Dexter the Demon, Dexter the Avenger-whatever he chooses to call himself, the hero of this intelligent, darkly humorous series knows he's a monster who loves slicing people into little pieces. That Dexter limits his killing to "acceptable" victims-usually other serial killers-is designed to keep the reader from having to worry too much about the morality of his avocation. Dexter's just added his 40th victim, a homicidal pedophile, and is eagerly looking ahead to number 41 when he becomes involved in a case through his job as a blood spatter analyst at the Miami-Dade police forensics lab. A man is found with "everything on [his] body cut off, absolutely everything"-a piece of work that makes Dexter's own tidy killings look like child's play. This madman, nicknamed Danco, spends weeks surgically removing his victims' ears, lips, nose, arms, legs, etc., while keeping them alive to watch their own mutilation. Despite a certain professional admiration for Danco's dexterity, Dexter decides to take on the case. It's the contradictions in Dexter's character that make it all work-he's smart, he's funny, he cares for children, and yet he has no normal human responses or emotions. The first book in the series, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, was very well received; this one should be as well, and deservedly so.