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Dexter always has two dialogues in progress. There’s the one he carries on with the world around him–a world that is largely ignorant of his dark deeds–and then there is the one with his inner Dark Passenger. These discussions are often in conflict and filled with macabre irony, as this beloved serial killer of serial killers attempts to find meaning in his life and a better understanding of himself.
There are also two dialogues in progress if one follows Dexter, the hit Showtime series (not HBO, John Lithgow), and reads the Dexter novels by Jeff Lindsay. In the beginning, the dialogues weren’t so far apart, since Lindsay’s first Dexter novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, served as the rough inspiration for the first season of the show. However, the novels and the series became two distinctly separate entities after that, replete with completely different storylines. So which is the “real” Dexter and is one more valid than the other? The best advice in this case is to think of each one as a different monster and don’t try to supplant one for the other, because you’ll only be disappointed.
In the latest book in the series, Dexter is Delicious, readers find Dexter struggling to come to terms with his greatest emotional challenge yet: fatherhood. It’s not a world that this principled executioner is comfortable with, despite the fact that some of its settings are all-too-familiar, as he reveals in the book’s opening:
This part of the hospital seems like foreign country to me. There is no sense of the battlefield here, no surgical teams in gore-stained scrubs trading witty remarks about missing body parts, no steely-eyed administrators with their clipboards, no herds of old drunks in wheelchairs, and above all, no flocks of wide-eyed sheep huddled together in fear at what might come out of the double steel doors. There is no stench of blood, antiseptic, and terror; the smells here are kinder, homier.
As Dexter comes to terms with the responsibilities and emotions of becoming a parent, he simultaneously becomes embroiled in a case involving 21st century vampires, club hopping cannibals, and drug-addled teenagers with freakish fantasies. Like the earlier Dexter books, there’s are elements of colorful camp and over-the-top humor that work in Lindsay’s favor on the page, though they would indubitably fail on the screen if employed as heavily (There can be only one Dr. Horribles’s Sing-Along Blog).
Since Dexter spends so much of his time talking to himself (which is half the fun) Lindsay really has half a book to craft an adventure around. This means that the larger plot can’t be as nuanced as say, a season of Dexter, and so the “surprise” ending isn’t really a shock to anyone except Dexter himself. That doesn’t spoil everything that lead up to it though, making Dexter is Delicious a delightful diversion for dilettantes of dastardly deeds and delectable devastation.