Although I'd been vaguely aware of the Dexter books and the TV series based upon them, I'd not given them much thought until I saw a memorable Facebook status update from my sister:
Then, when I realised I hadn't brought a book to read in my lunchbreak at work, and had no interest in getting a magazine, I found an abandoned copy of the first book in the lunchroom, and, remembering Jenny's raving about the TV series, thought I'd give it a try.
I was vaguely aware, from what Jenny had told me and the book and DVD blurbs that Dexter Morgan was a forensic blood spatter analysis for the Miami police, a likeable man who happened to be a serial killer in his spare time - but who only kills the bad guys. The really bad guys. I came to the books unaware of any more of Dexter's character than this, and maybe had some idea that he was some sort of vigilante character whose primary objective was to bring villains to justice who had somehow slipped through the net. When I actually opened the book, it became clear that this view was mistaken. Dexter Morgan is primarily driven by the murderous urges and voices he calls "The Dark Passenger," and it is due to his moral code learned from his adopted father Harry that he has put the Dark Passenger to good use. Hey, if you must go around murdering people, you might as well go after the people who really deserve it, no?
It was difficult at first to get into Dexter's head, because he has no emotions - or so he claims - an outsider who observes humans as a species quite apart from himself, whose entire life is a performance to hide his secret, from his relationship with timid, damaged Rita and her children, to the decor of his house. And I wasn't entirely sure that I wanted to get into his head! Gradually, though, I became intrigued by this character, and Darkly Dreaming Dexter is a fascinating insight into the mind of a sociopath with some sort of moral code.
Then, more, I realised I was starting to like this self-confessed monster. His narration reflects his view as an outsider to his own life, facing drastic turns of events with an "ooh, would you look at that?" sort of curiosity and a dry, understated dark humour. What became just a handy distraction in the lunchroom hooked me and made me wonder how Dexter could possibly continue to hide his sinister pastime from his work colleagues including his sister Deborah, who are already starting to worry about how a blood spatter analyst could be such an expert in the serial-killer's psyche. Although I tend to prefer one-off novels to series, I'm alreadythinking, "Bother, only four more to go!" I've been discussing the story with Jenny who is a fan of the TV series, and so far we understand each other, but it seems that from series 2 onwards the books and TV show go their separate ways. Reviews claim that the TV DEXTER is one of the few instances of the adaptation being better than the original material - I shall have to investigate this for myself, I think. Purely for research and comparison, of course. And that way, I've got twice as many Dexter stories to keep my dark side entertained.