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Darkly Dreaming Dexter

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Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Front cover of Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter was the first novel in the Dexter Book Series, written by Jeff Lindsay. The events are very similar to the events in Season 1 of Dexter, the series, but after season 1 the storyline veers of those of the books. Dexter Morgan is confronted by the Tamiami Butcher in this book. It was written in 2004 and won a Dilys Award.

The book has been reprinted in various formats, including Michael C. Hall on the cover with the same appearance that is on the Season 1 DVD Boxset Cover (Dexter with an unusually white arm set against his face, as if he was bored).


Darkly Dreaming Dexter has been released in hardcover, paperback and mass produced compact paperback versions. Reprints were made as soon as the Showtime series became a hit, featuring Michael C. Hall on the cover. With newer prints available, pages advertising other books in the series were included (especially in the mass produced compact paperback, which includes a list of other Dexter novels up to Dexter by Design and even includes 10 pages from that novel).

Chapter and Page Count

There are 27 Chapters, including a Epilogue for Darkly Dreaming Dexter. In the mass-produced novel, the page-count is 341 for the story, then if the Dexter by Design pages are included...the total page count comes to about 360 (including extra pages meant for thanks and advertisement).


The story unfolds as Dexter begins describing his night and the urge to kill, targeting a man named Father Donovan. The priest was a teacher to young boys, showing them choir and participating in their daily activities just like any other good mannered individual would...however, he was more than just a gentle priest. Dexter takes him as a hostage, forcing him to the location where he murdered children...showing him the error of his ways before turning him into his 37th victim.[1]

It is revealed that the novel's protagonist, Dexter Morgan, works for the Miami Dade Police Department as a forensic blood spatter pattern analyst. In his spare time, Dexter is a serial killer with a catch: he only kills murderers that he believes have escaped judicial punishment.

Dexter's murders are directed by an inner voice he refers to as the "Dark Passenger," who keeps prodding Dexter to kill something. Once he has done so, the voice is satisfied for a while, but always comes back.

Flashbacks reveal that his foster father, a police detective named Harry Morgan, recognized Dexter's proclivities early on and taught him how to kill people who have gotten away with murder as a way to channel his homicidal urges in a "positive" direction. Harry also taught young Dexter to be a careful, meticulous killer, to leave no clues, and to be absolutely sure his victims are guilty before killing them. Dexter calls these rules "the Code of Harry."

Dexter manages his double life reasonably well for years but is unprepared when a serial killer with an artistic and playful style that impresses him starts terrorizing Miami's prostitutes. As the "Tamiami Butcher" rampages through the city, he begins sending messages to Dexter, who finds the series of terrifying crimes engrossing and fascinating. Meanwhile, his sister Deborah sees the series of murders as her ticket out of the Vice unit and into Homicide. Dexter is torn between helping her catch the killer and a desire to sit back and admire the artistry and skill of a fellow killer's work.

Differences Between Book and TV

This is the novel that inspired the series and as such, Season 1 of the Showtime series is based strongly on the events within the novel. However, if the series were to follow the book as the events are displayed...there would have only been less than 6 episodes. Therefore, a lot of Dexter's victims and stories in the Showtime series are nowhere present within the novel itself.

Most of the first half of the novel is actually condensed into the very first episode of the Dexter Showtime series, however some things that occur throughout the first half of the novel are then placed within the next few episodes to further draw out the storyline. Therefore, certain events occur in different order depending on what form of media they're portrayed in. For example, after Dexter's first encounter with the Tamiami Butcher where the killer throws a head at his vehicle, they all immediately go to the ice rink (which is not featured until Episode 103: Popping Cherry) after the police arrive. Directly after that portion in the story, a man then confesses to the murders once he was arrested...which does not occur until mid-season in the TV series (with a different character as well).

Because of writers placing much of the first part of the novel within just a 60 minute episode, many storyline's rose up to expand the season. Immediately in Episode 102: Crocodile, we're introduced to Matt Chambers and the Carlos Guerrero mini-arc (that lasts 3 episodes) while the Ice Truck Killer storyline is somewhat kept in the background, until reemerging significantly in the following episode with the ice rink. Much of the second half of the Season has to do with Rudy Cooper (whom is actually Brian Moser) leading Dexter towards his past both indirectly and directly (actually speaking with him and seeing Debra Morgan). The Season closes out with Brian dying by Dexter's hand, which is not the case in the novels as he disappears until the 5th book, reintroducing himself to the family.

Some character differences can be noted as well. First and foremost, Maria LaGuerta is now Migdia LaGuerta and a much harsher woman. She also is VERY open about her attraction to Dexter, which was only slightly hinted upon within the first episode of the TV series until that completely died out. However, specifically noted by Dexter, she has hardly a brain in the slightest and is undeserving of her position as Detective (which is changed to Lieutenant in the series). Migdia constantly belittles any correct information from Deborah, whom she calls "Officer Punta" and "Einstein" (based upon Deb's womanly parts...a joke she spread throughout the station to ruin Deb's reputation), instead playing out a highly ignorant role of assuming evidence and not actually thinking about the case...thus leading her to chase after a non-existent witness, then arrest a man who "fits the case" based on a trick played by the Tamiami Butcher. At the very end of the novel, Migdia meets her end by dying from knife wounds from Brian Moser...which later makes Sergeant Albert Doakes suspect Dexter extremely.

Other characters can be noted as having name changes such as Vince Masuka now being Vince Masuoka, Debra Morgan becoming Deborah Morgan and James Doakes is Albert Doakes. Angel Batista is often called Angel-no-Relation instead of just "Batista", like he is in the series..and the Ice Truck Killer is called the Tamiami Butcher despite the fact that an icetruck is used in the murders. Characters such as Masuka and Batista are also fairly minor within this novel, appearing at crime scenes certainly...but they have no extended roles beyond that which would make them important. Captain Tom Matthews is also even more minor than he is in the series, only appearing as a "spiritual" character most of the time that helps out from the background.

Dexter's personality may appear to be more or less human than it does in the series, however he is a lot more psychological in this novel as he spends a lot of time speaking from within his head. He is less in touch with his human emotions and anything even slightly resembling it makes him feel "so this is what a person feels". His urge to kill is not as powerful as it is in the series, as half the book is over with before he decides to find another victim.


  1. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Chapter 1 and 2

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