"One of the most likable vigilante serial killers" (The New Yorker) faces his ultimate adversary...an evil so terrifying it scares away Dexter's inner monster--and nearly dries up his sense of humor--in this wickedly witty, darkly suspenseful novel.
In his work as a Miami crime scene investigator, Dexter Morgan is accustomed to seeing evil deeds...particularly because, on occasion, he rather enjoys committing them himself. Guided by his Dark Passenger (the reptilian voice inside him), he lives his outwardly normal life adhering to one simple rule: he kills only very bad people. Dexter slides through life undetected, working as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department, helping his fiance raise her two adorable (if somewhat...unique) children, and always planning his next jaunt as Dexter the Dark Avenger under the light of the full moon.
But then everything changes. Dexter is called to a crime scene that seems routine: a gruesome double homicide at the university campus, which Dexter would normally investigate with gusto, before enjoying a savory lunch. And yet this scene feels terribly wrong. Dexter's Dark Passenger senses something it recognizes, something utterly chilling, and the Passenger--mastermind of Dexter's homicidal prowess--promptly goes into hiding.
With his Passenger on the run, Dexter is left to face this case all alone--not to mention his demanding sister (Sergeant Deborah), his frantic fiancee (Rita), and the most frightening wedding caterer ever to plan a menu. Equally unsettling, Dexter begins to realize that something very dark and very powerful has its sights set on him. Dexter is left in the dark, but he must summon his sharpest investigative instincts not only to pursue his enemy, but to locate and truly understand his Dark Passenger. To find him, Dexter has to research the questions he's never dared ask: Who is the Dark Passenger, and where does he come from? It is nothing less than a search for Dexter's own dark soul...fueled by a steady supply of fresh doughnuts.
Macabre, ironic, and wonderfully entertaining, Dexter in the Dark goes deeper into the psyche of one of the freshest protagonists in recent fiction. Jeff Lindsay's glorious creativity is on full display in his most accomplished novel yet.
In Lindsay's third novel to feature endearing Miami cop and serial killer Dexter Morgan (after 2005's Darkly Devoted Dexter), the Dark Passenger, the voice inside Dexter's head that from time to time drives him to the Theme Park of the Unthinkable, inexplicably disappears while Morgan is investigating a gruesome double murder on the University of Miami campus. The crime scene, at which two co-eds were ritualistically burned and beheaded, gives even the human vivisection-loving vigilante the creeps. As the burned and beheaded body count continues to mount, Morgan realizes that the force behind the killings is something even more evil than his Dark Passenger. Though the macabre wit that powered the first two installments of this delightfully dark series (also a hit on TV's Showtime) is still evident, this third entry takes a decidedly deep introspective turn as Dexter is forced to contemplate not only life without his enigmatic companion but also who--or what--he truly is. (Sept.)
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August 30, 2007
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Excerpt from Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay
What kind of moon is this? Not the bright, gleaming moon of slashing happiness, no indeed. Oh, it pulls and whines and shines in a cheap and guttering imitation of what it should do, but there is no edge to it. This moon has no wind in it to sail carnivores across the happy night sky and into slash-and-slice ecstasy. Instead this moon flickers shyly through a squeaky-clean window, onto a woman who perches all cheerful and perky on the edge of the couch and talks about flowers, canapes, and Paris.
Yes, with moon-faced seriousness, Paris is what she is talking about in that far-spreading syrupy tone. She is talking about Paris. Again.
So what kind of moon can this possibly be, with its near-breathless smile and smirking lace around the edges? It batters feebly at the window, but it can't quite get in past all the sickly-sweet warbling. And what kind of Dark Avenger could simply sit across the room, as poor Dazed Dexter does now, pretending to listen while mooning blearily on his chair?
Why, this moon must be a honeymoon--unfurling its marital banner across the living-room night, signaling for all to rally round, sound the charge, once more into the church, dear friends--because Dexter of the Deadly Dimples is getting married. Hitched to the wagon of bliss pulled by the lovely Rita, who has turned out to have a lifelong passion to see Paris.
Married, honeymoon in Paris...Do these words really belong in the same sentence as any reference at all to our Phantom Flenser?
Can we really see a suddenly sober and simpering slasher at the altar of an actual church, in Fred Astaire tie and tails, slipping the ring onto a white-wrapped finger while the congregation sniffles and beams? And then Demon Dexter in madras shorts, gawking at the Eiffel Tower and snarfing cafe au lait at the Arc de Triomphe? Holding hands and trundling giddily along the Seine, staring vacantly at every gaudy trinket in the Louvre?
Of course, I suppose I could make a pilgrimage to the Rue Morgue, a sacred site for serial slashers.
