double dexter

My husband and I enjoy the Dexter TV series, and we had a long drive for Thanksgiving last week, so we borrowed the audiobook Double Dexter from the library thinking it would be something we’d both like. I’m glad the Dexter book world deviates from the TV show some, to spice things up from what we know in that world, but I think this probably isn’t the best Dexter book to start with, if you’re seriously interested in the series. I hated to give it just a 2-star rating on Goodreads, but that’s where I am with it: it was okay. Maybe 2.5-star.

The plot was decent, with enough surprise twists to keep the story interesting, and pretty captivating for a long drive. It was fun to learn about characters we already knew (from TV) in this alternate universe. The version we listened to featured the author reading. Jeff Lindsay’s voice has that same calm, smooth, dark depth that the actor who plays Dexter on TV has—a nice touch for those familiar with the show.

Unfortunately, it is just impossible to stop with the comparisons to the show, especially since I have no experience with the previous books in the series. Noticeably, characters long dead on the show are alive in the books, characters know more or less about Dexter than they do in the show, major characters on the show are very minor characters here and vice versa, and personalities are starkly different. Rita plays a large part in Double Dexter and might possibly be the most annoying literary character I have ever encountered. I was disappointed in general with the portrayals of women in this book—either annoying bitchy nags, expected to be submissive and in the kitchen, over-aggressive caricatures… each was one-dimensional, it seemed, and tired old stereotypes are exaggerated. Characters I really like on the show—Masuoka and Batista—are merely bit parts here.

Dexter is meaner in this book than in the show, less sympathetic a character. I had trouble with his frequent mentions of “not being human” or not feeling human emotions, when so clearly his baby daughter strongly affects him, and he panics at the threat of a witness to his murderous actions, and displays shock and personal offense in certain situations. It just didn’t ring true to me. I really, REALLY didn’t like his near-constant obsession with Rita’s cooking… namely his complaining that she wasn’t cooking him dinner regularly anymore, that she didn’t have a meal ready for him when he got home, etc. Seriously? I hope this was supposed to be a device to show that routine was important to Dexter and any deviation throws him off badly, but this just came off as ignorant, misogynistic whining.

Again the plot is pretty good, and generally meets expectations for Dexter fans. The numerous scenes between Dexter and Rita arguing, banal family scenes, and his seemingly endless internal musings detracted from the quality of the story. A stronger editing hand was needed—there is no reason this audiobook had to be 12.5 hours long. More attention to the mystery and suspense, and more descriptive, in-the-moment killings would have made this a much better book for me.

Listened to audiobook from November 21 to 25, 2012.

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