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Show me a semi-hot newish show, and I’m likely to want to read the books it was based on. They’re more portable, after all. Accordingly, I picked up and read Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter over the holidays. Serial murderer protagonists are very Solstice!

I can’t say they made a lasting impression. Dexter is a rather defanged protagonist. The series hinges on his code of ethics, which forbids him to hurt anyone except other killers; there’s no way that code is going to be broken any time soon, because the series takes a markedly different direction if that ever happens. So no tension surrounds that particular dilemma.

Further, we don’t see Dexter being bad. We walk with him right up to his murders, and we hear his Dark Passenger urging him onward, but we fade to black before details ensue. Conversely, the efforts of the antagonists of each book are described thoroughly, which serves to make Dexter nearly cuddly in comparison.

Oh, and his sister finds out what he is by the end of the first book and yet forgives him. Still loves him, in fact. The same goes for his fiancee’s kids. It’s hard for the reader to see him as a menacing figure when nobody else does.

The writing is OK, and the stories are not uninteresting. The world is rather glossy. Hm. It’s sort of a Disney serial killer world, right down to the adorable moppets who, and I am not making this up, Dexter will be training to follow in his footsteps. Because you need cute adorable moppet sidekicks. And the rules of the world are such that there is no other option.

Yeah, they’re kind of odd books.

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