Dexter by Design
United Kingdom first edition hardback cover
|Cover artist||Edward Bettison - Design & Art Direction|
|Publisher||Orion Books Limited|
|February 2009 (UK),
September 2009 (U.S.)
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|Pages||304 (Hardcover February 2009 edition)|
|Preceded by||Dexter in the Dark|
|Followed by||Dexter Is Delicious|
Dexter by Design (2009) is a psychological thriller written by Jeff Lindsay. It is the fourth novel in the Dexter series, preceded by Darkly Dreaming Dexter (which formed the basis for the Showtime television series Dexter), Dearly Devoted Dexter, and Dexter in the Dark.
Dexter by Design was released in the United Kingdom on February 19, 2009.
After the events of Dexter in the Dark, Dexter is eager to resume his hobby, but first must endure a honeymoon in Paris with his unsuspecting wife Rita. At an art gallery, Dexter and Rita are introduced to the concept of body parts being used as art by an avant-garde performance piece called "Jennifer's Leg" in which the artist amputates her own limb.
On returning home, Dexter finds that his relationship with his sister, Deborah Morgan, has become strained since she learned of his murderous pastime at the end of the first book. Deborah is a Sergeant detective in the Miami Police Department's Homicide Unit and is torn between loyalty to her brother and their father (who trained Dexter to confine his murderous impulses to other killers, and taught him how to escape detection) and her duty as a police officer to arrest him.
At work, Dexter is called to investigate a gruesome tableau on a local beach, where a pair of bodies have been mutilated and arranged in a display that parodies the state's tourist trade.
At home, Rita is concerned for her children, Cody and Astor, who appear withdrawn and different from normal children. Dexter knows that the two share his pathology (which he calls the Dark Passenger) and has promised to train them to kill those who "deserve it", as his adoptive father, Harry, trained him. Cody is enrolled as a Cub Scout, which Rita believes will help him to bond with normal children. Dexter believes it will help him learn how to pretend to be normal.
Dexter Morgan: Traumatized as a child by witnessing his mother's brutal murder in a drug deal gone wrong, Dexter was adopted by Harry Morgan, a policeman with the Miami Police Department. After finding out that young Dexter was killing neighborhood pets, Harry realized that the boy was a violent sociopath, and took it upon himself to train him to kill only people who were themselves killers. Dexter became a forensic specialist analysing blood splatter for the Miami Police Department. In his time off, he stalks and kills people who have gotten away with murder, in order to satisfy an inner voice he calls "The Dark Passenger". He has recently married his girlfriend, Rita, who has two children by a previous marriage.
Deborah Morgan: Dexter's adoptive sister and a police detective with the homicide department of Miami Police Department. Deborah has recently learned of Dexter's "hobby", and feels conflicted about keeping it a secret. Further complicating her feelings is the fact that Dexter saved her boyfriend, Kyle Chutsky, from a particularly brutal serial killer in Dearly Devoted Dexter
Kyle Chutsky: A former government operative (from an unknown agency) who lost a hand and a foot in the events described in Dearly Devoted Dexter. Boyfriend of Deborah Morgan.
Brandon Weiss: A Canadian citizen who lives in Miami and kills people as a form of avant-garde art, motivated by a desire for revenge against the Miami tourist board, a former employer.
Rita Morgan: Dexter's new wife and mother to Cody and Astor. Rita is completely unaware of Dexter's double life.
Cody and Astor: Rita's son and daughter. Both children were traumatized having been abused by their drug addict father, Rita's husband. Dexter knows that they are both showing the same signs of sociopathy that he did at that age, and has promised to teach them how to kill in the same way that Harry taught him.
The themes in Dexter by Design include the morality of taking human life and provides commentary on the human condition from an "outsider's point of view", both of which are common to the Dexter series of novels. The major themes of this particular novel are the arts, specifically modern and experimental art.
Dexter by Design briefly mentions internet fame, and includes several references to YouTube.
Literary significance and reception
Dexter by Design received a very positive response from critics, as opposed to the less than favourable reviews of the previous entry in the series.
"A clever, sardonic, constantly surprising novel that reveals Dexter to be much better company than Hannibal Lecter. The incredibly gory climax is both horrifying and hilarious - a very difficult trick to pull off. If only all thrillers could be this good." Evening Standard
"Another very successful encounter with the wickedly entertaining Dexter... there are genuinely funny situations, very clever plots and many excellent one-liners. Dexter has a way of getting under your skin and making you like him." Matthew Lewin, The Guardian
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
Showtime produces a television series based on the Dexter novels called Dexter, the first season of which is partially influenced by the first book in the series. Later seasons borrow from other elements in later books, but thereafter, the books and television series go separate ways, with many significant changes.
- Hardback, United Kingdom, Orion, ISBN 978-0-7528-8517-9, 19 February 2009
- Paperback, United Kingdom, Orion, ISBN 978-0-7528-9757-8, February 2009
- Paperback, United Kingdom, Orion, ISBN 978-1-4091-0325-7, August 2009
- Paperback, United Kingdom, Orion, ISBN 978-0-7528-8461-5, August 2009
- Hardback, United States, Doubleday, ISBN 978-0-385-51836-9, 8 September 2009