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A witty, grisly debut about the secret adventures of a Florida sociopath who murders only bad guys.

Dexter Morgan makes his living off the blood of the dead—literally. A “blood-splatter analyst” for the Miami Police Department, Dexter works only on the messiest cases, nearly all homicides and quite a few the work of serial killers. It takes one to know one, too, for Dexter has a very deep and well-guarded secret: He’s been bumping people off for years. Dexter knew from an early age that he was somehow different, and his father, Detective Harry Morgan, had picked up enough abnormal psychology on the job to recognize the signs. Harry tried to help Dexter out by suggesting that the boy might want to make a virtue of necessity by concentrating his murderous energies on the truly wicked people of the world—and Dexter agreed, beginning with the hospice nurse who was systematically overdosing Harry with morphine. From that day forward, Dexter (and his ghostly imaginary friend, the Dark Passenger) have done well by doing bad, disposing of a long line of pedophiles, killers, sadists, and thugs. A consummate professional, Dexter has never left a shred of incriminating evidence behind, but lately he’s begun to worry. A copycat killer is on the loose, leaving a string of victims strewn about the dark byways of Miami bearing the trademarks of Dexter’s handiwork in an obvious attempt to lure him out of hiding. Dexter can play his hand close to his chest, but unfortunately for him one of the cops assigned to the new cases is his sister Deborah, who knows nothing of Dexter’s extracurricular activities. Part of Dexter wants to come of the cold and play with this new guy on the block, but he feels an obligation to keep his sister from being implicated. It’s not just thieves, after all: There’s honor among murderers, too.

Cheap fun: a guilty pleasure few monster-addicts will be able to resist.

Pub Date: July 27th, 2004
ISBN: 0-385-51123-X
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2004

Kirkus Interview
Jeff Lindsay
author of DEXTER IS DEAD
July 14, 2015

Dexter Morgan, of Jeff Lindsay’s bestselling series of novels (and the inspiration for one of the most successful shows on TV), has burned the candle at both ends for many years. Blood spatter analyst…husband…father…serial killer. And now, for the first time, his world has truly collapsed. Dexter is arrested on charges of murder. He has lost everything—including his wife, his kids, and the loyalty of his sister. Now completely alone, Dexter faces a murder charge (for a crime…ironically…he did not actually commit). His only chance for freedom lies with his brother, who has a dark plan to prove Dexter's innocence. But the stakes are deadly and the epic showdown that lies in Dexter's path may lead, once and for all, to his demise. “Who could possibly want to eliminate such a charmingly monstrous killer as Dexter?” our reviewer wonders. We’ll ask Lindsay that question in this week’s Kirkus TV. View video >


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