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Dexter by Design

Review by: 
Jeff Lindsay
Publication Date: 
Bottom Line: 

Welcome back to the world of the printed page, Darling Dexter and your Devoted Dark Passenger. Fans have been waiting to see what glorious misadventure lies in store for you and you budding family. After all, young Cody and Astor have changed so much since you came into their lives and now Rita is your blushing bride! Things must be very different in the Morgan household…both Morgan households, since your sister, Deb, now knows what you really are.

Dexter Morgan. Angelic Assassin who only murders the mischievous. Dexter is a serial killer, yet his carefully constructed code insists that his victims must deserve to die. He’s made quite the living dispatching the devious, but now, a strange new player has shown up on the beaches of beautiful Miami, and Dexter is challenged with a completely different type of enemy.

When corpses start showing up in trendy tourist traps all over Miami, local police are baffled. Unfortunately for our fly-by-night avenger, his sister, Deb, is right in the middle of the case. Someone is staging scenic shots of sarcastically arranged bodies, and Deb, having a hard time breaking the case, is dragging her brother all over Miami in hopes of a lead.  When the Morgan siblings finally get a suspect, Deb winds up hurt and Dexter descends down a slippery slope, exposing himself and those close to him to a fresh face on the killing scene.

Dexter by Design is a triumphant return to form for author Jeff Lindsay. With the fourth book in the series, Lindsay focuses again on his core characters, and the wonderful balance of confusion and charisma that made his protagonist a hit in the original, Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Fans of the series will be delighted at the new angles, cause and effect relationships of events, and the changes to familiar faces in the Dexter series. Lindsay includes just enough details to explain how his cast came to their current situation, allowing this book to stand on its own without additional explanation.

Lindsay’s usual tools are sharp and steady in Dexter by Design. His use of alliteration, capitalization and humor are keys to making Dexter lovable, and he hits on all marks. Scenes in several countries reveal the depths of his research, all the while making Miami feel alive and familiar. Lindsay has placed Dexter on a tipping point between a normal life and the most bizarre murder cases ever recorded, and he pulls the strings to make his hero sway with the skill of a practiced professional.

Fans of the Dexter series on Showtime will notice differences between the show and the novels. These are necessary as the plotlines went separate ways with Book One. However, both the written words and filmed frames provide excellent entertainment value, as long as viewers/readers are willing to accept the differences.  Lindsay writes from Dexter’s point of view.  While the books don’t have the strength of the series’ wonderful cast, they manage to get viewers even closer to the cuddly killer.

Authors who contributed to Bleak House Books 2006 compilation, “These Guns For Hire”, all explained the readers’ passionate obsession with the hit man as a bad boy, doing what everyone wishes they could. Dexter is no exception. By making him the best friend kind of bad boy, Lindsay has made him vulnerable and likable, and that is the key to success for his series.

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