Dexter Season 4, and “Dexter by Design”

dexter-by-design.jpgPam and I finished watching season 4 of “Dexter.” The first season, with the Ice Truck Killer, was the best. But I’d rank season 4 as the second-best, thanks to the work of John Lithgow as the guest serial killer. Fairly early in the season, Dexter learns that the Lithgow character is the Trinity Killer they are looking for, and he strikes up a friendship with him. It develops in fascinating ways, starting with demented admiration and quickly deteriorating.

I consider Dexter a guilty pleasure. I don’t like seeing movies with central characters who use drugs…yet I’m okay with the hero being a serial killer? I guess I justify it by the fact that the Dexter books are published under my beloved Black Lizard imprint, and that Dexter comes under the general category of roman noir, an umbrella which takes in Jim Thompson and other great pulp writers.

Speaking of the books…..

I just finished the fourth Dexter book, “Dexter by Design,” by Jeff Lindsey. At this point, it’s definite: the TV show and books have gone their separate ways. The first book was spread over the whole first season, scripted closely. But now, everything’s different. The books and TV series bear little resemblance.

For instance, Sergeant Doakes died in season 2 of the TV show, but he lives on in the books, although with some appendages missing. Dexter is married to Rita in the books, but Rita’s 2 children are, like Dexter, “damaged” and in need of the same direction he received from his father to channel his killer impulses. That’s a start to the differences.

I’ll also say this: the TV show is much, MUCH better. The first book was great, the second one very good, the third one terrible, the fourth one a bit less than okay. In “Dexter by Design,” very little seemed to happen. There was way too much of Dexter, the narrator, reflecting on his Dark Passenger. It just got old. I’ll keep reading the books, but only because of the black lizard on the spine.

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