lackluster response to the previous book in the series, I did like the author’s witty and often sarcastic authorial voice peppered with short instances of alliteration (check out the title). Started reading Dearly, Devoted Dexter over the weekend and found this book very entertaining.

Lindsay’s novels featuring anti-hero, Dexter Morgan, are very quick reads with nary a romance in sight.  Just like 99% of other suspense novels out there, they do require the reader to suspend some disbelief.

What makes this series so easily readable to me is the author’s humor despite the fact that the hero in here is a serial killer—oh, excuse me– a “polite”, mild-mannered monster who only feeds his Dark Passenger – his darker half that he refers to in third person – with the scions of the earth.

Let us recap a bit and introduce you to a few of the important characters. The series follows Dexter Morgan and he works out of Miami Beach, Florida as a forensics lab technician. He’s a blood splatter expert.

Then there’s his adopted sister, Deborah Morgan, who is a cop recently promoted to homicide. Together, the two are always seen working closely together at crime scenes.  Their back and forth bantering are quite humorous. The reason why they work so good together is that Dexter is an invaluable resource to Deborah. He provides insight into the monsters that plague South Florida. I can’t recall if Deborah realizes who her brother truly is inside but she seems to bring out Dexter’s humanity even while he doth proclaims that he has no human side. We are told this repeatedly, btw.

Dearly, Devoted Dexter takes up a bit after the last novel closes. In the previous novel we learned Dexter’s M.O. in how he chooses his victims. He follows the “Harry Path” named after Dexter’s adopted father, Harry Morgan, was also a cop.  Harry recognized the Darkness within Dexter and guided him down that dark path that would allow him to feed his need for killing and not get caught. 

Even after Harry’s death, Dexter still follows his code. So we watch Dexter go after some of the worst scum of the earth. He stalks them, waits for them then they are permanently removed more or less off camera. Like any other serial killer, Dexter is proud of his work, keeps trophies and often compares his work with other monsters like himself.

There is a bit of humanity to Dexter in his affection for kids and for his sister that as readers we see through his actions. As a narrator, Dexter often contradicts himself, proclaiming he has no emotions when we clearly see that he does.

In the last entry it was a priest who was molesting and murdering children and in Dearly Devoted Dexter, we see Dexter go after yet another pedophile. In his gleeful pursuit of his current predator, Dexter soon learns that his project has two parts. Yes, his target has an accomplice. However, the second part of Dexter’s project will have to wait. 

Dexter has a nemesis on the police force named Sergeant Doakes. Doakes is described as a black cop who is good at his job and has a “dark side” to him, too. Dexter calls him his kindred spirit. Doakes hates Dexter and Dexter must become what he dreads most: Domesticated Dexter. Having his plans foiled, we see Dexter visit his girlfriend Rita and her two children, whom he claims he uses like a disguise.

Dexter says his girlfriend gives him the appearance of being “normal.” Doakes would like nothing better than to catch Dexter in a criminal act. However, despite their antagonism towards each other, the two end up working together to solve a case.

Suspense is only as good as your villain and in here, the villain was quite interesting in a superficial–don’t look beneath the surface-kind of way. We never learn much about the antagonist only that he is crazy. A bit of back story on him or her did help make things a bit more sinister for an instant.  

Most of the villain’s crimes were mostly behind closed doors but the result of his crimes were pretty grisly to read about or even imagine. This villain has a thing for dismemberment: cutting off arms, legs and tongue and leaving only the torso behind. Sa-distic. The victims are left alive when he’s finished with them.

The Miami police department are off the case as it goes Federal almost immediately. Washington has sent Kyle McCutsky to investigate the crime(s) since he and Doakes know who the culprit “might” be. Doakes, McCutsky and the killer all seem to have shared a past.  We learn that the killer is an ex-soldier from their old army days back in El Salvador.

The author goes on to expound on the covert operations and how one of their own was allowed to be captured by the Cubans for political reasons.  So the story turns out to a revenge story. Great. The Cuban angle gave the story a little depth. Just a little. At least for me.

Dexter narrates the story as he did the first and there’s a bit of wit, sarcasm and self-deprecating humor weaved throughout the story. The author adds a bit of Floridian satire into the mix that is very funny. The parts that I found hard to believe in the story is the lack of police involvement at the State or Federal level.  Dexter admits even to himself that he has better things to do than be the hero of the day–again.

However, he is an obvious choice to since like knows like. However, there were some side threads that are explored a bit outside the mystery. One is where Kyle gets to town and takes up with Dexter’s sister, Deborah. They have a fling off camera. 

There’s one scene that is especially funny when Dexter and Deb argue about how good Kyle is at his job because  Kyle gets kidnapped from his British Colonial hotel a couple days after he arrives from Washington. Also there’s also the relationship with his girlfriend Rita who he finds himself engaged. Then there is the Rita’s son, Cody who shows promise of having a Dark passenger of his own. Oy.

There are many humorous moments in this book to balance out the dark. However, when I think about this book, dark doesn’t actually come to mind. However, there is plenty of graphic violence to go around. 

In conclusion, Dearly, Devoted Dexter was entertaining despite some repetitive internal monologue and a few subplots that go nowhere, it kept me turning pages. Dexter is a contradiction. He is human and he does feel human emotion despite his proclamations to the contrary. Anyway, I really can’t complain too much as I was entertained and I really enjoy Dexter as a narrator.

If your looking for a quick read and no, it doesn’t have a romance, then this is a good mystery for you to read. Again: no romance but I didn’t miss it. It does contain graphic violence that mostly happens behind closed doors until you reach the end.  Dexter is a pretty good narrator despite  short instances where his internal dialogue gets repetitive. It’s hard to admit that Dexter is a rather likable guy. However, he’d rather cut you open than give you a teddy bear hug.  

Dearly Devoted Dexter earns a B+. Yes, I liked this one better than the first one. There’s a third book due out in September, titled, Dexter in the Dark which will be available in ebook. Most of you may know that there is also a television series based on these books that airs on Showtime. I don’t have Showtime. I had heard it was good but I’ll pass all the same, thank you. Each book can stand alone.

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4 Responses to REVIEW: Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

  1. May says:

    I read in reverse order, ie Dearly Devoted first, and just finished Darkly Dreaming Dexter, and I very much agree with your assessment that the second book’s better.

  2. Jane says:

    Hmm. I want but will wait for the ebook.

  3. LesleyW says:

    I’ve been meaning to pick up the Dexter books for a while but haven’t got round to it.

    LOL – I hate reading books out of order though, so will have to read the first book, even though most people seem to agree that the second is better.

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