The Best Dexter Book Reading Order

The Dexter series is a highly popular series of books about the vigilante serial killer Dexter Morgan.

There are eight books in the series and the final book finished the story of Dexter Morgan completely.

Dexter Book Order

There are no plans for any future books. Each book fits in the crime horror genre and has a dark sense of humor, making them contrasting but interesting reads.

The books were written by author Jeff Lindsay.

The Dexter series is by far Lindsay’s most popular work, but he has also written the Riley Wolfe series and a few stand-alone novels.

He has also penned a series of Dexter graphic novels published by Marvel Comics.

An adaptation of the Dexter series was created by Showtime and eight seasons of the Dexter TV show were produced.

The show was immensely popular and even won a couple of Golden Globes and a Peabody Award.

About Dexter

The main character in the Dexter series is Dexter Morgan, a forensic blood-splatter expert that works for the Miami police department.

He is regularly called to crime scenes to investigate and help the police with their investigations.

His sister, Deborah, is a detective in the same department and Dexter has a beautiful girlfriend, Rita, and two adorable step-children. On the face of it, Dexter has everything.

However, Dexter has a dark secret. Living inside him is something he calls his Dark Passenger and this entity drives Dexter to commit his own murders.

Dexter manages to find a balance and this leads to him only killing those he feels deserve it.

Dexter deals with many different themes. The books are all written in Dexter’s first-person narrative so the reader is able to see the world through Dexter’s eyes as he ponders the morality of his actions.

The theme of justice and who is responsible for delivering this echoes throughout the entire series.

There are also strong themes relating to family and loyalty.

As Dexter’s relationship with Rita deepens, he tries to be a good husband and step-father while he also tries to ignore the Dark Passenger within.

Family loyalties are tested throughout the developments in the series as other characters react to Dexter’s actions.

Dexter Books In Order

Let’s look at the Dexter books in order.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Dexter Morgan is a forensic blood-splatter expert by day and a vigilante serial killer by night.

He only targets bad people who get away with their crimes and keeps to this strict moral code.

However, a series of murder victims that all bear a striking resemblance to his own way of killing start to appear.

Dexter finds himself drawn to the murderer and pulled into a cat-and-mouse game.


  • Good balance of horror and humor
  • Interesting mystery at the heart of the book


  • The first-person narration of the protagonist can be difficult to relate to

Dearly Devoted Dexter

Dearly Devoted Dexter

Dexter tries his hand at being a normal guy to avoid any suspicion that may fall his way.

However, his quiet life doesn’t last for long as a new killer appears and leaves a disturbing trail through Miami that even Dexter is shocked by.

Dexter’s cop sister Deborah is assigned the case but Dexter is also drawn into trying to find the culprit.


  • Sets up characters for future stories well
  • Keeps up the black humor of the first book


  • The slow pace can be difficult to push through

Dexter In The Dark

Dexter in the Dark

Dexter and his fiancé have a wedding to plan while Dexter struggles with his role as a step-father, especially as his two step-kids are odd in their own rights.

Dexter’s struggles are made worse by the disappearance of his Dark Passenger, leaving him alone for the first time in his life.

This is not what he needed, especially as he’s being hunted by an evil and sinister enemy.


  • Faster and more thrilling pace
  • Dexter is a more-rounded character


  • The paranormal twists are divisive and don’t appeal to everyone

Dexter By Design

dexter by design

Although Dexter is eager to return to his ordinary life of work and murder, he has a honeymoon to get through first.

When Dexter is called to investigate a murder scene on a beach, he is glad to have another case to solve.

He also has another case close to home, however, as he recognizes that his two step-children have more in common with their step-father than they probably should.


  • Dexter’s role as a husband and father expands his character more
  • Gripping storyline


  • Less focus on Dexter’s capabilities harms the story

Dexter Is Delicious

Dexter Is Delicious: Dexter Morgan (5)

Dexter is feeling good and tries to keep his Dark Passenger as subdued as possible.

Unfortunately, his work as a crime scene analyst gives his Dark Passenger plenty to play with as Dexter soon finds out.

When Dexter is called to investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl, he discovers that there is a group of cannibals on the loose and he’s the next meal on their menu.


  • Interesting twists and turns throughout
  • Fun villains that are different from previous villains in the series


  • Some aspects of the plot are difficult to believe

Double Dexter

Double Dexter (Dexter, Book 6)

When Dexter is caught in the middle of his dark nightly activities by a witness, things begin to unravel.

Matters only get worse when Dexter is identified in the newspapers for his day job and Dexter soon finds himself with a blackmailing stalker on his hands.

Dexter has to use all of his investigative skills to track down the mysterious Shadow that is not only watching him but is also starting to copy his methods.


  • Dexter returns to his darker roots
  • Clever plot twists


  • Repetitive at times and could have benefited from a tighter edit

Dexter’s Final Cut

Dexter's Final Cut: Dexter Morgan (7) (Dexter Series)

Hollywood actor Robert Chase is well-known for being a method actor so when he has a role that requires connecting with the police, it brings him into the life of Dexter.

Chase becomes fascinated with Dexter and starts to shadow him, hoping to bring aspects of Dexter into his character.

Having a famous actor following him around cramps Dexter’s style and soon becomes a barrier to his nightly activities.


  • Good humor throughout the book
  • Interesting plot and new characters


  • Much slower and more introspective than previous books in the series

Dexter Is Dead

Dexter Is Dead: Dexter Morgan (8) (Dexter Series)

Dexter has reached the end of the line. He’s imprisoned on multiple counts of murder that he didn’t actually commit and everyone in his life has walked away and left him.

The only person that may be able to help is his homicidal brother, Brian.

However, Dexter needs to help Brian with something first. Dexter has nothing left to lose and everything to gain in this final book of the series.


  • Gives the series a definitive end
  • Interesting scenes between Dexter and his brother


  • Dexter’s character voice gets lost at times

Final Thoughts

In this article, I introduced the Dexter series of books. Created by Jeff Lindsay, the Dexter series covers eight books and begins with Darkly Dreaming Dexter.

The final book, Dexter is Dead, gives a definitive end to the series.

Throughout the books, Lindsay gives the reader the chance to see the world and story through the unique eyes of the protagonist, Dexter Morgan.

Dexter is a serial killer that only targets bad guys and his desire for murder is controlled by his Dark Passenger, an entity that lives within him.

The eight books deal with Dexter’s relationship with his Dark Passenger and how at times, Dexter welcomes it and at others, tries to push it away.

Dexter’s relationships with the humans in his life are equally complicated as he tries to lead a normal life while hiding such a dark secret.

Lindsay’s writing is full of dark humor and introspection and this can leave the reader laughing in one moment and horrified in the next.

The popularity of the books and their unique premise led to a highly-successful TV adaptation.

Even if you’ve seen all eight seasons of the show, however, you’re sure to find something new in the books.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some commonly asked questions about the Dexter series.

Do You Have To Read The Books In Order?

The books do build upon each other with story developments in earlier books being used to set up the plot in future books. For this reason, I would recommend that you read the series in order and not skip any books.

Is the Dexter Book Series Different From The TV Show?

Although the TV show is based on the characters and general story of the books, it does differ in several major ways. There are several plot lines in the TV show that never appeared in the books so even if you’ve seen the show, the books will be something new.

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Noah Burton