Dexter: An Omnibus

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 July, 2009, 12:00am

Dexter: An Omnibus
by Jeff Lindsay
Orion, HK$214

Why go to the trouble to create a hero and a villain when you can have two characters for the price of one? Something like this occurred to Jeff Lindsay when he invented Dexter Morgan, a serial-killing do-gooder who murders the bad and avenges the good. Thanks to the television adaptation starring a deliciously detached Michael C. Hall, Dexter's exploits have reached a mass audience. But has the exposure improved the original? The answer, on reading this 'trilogy' (Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Dearly Devoted Dexter, Dexter in the Dark), is not really. Hall is wonderful on screen but Lindsay's stories are darker and funnier than their offshoot. Much of this has to do with Dexter himself. Whereas Hall's portrayal suggests he is a child at heart who can learn to love, Lindsay extracts much bleak humour from Dexter's alienation from the human race. Lindsay develops the connection between psychopathology and childhood in a way that the television show has not attempted: Dexter's step-children, Cody and Astor, are potentially just as terrifying and damaged as he. The fourth instalment, Dexter by Design, is out now in hardback.