Darkly Dreaming Dexter


Author: Jeff Lindsay

Title: Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 288

Geographical Setting: Miami, Florida

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): Dexter series

Plot Summary:  Dexter Morgan moonlights as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami police department, as a dear brother, and as a devoted boyfriend.  In real life, Dexter devotes himself to researching, stalking and dismembering his prey.  As a psychopathic serial killer, Dexter may seem inevitably a not-so-nice guy, except for one small thing: he limits his prey to other psychopathic serial killers.  This devotion is not based so much on some twisted vigilante morality, but rather on a respect for his deceased, police officer, foster father, Harry, who taught him to be careful and to never kill the innocent.  His resolve is tested, however, when a new serial killer comes on the scene with a mode of operation not unlike Dexter’s, tantalizing him and tempting him into playing the game with much more innocent victims.  Dexter details his dashing deceit, dark dreams, and deadly demons with a sarcastic wit and a humorous tone despite his obvious character flaws.

Subject Headings: Serial killers, psychopaths, forensic analysis, Miami, blood spatter analysis, prostitution, dismemberment

Appeal: Disturbing, darkly humorous, compelling, sarcastic tone, complex characters, chilling, psychological, suspenseful, series characters, flawed characters, explicitly violent, urban, straightforward language, witty

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Disturbing, darkly humorous, compelling

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Blood Secrets: a Forensic Expert Reveals How Blood Spatter Tells the Crime Scene’s Story by Ron Englert

This book details the true science of blood spatter analysis, Dexter’s day job.   Englert looks at real cases and shows how scientific analysis of the way blood behaves can provide information about how a person died.

I: The Creation of a Serial Killer by Jack Olsen

Jack Olsen allows serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson, or the “Happy Face Killer,” to tell his own story in this book which details his early childhood and his murders, similarly to how Dexter tells his own story.

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

This account discusses real life psychopathy, the condition Dexter claims to compel him to kill.  It discusses the implications of psychopaths being more prevalent than realized, and the damage they can wreak, not only in the sense that some are serial killers, but also as those in positions of political, corporate, or religious power.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Florida Roadkill by Tim Dorsey

The first in a series of novels about serial killer Serge Storms, operating in Florida with a group of murderous friends.  The series has a darkly humorous tone, similar to the Dexter series.

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

This psychological suspense novel begins a series about Tom Ripley, a con man and a murderer, who uses his resourcefulness to evade the law, similarly to Dexter.  Also a novel with a darkly humorous tone.

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

This novel tells the story of a woman suspected of murder, held in a psychiatric hospital, as she tells the story of how she became part of a covert organization dedicated to killing “irredeemables” with weapons designed to look like death of natural causes.  Employs a darkly humorous tone, similar to the Dexter series, and also features a protagonist who believes in killing those deemed not deserving of life.

Name: Christi H.


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