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Dexter in the Dark - Jeff Lindsay Far above the aimless scurrying of the city IT watched, and IT waited. There was plenty to see, as always, and IT was in no hurry. IT had done this many time before, and would do so again, endlessly and forever. That was what IT was for. Right now there were so many different choices to consider, and no reason to do anything but consider them until the right one was clear. And then IT would start again, gather the faithful, give them their bright miracle, and IT would feel once more the wonder and joy and swelling rightness of their pain.
All that would come again. It was just a matter of waiting for the right moment.
And IT had all the time in the world.

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Michael C. Hall plays Dexter

Jeff Lindsay really put a lot of noses out of joint with this one. He has fans of the show and fans of the previous two books to please and this one just hit a jarring note with a lot of people.

It is similar to being strapped to a board with duct tape and you open your eyes to find there is a menacing serial killer standing over you with a bloody scalpel. You make the connection that it is your blood on that scalpel.

You pass out.

You come back to consciousness when he starts slicing and dicing...oh so lovingly...your inner thigh.

You scream.

You negotiate.

He laughs, soaking up your terror like an extra large roll of Downy paper towels, and then before he really starts going to work on removing some appendages or organs he just lets you go. You feel relief as you stumble down the middle of a four lane road in Miami dripping blood hoping someone will stop before you become a hood ornament on a Kenworth supercab. Then you get mad thinking isn’t my body good enough for even a damn serial killer. What the f**k is wrong with me? Didn’t I scream loud enough? Didn’t my blood spurt as well as the next guy?

You feel oddly let down.

The interesting aspect of Dexter Morgan’s character is that he is a regular run of the mill serial killer with a code of ethics that was instilled in him by his cop stepfather Harry. Now those codes that have been instilled in young Dexter are also the same codes that keep average people like me or you from being strapped to a board feeling Dexter joyfully dismembering the fine temple we’ve spent so much time sculpting. In this third installment Lindsay chose to instill a supernatural element to the life and times of Dexter Morgan. Readers were upset, with feelings ranging from betrayal to outrage. They don’t want to believe that something netherworld evil might be controlling Dexter. They want to believe that Dexter is just well Dexter, a really nasty serial killer that has a code that allows us all to feel reassured that he is only killing really bad people, so it isn’t sick and disgusting that we are rooting for him.

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I was fortunate enough to have Jeff Lindsay sign my run of Dexter books.

Well Dexter has a shadow that he calls the DARK PASSENGER. For the first time in his life this constant companion, this trusted advisor, disappears leaving him feeling empty like a body without a soul. He is having disturbing dreams for the first time in his life.

”No, this was my subconscious. If it was crying out in pain at the threat of abandonment, I knew exactly what it feared losing: the Dark Passenger. My bosom buddy, my constant companion on my journey through life’s sorrows and sharp pleasures. That was the fear behind the dream: losing the thing that had been so very much a part of me, and actually defined me, for my whole life.”

In the midst of a new case with bodies burned and their heads lopped off and replaced with ceramic bull heads Dexter encounters something dark and dangerous, something so creepy that the Dark Passenger scurries away leaving Dexter feeling exposed and weak and very human.

”Dashing Dexter does not know the meaning of fear. That would have to mean that the roaring thump of my heart, the parching of my mouth, and the sweat pouring out of my hands was no more than massive uneasiness.
I did not enjoy the feeling. I was no longer the Knight of the Knife. My blade and my armor were in some subbasement of the castle, and I was on the field of battle without them, a suddenly soft and tasty victim, and for no reason I could name I was sure that something had my scent in its ravening nostrils.”

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King Solomon killed his brother because he had something DARK inside him.

Dexter is also in the middle of wedding plans, all part of his overall scheme to appear normal. The children of his bride, Cody and Astor are far from normal kids. In fact they too have shadows that drive them to want to inflict pain. He feels pressured to teach them the code of Harry, but like all kids they are impatient to skip the work and get to the fun. Dexter, without the reassuring presence of his Dark Passenger feels his life unraveling. He becomes the main focus of something known as IT, something that was around in the days of Solomon, something so powerful so fear inspiring that Dexter finds himself being controlled and helpless to escape.

Hopefully in the fourth Dexter Morgan book Lindsay will choose to get back to the regular “mortal” adventures of our favorite serial killer. I was not as bothered by the supernatural elements as much as other readers were because I feel that any perception made by a human being can seem supernatural. The whole idea of Voodoo is that it only works if people believe that it can. I think the same idea can be applied to the cult of Moloch that wrecks so much havoc on poor Dexter in this novel.

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The Cult of Moloch or MLK.

I’ll end this review with a bit of Florida environmental commentary that Lindsay slips into the novel.

”The island we headed for was one of the smaller ones. Half of a forty-foot sports fisherman lay on the beach at a crazy angle, and the pine trees inland of the beach were hung with chunks of Styrofoam, tattered cloth, and wispy shreds of plastic sheeting and garbage bags. Other than that, it was just the way the Native Americans had left it, a peaceful little chunk of land covered with Australian pines, condoms, and beer cans.”