by Jeff Lindsay

Well,

I must say I was really looking forward to this one. I was intrigued by the premise; serial killer who kills only other serial killers. Hm, tasty!

The opening sequence of the book did not fail to deliver. In language both haunting and lyrical, we are introduced to Dexter and his “dark passenger” as they stalk their prey. Dexter presents a face alternately appealing and appalling.

Dexter works as a blood spatter technician for the Miami-Dade police department. This gives him a particularly useful vantage from which to seek his candidates. It also allows him to be especially helpful to his foster-sister Deborah a police officer, the only person to whom he feels any human attachment.

However, to my mind Deborah fails to warrant the glimmer of feeling Dexter harbors for her. Ambitious, she is not especially intelligent, instead relying utterly upon Dexter for answers and direction. She seems to have no instincts or methodology of her own and seems ill suited to the detective role she covets.

In fact it is in the interactions between characters I feel this story begin to break down. On the trail of a killer who’s murders Dexter finds particularly compelling, the way in which he processes information internally seems believable enough, but in all his interpersonal encounters there is a fundamental lack of authenticity that I cannot attribute to a literary mechanism, but rather to a failure of skill on the part of the author.

Without giving too much away, I found the climax of this book to be utterly absurd. Every hero needs a nemesis, but the way we are provided with one is such a tremendous cliché I was gobsmacked the author had the cajones to employ it.
Much promise and an underlying feeling for language exist in this book, but the outcome was pretty disappointing. Cannot recommend it without strong a strong caveat; you must have a high tolerance for soap-opera style plot twists to really enjoy this one.

Vintage (2006), Paperback, 304 pages
tags: murder, mystery