Dearly Devoted Dexter
|Genre||Crime, horror novel|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Preceded by||Darkly Dreaming Dexter|
|Followed by||Dexter in the Dark|
Dearly Devoted Dexter (2005) is a crime/horror novel by Jeff Lindsay, the second in his series about psychopathic vigilante Dexter Morgan, which has been adapted into a television series. It is narrated by the title character.
Sergeant Doakes, a detective in Homicide, has grown suspicious of Dexter and is obsessively tailing him in his free time. This makes it impossible for Dexter to investigate (and perhaps kill) someone he suspects of complicity in the abduction, sexual abuse, and murder of a series of young boys.
When an unknown man is found bizarrely mutilated, Doakes recognizes the work of a torturer nicknamed "Doctor Danco" (after a brand of knives), who served with Doakes during the Salvadoran Civil War and has come to Miami to take revenge on his former comrades. Danco drugs his victims with painkillers and psychotropics and, over episodes lasting several days or weeks, surgically removes various combinations of their hands, feet, limbs, genitalia, lips, tongue, teeth, ears, nose, and eyelids. But he does grant them the courtesy of a carefully placed mirror. Dexter is drawn into the case when Danco abducts his sister Deborah's new boyfriend, detective Kyle Chutsky.
Amidst all the chaos, Dexter finds himself accidentally engaged to his girlfriend Rita. While trying to bond with Rita's children, Astor and Cody, he discovers that they are showing the same signs of sociopathy that he did at their age. He looks forward to teaching them to control their "Dark Passengers" as his foster father, Harry, had taught him to control his.
At the climax of the story, Dexter learns that Danco's murder ritual includes a word game resembling hangman. Each victim is asked to guess a word chosen for them by Danco. The word is a description of a grievous offense against Danco for which the victim is now to atone. Each wrong answer – or unintelligible answer, after removal of the tongue – results in the amputation of a body part. The maximum number of pieces removed corresponds to the number of letters in the mystery word that has been carefully chosen for that particular victim. The torture is conducted patiently and methodically to allow the victim time enough to recuperate and begin healing before the next atrocity is perpetrated upon his person. This fiendishly devious process is designed to maximize the psychological devastation as well as the physical destruction sustained without ever actually killing the subject.
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