Children. I should have killed him twice.
Whatever made me the way I am left me hollow, empty inside, unable to feel. It doesn’t seem like a big deal. I’m quite sure most people fake an awful lot of everyday human contact. I just fake all of it. I fake it very well, and the feelings are never there. But I like kids. I could never have them, since the idea of sex is no idea at all. Imagine doing those things – How can you? Where’s your sense of dignity? But kids – kids are special. Father Donovan deserved to die. The Code of Harry was satisfied, along with the Dark Passenger.
Jeff Lindsay, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, 2004
Writer’s block is a… hold on. Nope. Already wrote that last year when complaining about my lack of willingness to expose my prose to the world. Or to produce any for that matter. It had been half a year at the time. Almost thirteen months down the line, here I go again. As you might have noticed, my enthusiasm for both reading and writing usually ebbs and flows. Weirdly enough, it is somehow connected to how many *insert appropriate judgmental adjective here* papers I have to grade a week. My Dark Passenger, in a way. But enough about me. Jeff Lindsay deserves all the credit as far as said rekindled enthusiasm is concerned. Who? Exactly. What if I mentioned Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz or Jennifer Carpenter? Ring a bell? Yes, somewhat predictably, Dexter Morgan has become a household name as the main character of Showtime’s acclaimed TV show Dexter while leaving Jeff Lindsay’s novels in the shade. Who? Oh come on, don’t be a smart a… lec.
So here’s yet another rant, this time on behalf of unheralded Jeff Lindsay (he’ll thank me later), whose remarkable(1) talent I almost overlooked because of the sheer quality of a show (its first four to six seasons at least) which is after all a mere adaptation. The ingredients are fairly simple but highly efficient. The same Miami blood spatter analyst by day who turns into a merciless – but abiding by a very strict Code – killer by night we all remember from the show, an equally despicable boss and – that might be the one key element the show has been able to really enhance – somewhat understated supporting roles including Dexter’s sister’s Deborah (Debra on TV) who doesn’t seem to be suffering from Tourette’s syndrome as much as her small screen self just yet.
However, the main reason why some characters might seem a little more subdued than they should be is the overwhelming presence of the story’s protagonist / first-person narrator, this ‘sociopathic vigilante’ as Wikipedia puts it. Indeed, Dexter’s voice is quite unique and the written form makes us more aware of it as we readers have to heavily rely on it to make our way through Lindsay’s plot. This literary device is akin to that which makes Emma Donoghue’s Room so much more compelling on paper than it is on the big screen for instance. Except that in this case, instead of a five-year-old’s thoughts, we’re getting those of a quirky vigilante complete with caustic humor. Triggering such a response in an avid Dexter viewer is no mean feat, believe me. It’s not as if I don’t know what’s supposed to happen or I haven’t seen Michael C. Hall’s staggering performance as everyone’s favorite serial killer. His unlikely appeal was already disturbing enough as seen through a camera. Here lies Jeff Lindsay’s seamless brilliance in his craft.
In other words, whether you enjoyed watching Dexter’s killing spree twelve weeks a year between 2006 and 2013 or you had never heard of that Dexter dude before reading this review (and let’s be quite honest, you still don’t understand all the hype surrounding him), dash to the closest book store (just kidding, type in the address of your favorite slave-owning shopping website) and go on a rampage. Did I mention there were eight books? Oh and did I allude to the fact that the first book (published in 2004) gave away the basis of a major plot twist that wasn’t written into the TV adaptation until the end of its sixth season in 2011? More proof that no Dexter fan had even opened the first book that paved the way for the show’s success and Jeff Lindsay had been utterly ignored as a trailblazer. Anyway. Rant over. Whatever you do, get acquainted with America’s most beloved serial killer one way or another. Both versions provide more than enough food for thought regarding the dichotomy between state-sanctioned justice and individual vigilantism to curb the most insatiable appetites.
(1) I would have gone for ‘tremendous’ but a certain orange someone has ruined this otherwise beautiful word for me lately (and probably forever).
Picture 2: By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Picture 3: By Kristin Dos Santos (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons