RARA-AVIS: Re: Dexter

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 01 Sep 2007


Re your comment below:

"I read the first book when it came out in mass market paperback. It wasn't a bad book, but I didn't feel compelled to buy the sequel, and I haven't had any interest in watching the show. I think you're interest in Dexter as a character will be directly proportional to you're interest in serial killers. I tend to find them uninteresting."

Intersting you should say that. Fictionally, I think it's all in the treatment, but what your post got me thinking about was real life.

I'm on the Edgar true-crime committee this year, and one of the books submitted for consideration was about Wichita's BTK Killer.

Without comment on the quality of the book (which I'm not allowed to do as a member of the committee), the thing that struck me all through reading it was what a basically uninteresting character BTK really was. He was a textbook example of "the banality of evil."

The image we have, thank to novels and TV, is either of evil geniuses, a la Hannibal Lector, or fearsome, almost supernatural monsters like "Chaingang" in the novels of Rex Miller or the various villains in Michale Slayde's Mountie series.

But here was a guy, raised by decent people, who went on to rais decent people himself, living what was a pretty dull suburban life, who had this whole secret hobby that involved breaking into people's homes and killing them. And rather than being the result of child abuse, or twisted impulses that he couldn't resist (because he DID resist them, for years at a time), it was all just based on some trivial fantasies he decided to act out.

Oddly, his very dullness made him that much more frightening.


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