After the only partially entertaining misstep of Dexter in The Dark I was hoping for a return to the killer charm of the first two books in this series. The first two chapters in this fourth installment titled Dexter By Design began to fulfill that exception. The devilish wit was back along with a smart introduction to the theme of "murder as art". Yet soon the novel descended into being the most disappointing of the series. Like the third book, it isn't that it is not entertaining. But the author seems to be running out of steam. There are some promising ideas in this book; The two little children as mini-Dexters and Deborah's conflict with her brother's dark passenger for instance. And I cheered at the return of Doakes. Yet none of these take off and we are left with a loosely constructed story that pales with the other plots in this series and is, to be frank, full of holes bigger than the ones Dexter makes with his knife. And while we are on the topic, Is Dexter wimping out? Even a nice serial killer should be doing some serial killing. That's what makes Dexter...well... Dexter. The really ironic thing is that the Dexter TV series has become much more original and daring than the novels. Yes, I liked this enough, so I'll move it to two and a half stars, However, the fifth installment will really need to pick up the pace to keep me interested. I understand it will be called Dexter is Delicious and will involve cannibalism. Dare I hope?