Mystery readers get pretty savvy pretty quickly. There's a formula inherent in the mystery - you know there will be a crime, there will be a killer, there will be a detective pursuing the killer, there will be an answer to the crime. So you look for the details. You look for the character, the setting, or the profession for an insider's look. In a straight mystery novel what you've really got is a morality tale.
I had a problem with this book right off the bat. I know that at a crime scene the police always hold back some bit of evidence because there are innocent people who will confess to murders. We get someone arrested for these murders very quickly - one that Dexter and his sister know isn't the killer, but nobody seems to think this is bad.
I wanted to love this book because I actually am quite fond of literary monsters. But I don't buy Dexter. He doesn't work as a sociopath at all. The guy's a kosher killer. He wants to exsanguinate his people so that there's no blood. Blood makes him nauseous, so the ultimate kill would be the bloodless kill, and yet he never gets anywhere on that. Any detail he gives us shows that he's going to have to shower from head to toe - he's vivisecting people! There's a sense of "How did you think that was going to work, Dexter?"
Other reviews by Janice MacDonald:
The Maltese Falcon
The Torment of Others
The things that I found compelling about this book were Dexter's view of the world, his relationship with his father, and how he's come to be the person that he is. Dexter's inner monologue was what really drew me into the killings. You can feel his pulse racing, you get a sense of his excitement. Where the author really lost it was with the introduction of the media and the press to the crime scenes. That's so far out in left field it's not even funny.
As far as the policing aspect of this book, there were some things that were greatly sensationalized, but the dialogue and banter between the colleagues was pretty true to form. Although, in nine years I have never seen people blow up at each other as regularly as they do in this book's police environment.
Dexter would make a fabulous, entertaining movie, but I wouldn't pick up the sequel. I waddled my way through this book, pleasantly entertained, but I need a little bit more meat.
Other reviews by Curtis Rind: