"Double Dexter" by Jeff Lindsay
Double Dexter, the sixth installment of Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series, is going to be familiar territory for fans of the novels and Showtime subscribers alike. Personally, I happen to be a bigger fan of the show, having watched every season. Michael C. Hall absolutely owns it as the serial killing blood spatter analyst, and it’s this version of the character that stuck with me when reading the novel, dulcet tones and all.
Lindsay’s novel abides by roughly the same formula that I’ve grown accustomed to by watching the series:
-Dexter Morgan has a game of cat and mouse with a murderous opponent, using his position with the Miami-Dade Police Department to his utmost advantage.
-During his pursuit, Dexter must keep all evidence of his undertakings a secret, both from his family and those he works with. Sergeant James Doakes continues to be the only one who suspects Dexter for what he really is.
-Despite all obstacles, Dexter somehow manages to dispose of his adversary while keeping his personal and professional lives intact.
The structure isn’t anything new. It’s tested; it still works, and Lindsay does an excellent job of posing those urgent questions that keep a reader moving along. The main one being in regards to a witness who has seen Dexter Dealing Death to a clown/child killer, a clear violation of The Code of Harry. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s a litany of rules Dexter abides by when choosing and disposing of his victims, established by his foster father. Dexter has just broken one of the bigger ones: don’t get caught.
This sends Dexter into a spiral of paranoia and irritability, as he’s now relegated to waiting for the proverbial hammer to come down upon him. The situation escalates when our mysterious witness actively begins toying with Dexter through a series of emails of an “I know who you are but you don’t know me” nature.
“I’m closer than you think.”
Dexter does more than his fair share of uncomfortable squirming in this one, conceding that his opponent always seems to be one step ahead of him. Yet, as always, Dexter takes the singular clue he’s been given and manages to turn the tables. The prey becomes the predator, and so Dexter launches one final all out assault with lives other than his own hanging in the balance. A rather vague synopsis, yes, but I’m trying to keep this as spoiler-free as possible.
Now when reviewing a Dexter novel, there’s a tendency to want to either compare it to its predecessors or the TV series, and in that regard, this one concentrates more on Dexter’s psychological anguish rather than action. The hardcover’s tagline of: “He’s back and deadlier than ever” is a blatant mislead as the official kill count for Dexter is singular, and that happens at the very beginning of the novel. There are two other murders, but they’re dealt out indirectly, and I think the reader might be surprised how these come about—maybe even a little dissatisfied if the saving grace angle isn’t their particular cup of tea. Our Darkly Dreaming Dexter has shifted to something more domesticated, and maybe even a little bit diluted by the task of being the father of three and devoted husband. The emotionless shell now struggles with his emerging sense of humanity, and it’s this turmoil that might split Lindsay’s readers into two camps: the ones that embrace the evolution of the character and those that yearn for the Dark Defender he used to be.
Double Dexter showcases Lindsay’s ability to put us in the headspace of a serial killer and is a shining example of a page-turner, however, this is a more mild affair than previous excursions. The thrill of this novel lies in the pursuit, not so much the payoff. In the spectrum of Dexter’s adventures, Double Dexter is good, but this book’s mildly-formidable opponent and average climax kept it from being great.
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