My favorite fictional serial killer is Hannibal Lecter. This was his debut, Thomas Harris' Red Dragon.
Author: Thomas Harris
Publisher: Berkley (reprint, originally Dell)
American release date: January 6, 2009
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/Thriller/464 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: NR
Overall Personal Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Similar series or titles to check out: Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what FBI agent Jack Crawford wants of Will Graham—especially with the headlines blaring about the two murders; one in Atlanta, the other in Birmingham. More than enough reason for Crawford to come down to Florida, to get the consultant’s take on the killer. The choice of locale is deliberate—when he shows Will the photos of the deceased families, children included, he can’t help but contrast that with his own wife and stepson. How can he refuse to help catch someone who hurts children?
Will hasn’t been with the FBI since before he met Molly, leaving the Bureau after his unfortunate encounter with a particular serial killer by the name of Hannibal Lecter—an encounter he almost didn’t survive. Nonetheless, and against Molly’s wishes, he agrees to help the FBI find the killer the media has dubbed the Tooth Fairy. First he travels to Atlanta, to the house the Leeds family had lived in. Everything is still in place, waiting for them, as if expecting them home at any moment. Will looks at their life, in situ, trying to piece together what happened to them so he can determine what sort of person did this and create a profile for the FBI to use in order to look for him.
It’s the little things that speak to him, cause him to ask questions. He tries to make sense of the bloodstains, figure out what happened when. Why did the killer move the family around? Was there a purpose to his madness? And by any chance when he did, did he leave a fingerprint behind?
The murders each took place during the full moon, which surely isn’t coincidence, and which means they only have less than a month til the next one. Before the next full moon, they not only have to figure out who this guy is but who his next victims will be, before it’s too late. Will gets more and more engrossed in the chase, while somewhere in the Midwest a man is planning his next move—and his Becoming. Will decides he needs to consult with someone, the only person he knows that can shed some light on this killer—Dr. Hannibal Lecter himself. Will this encounter end better than the last one? And will the good doctor deign to cooperate?
Add to the mix a sleazy tabloid reporter with a penchant for stirring the shit so it hits the fan, and a killer with a deep seated admiration for Dr. Lecter—you’ve got a sure fire recipe for death and mayhem!
In this first volume of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal series, we get a glimpse of his extraordinary character, Dr. Lecter. I think he is undoubtedly one of the greatest characters ever created, with a great deal of depth and far more to him than meets the eye. There are things we won’t even learn about him in this volume; it’s just a teaser for what comes later. This book is Will Graham’s story and how he deals with having met Hannibal in the past and his need to consult him in the present. It’s about his desire to preserve his way of life balanced against the desire to save innocent lives from a deranged madman. Which side will win?
It’s brilliantly written, fast paced and well executed. The character of Francis Dolarhyde is well drawn, and not above eliciting sympathy for what he cannot help. His unraveling is fascinating to behold—and he does not go down alone.
This is a must read introduction to the world of Hannibal Lecter—it sets the stage and sets it well for what comes after. Not to be missed at any price.