Jeff Lindsay is the bestselling author of Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Dearly Devoted Dexter, Dexter in the Dark, Dexter by Design, Dexter is Delicious and Double Dexter. The first book in the Dexter series, Darkly Dreaming Dexter was included on the original nomination list for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards in the Best First Novel category. However, it was dropped from the list after the group learned that Lindsay had put out several books in the 1990s under another pen name, Jeffrey P. Lindsay.
Dexter aired as a 2006 TV series on Showtime with the first season closely based on Darkly Dreaming Dexter. In both the novels and the TV series, Dexter is a forensic blood spatter analyst who works for the Miami Police Department; in his spare time, he is a serial killer but only preys on other murderers who have escaped the justice system. The program’s first season was largely based on the first novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, but the following seasons veered away from the book.
Dexter considers himself emotionally divorced from the rest of humanity; in his narration, he refers to “humans” as if he is not one himself. Paradoxically, Dexter likes children, finding them to be much more interesting than their parents. This affinity causes Dexter to be particularly wrathful when his victims prey on children. His connection to Rita’s children, Astor and Cody, sometimes supersedes his relationship with Rita. For example, in the novels, Dexter continues his relationship with Rita because he realizes that Rita’s children are exhibiting the same signs of sociopathy he did at their age, and tries to control it by providing them with “guidance”. Animals don’t like Dexter, which can cause noise problems when he stalks a victim who has pets. The novels reveal that he once owned a dog that barked and growled at him until he was forced to get rid of it and a turtle that hid from him in its shell until it died of starvation.
In both the book and series, Dexter’s modus operandi serves not only to maximize the satisfaction he derives from killing his victims, but to minimize, if not eliminate, any forensic or circumstantial evidence and ensure that he does not target innocents. Dexter selects his victims according to his adoptive father’s code, determines definitively if they are murderers or not, and (only on the show) typically meets them prior to killing them to establish if they are likely to kill again. The actual capture of his victims differs between the books and the show. On the show, it usually entails approaching the victims from behind and injecting them with an anesthetic which renders his victims temporarily unconscious. In the books he hides in the back seat of his victim’s vehicle, then wraps a noose of fishing line around his victim’s throat when he sits down. He then uses the threat of asphyxiation to force his victim to drive them to his prepared kill site. In the books, Dexter always wears a mask to keep them from identifying him; on the show he doesn’t wear a mask at all, which has nearly gotten him into trouble on a number of occasions, but can be seen as an intentional break from realism for the purposes of seeing the actor perform. Just before the murder, Dexter collects trophies from his victims so he can relive the experience. Dexter’s trophy signature is to slice the victim’s cheek with a surgical scalpel underneath the victim’s right eye and to collect a small blood sample, which he preserves between two laboratory slides. In the TV show, Dexter keeps blood slides from all his victims neatly organized in a wooden filing box, which he hides inside his air conditioner; in the novels he keeps them in a rosewood box on his bookcase.
In the novel Brian escapes Miami after killing Dexter’s boss, Lt. Maria LaGuerta, but returns in Dexter is Delicious. On the show, however, Dexter catches and kills Brian, aware that he would never stop trying to kill Debra or other innocent people.