The cover of DOUBLE DEXTER --- Jeff Lindsay’s latest novel concerning modern thriller fiction’s most self-satisfied serial killer --- hastens to advise prospective readers that contained within the bindings of this particular volume is an all-new Dexter case you won’t see on TV. If you are watching the Showtime/CBS series but haven’t been reading the books, then you are missing multiple facets of Lindsay’s creation that the program only hints at.
"There are twists and turns galore, not to mention buckets full of dark and grim humor."
In print, Lindsay really burrows deeply into the psyche of Dexter Morgan, the monster who is the blood splatter expert extraordinaire for the Miami Police Department. It’s not that the television series isn’t wonderful (it is); it’s simply that Lindsay does such a wonderful job on his canvas of choice. Add to the mix the fact that neither the show nor the novels are required to hew too closely to each other, and you have an embarrassment of bloody riches, a butchered whole that is greater than the sum of its severed parts.
Having said that, DOUBLE DEXTER would adapt wonderfully to television, which is all the more reason to read it. Its thrust is that the unthinkable but inevitable happens: Dexter gets caught in the act of taking a most deserving piece off the board. The person who catches him soon learns who Dexter is, but it takes Dexter a while to find out who that individual is. In the meantime, Dexter becomes the subject of imitation, but it’s not as a form of flattery, sincere or otherwise. His double, if you will, is just as twisted as he is, only more so, and doesn’t possess his moral center, such as it is. This chilling reflection of Dexter isn’t channeling an urge to kill by punishing the guilty; anyone they might cross paths with is fair game. And they are not shy about letting Dexter know that he is on their victim list as well.
It’s not like Dexter doesn’t have enough to worry about. He has his genius infant daughter; his stepchildren; Rita, his eccentric wife, who is behaving even more strangely than usual, if such a thing is possible; his sister Deborah, she of the sour disposition and foul mouth who is a pain in Dexter’s posterior; and, of course, there is Brian, Dexter’s brother, who is just as twisted as he is. Dexter is also involved in a case wherein someone is slaughtering Miami law enforcement officers in a particularly heinous manner, which is almost worthy of Dexter himself. I also neglected to mention that Rita wants to move her growing family into a bigger home, and you will never believe who is helping her with the task of finding a likely location, and where it leads Dexter. It’s not to a good place. It goes without saying that when one is playing a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, one does not need distractions, especially when it is quite difficult to determine who is Tom and who is Jerry.
DOUBLE DEXTER is an accurate title, though it’s a bit misleading. There can be only one Dexter; determining who that is, and who that is not, is what makes this possibly the best installment in the series to date. There are twists and turns galore, not to mention buckets full of dark and grim humor. Again, if your only familiarity with Dexter’s world is through television, you owe it to yourself to visit his place of origin, located between the bindings in the state of print. And DOUBLE DEXTER would be a great place to start.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 20, 2011