But let us be just a tiny bit serious for a moment: Dexter in Paris? For starters, are Americans still allowed to go to France? And for finishers, Dexter in Paris? On a honeymoon? How can someone of Dexter's midnight persuasions possibly consider anything so ordinary? How can someone who considers sex as interesting as deficit accounting enter into marriage? In short, how by all that is unholy, dark, and deadly can Dexter really mean to do this?
All wonderful questions, and very reasonable. And in truth, somewhat difficult to answer, even to myself. But here I am, enduring the Chinese water torture of Rita's expectations and wondering how Dexter can possibly go through with this.
Well then. Dexter can go through with this because he must, in part to maintain and even upgrade his necessary disguise, which prevents the world at large from seeing him for what he is, which is at best not something one would really like to have sitting across the table when the lights go out--especially if there is silverware present. And quite naturally, it takes a great deal of careful work to make sure it is not generally known that Dexter is driven by his Dark Passenger, a whispery-silk voice in the shaded backseat that from time to time climbs into the front seat to take the wheel and drive us to the Theme Park of the Unthinkable. It would never do to have the sheep see that Dexter is the wolf among them.
And so work we do, the Passenger and I, work very hard at our disguise. For the past several years we have had Dating Dexter, designed to present a cheerful and above all normal face to the world. This charming production featured Rita as the Girlfriend, and it was in many ways an ideal arrangement, since she was as uninterested in sex as I am, and yet wanted the companionship of an Understanding Gentleman. And Dexter really does understand. Not humans, romance, love, and all that gabble. No. What Dexter understands is the lethally grinning bottom line, how to find the utterly deserving among Miami's oh-so-many candidates for that final dark election to Dexter's modest Hall of Fame.
This does not absolutely guarantee that Dexter is a charming companion; the charm took years of practice, and it is the pure artificial product of great laboratory skill. But alas for poor Rita--battered by a terribly unfortunate and violent first marriage--she can't seem to tell the margarine from the butter.
All well and good. For two years Dexter and Rita cut a brilliant swathe across the Miami social scene, noticed and admired everywhere. But then, through a series of events that might well leave an enlightened observer somewhat skeptical, Dexter and Rita had become accidentally engaged. And the more I pondered on how to extricate myself from this ridiculous fate, the more I realized that it was a logical next step in the evolution of my disguise. A married Dexter--a Dexter with two ready-made children!--is surely a great deal further from seeming to be anything at all like what he really is. A quantum leap forward, onto a new level of human camouflage.
And then there are the two children.
It may seem strange that someone whose only passion is for human vivisection should actually enjoy Rita's children, but he does. I do. Mind you, I don't get all weepy-eyed at the thought of a lost tooth, since that would require the ability to feel emotion, and I am quite happily without any such mutation. But on the whole, I find children a great deal more interesting than their elders, and I get particularly irritable with those who cause them harm. In fact, I occasionally search them out. And when I track these predators down, and when I am very sure that they have actually done what they have been doing, I make sure they are quite unable to do it ever again--and with a very happy hand, unspoiled by conscience.
So the fact that Rita had two children from her disastrous first marriage was far from repellent, particularly when it became apparent that they needed Dexter's special parenting touch to keep their own fledgling Dark Passengers strapped into a safe, snug Dark Car Seat until they could learn how to drive for themselves. For presumably as a result of the emotional and even physical damage inflicted on Cody and Astor by their drug-addled biological father, they too had turned to the Dark Side, just like me. And now they were to be my children, legally as well as spiritually. It was almost enough to make me feel that there was some guiding purpose to life after all.
And so there were several very good reasons for Dexter to go through with this--but Paris? I don't know where it came from, this idea that Paris is romantic. Aside from the French, has anyone but Lawrence Welk ever thought an accordion was sexy? And wasn't it by now clear that they don't like us there? And they insist on speaking French, of all things?
Perhaps Rita had been brainwashed by an old movie, something with a perky-plucky blonde and a romantic dark-haired man, modernist music playing as they pursue each other around the Eiffel Tower and laugh at the quaint hostility of the dirty, Gauloise-smoking man in the beret. Or maybe she had heard a Jacques Brel record once and decided it spoke to her soul. Who can say? But somehow Rita had the notion firmly welded into her steel-trap brain that Paris was the capital of sophisticated romance, and the idea would not come out without major surgery.
So on top of the endless debates about chicken versus fish and wine versus cash bar, a series of monomaniacal rambling monologues about Paris began to emerge. Surely we could afford a whole week, that would give us time to see the Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre--and maybe something by Moliere at the Comedie-Francaise. I had to applaud the depth of her research. For my part, my interest in Paris had faded away completely long ago when I learned that it was in France.