Let me start by saying that when I started reading this series, I had not watched the TV show that they are based on. When TV shows or movies are based on a book or series of books, I always prefer to read the book before seeing the show or movie. I can honestly say that for this series, I enjoyed both.
In Darkly Dreaming Dexter, we are introduced to our protagonist when he is at his happy slashing best. We are given some background into who Dexter is and more importantly, why he is the way he is. His adoptive father Harry is a cop who realizes when Dexter is a teenager that there is something different about him. Dexter is a serial killer! Realizing that he will never be able to change Dexter, Harry instead crafts a serial killer code that Dexter must live by. Instead of running amok around the city of Miami, Dexter takes care of those who have escaped justice at the hands of the law.
How does Dexter get away with being a serial killer? Well on top of being trained by a cop, Dexter himself is a blood splatter analyst with the police department. Who better than to get away with murder than someone who spends his days investigating them? Joined by his adopted sister Deborah, who is also a cop, Dexter begins investigating a pecuilar series of murders. Sooner rather than later Dexter begins to feel a certain affinity with his fellow artist.
Dexter really is the best anti-hero I have ever read about. I find myself, despite knowing that I probably shouldn't, always rooting for him. That is what is really special about this character. You know he is a killer. You know killing is wrong, no matter the reason. Somehow though, Jeff Lindsay has managed to create a character in Dexter that despite all of his perversion and murder, is just downright likeable. Dexter's sometimes bumbling attempts to fit in and appear normal are a large part of his appeal. He admits things in his inner monologue's that no one else would ever consider, and trust me, it's not just confined to the killing.
On it's own, the book is great. It is not laugh out loud funny, but gave me more than a few laughs with Dexter's dry sarcastic wit and macabre sense of humor. The plot moved along well, and Jeff Lindsay really found the perfect balance between past/present; giving some very good insight into Dexter's character. I must say that I was surprised by the ending, and that is not something that happens often.