Dexter, the genre’s beloved serial killer, has returned to haunt the streets of Miami. Juggling his pending marriage to Rita and his job as a crime scene investigator, Dexter, as usual, supplements his activities with the occasional murder, removing other monsters, the planet better off for their loss. Carefully nurtured by his mentor, Harry, only to inflict his passion on those who prey on the innocent, Dexter maintains a fine balance between work and “play”.
Committing to marriage isn’t easy for Dexter, his inclination to remain at large to pursue his nocturnal interests, but a good disguise is imperative in his line of work and Rita, with two children, provides the perfect cover. Not to mention that seven-year-old Cody and nine-year-old Astor are exhibiting interesting qualities of their own. Abused for years by their father, the children are quite curious about Dexter’s extracurricular activities, eager to get to know their new father better.
Finishing up a late night slice-and-dice, Dexter is sure that he is being watched. Even more disturbing, the Dark Passenger disappears. Virtually an alter ego, the Passenger has never abandoned Dexter; without the Dark Passenger, Dexter loses his sensitivity to danger and to others of his ilk who pose a threat.
Dexter has the sensation of being watched when leaving the scene of a grisly crime, the charred remains of two headless, unidentifiable bodies. Indeed, he is correct; the Watcher tracks his every move. Never one to be troubled with emotions, Dexter is precipitously assaulted by the unfamiliar, fear and rage his new, unwelcome companions. As the number of charred and headless bodies increases, Dexter works alongside his half-sister, Deborah, unable to provide the usual insights provided by the Dark Passenger.
As the case gets more complicated and Deborah’s temper grows shorter, Dexter struggles with his changed environment, the Passenger no longer there to protect his interests. Researching obscure tattoos on the corpses’ necks, Dexter is finally able to tap into a whole new area of research, one fraught with ancient ritual, and, of course, human sacrifice.
Not only is Dexter certain he is being followed, but the investigation leaks into his personal life, a late-night attack on his home that terrifies Rita and the children and his own increasing feeling of helplessness. But Dexter is no slacker, albeit unskilled in the emotional terrain of humans; the children threatened, Dexter’s paternity is awakened, as well as his rage. Unwilling to accept his fate, Dexter finally fights back against a foe that would see him annihilated, proving there are many kinds of monsters in the world.
In his third Dexter novel, Lindsay has proven himself equal to the task, a macabre stew of murder, mayhem and deserving corpses, Dexter brilliantly sardonic even in the throes of his deepest distress.