Sunday, September 13, 2009
Dexter Morgan and his wife Rita are in Paris on their honeymoon as the book opens. Rita is enthralled with all things Parisian but Dexter and his Dark Passenger are impatient that they aren't in a place safe to exercise their homicidal proclivities. On leaving the Louvre they are handed a flyer advertising an exhibit of performance art called Jennifer's Leg. This does satisfy Dexter's inner dark needs.
Back at work in Miami, Dexter is sent to a crime scene where he finds the bodies of a man and woman - "pale, overweight, and hairy" - decoratively arranged in a theme guaranteed to send shudders through the tourism industry. Almost immediately, another body, also artfully arranged in a tourism themed pose, is discovered.
Soon Dexter finds his sister in the hospital and himself and his new family stalked and in danger of becoming part of an art project.
Dexter by Design is an entertaining read. Dexter is given some excellent sarcastic and sardonic commentary and the anti-tourism themed performance art is amusingly macabre.
As for me, while I enjoyed parts, I find it is time to part company with the book series. The previous book, Dexter in the Dark, really annoyed me when it revealed the Dexter's Dark Passenger is actually the spawn of an entity that has existed since earth's beginnings jumping from life form to life form until humans gained sentience. That aspect of Dexter isn't played up as much here but the presence of a giggling dark force that exists separately from but motivates Dexter is not what I want in crime fiction. It moves it out of any possibility of social commentary and into the realm of the supernatural. I'm not opposed to that sub-genre but it isn't what I want in a story.
Dexter in the Dark introduced a sub-plot involving Rita's children Cody and Aster and their relationship with Dexter. It is continued here and is one that I'm not comfortable with. I would have a serious problem with the books if that storyline progresses much further in the direction it seems to be going.
I would recommend Dexter by Design for readers who enjoyed all three of the previous books. They will find much to please them.