Dexter is back in the fifth novel of the series… but now he’s “Dex Daddy”. Upon the birth of Dexter’s daughter Lily Anne, he begins to think of himself as something he had never thought of himself as before – a real everyday human capable of feeling emotions, caring about people and empathising.
For the benefit of anyone not familiar with the Dexter novels or the TV series Dexter, based on the novels, Dexter leads a double life as a serial killer (who only kills bad people) and a blood spatter expert with Miami Police Department, working alongside his sister Deborah who is a homicide detective.
Dexter is Delicious begins:
This part of the hospital seems like a 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 of what might come out of the double steel doors. There is no stench of blood, antiseptic, and terror; the smells here are kinder, homier. Even the colours are different: softer, more pastel, without the drab battleship utilitarianism of the walls in other parts of the building. There are, in fact, none of the sights and sounds and dreadful smells I have come to associate with hospitals, none at all. There is only the crowd of moon eyed men standing at the big window, and to my infinite surprise, I am one of them.
Until now, Dexter had been resigned to the idea that Miami was populated by a rabble of cut-throat psychopaths and he was happy to rid it of some of its worst. With Lily Anne’s arrival, his primary concern has become protecting her and guiding her through life’s dangers – dangers like his brother, who has come to meet Dexter’s family and is less choosy about who he kills as long as the victim is a young woman, and a group of people in Miami trying to be vampires and murdering to eat barbecued human flesh.
Dexter’s sister Deborah becomes head of a task force to find a missing teen girl and, as Dexter works as her bloodspatter expert and right hand man on the investigation, the story becomes as much about Deborah’s transformation as Dexter’s. Dexter has a family and Deborah wants one, which is new emotional territory for both of them. Meanwhile, they have a missing girl to find before she is killed andmaybe eaten.
The publisher’s press release sums up the novel well, noting that the birth of Lily Anne “allows Lindsay to really sink his teeth into the theme that is at the beating heart of the series – that is, the notion of what it is to be human, and what makes humans human. It is both hilarious, and kinda sad, to be in the headspace of Dexter, who knows he is not human, but knows all the moves and reactions that humans act out in various situations in order to maintain the necessary facade – the facade that keeps the monster, that Dexter knows he is, hidden within. With the birth of his daughter, Dexter begins to experience real human emotions, and real human fears.”
In Dexter is Delicious, Jeff Lindsay has balanced the ordinary and the extraordinary in Dexter’s life but, since the ordinary is an extraordinary change for Dexter, the story never gets dull.
Jeff Lindsay will be visiting Australia at the end of February. The TV series of Dexter is currently in its fifth season. More on Jeff Lindsay and his Dexter novels can be found here.
The Australian Literature Review