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Will Graham stands in a silent, empty house communing with a killer. An FBI instructor with a gift for hunting madmen, Graham knows what his murderer looks like, how he thinks, and what he did to his victims after they died. Now Graham must try to catch him. But to do it, he must feel the heat of a killer’s brain, draw on the macabre advice of a dangerous mental patient, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and follow a trail of microscopic clues to the place where another family has already been chosen to die–and where an innocent woman has found the Dragon first.

– Goodreads

Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter, #1)

The first book in the Hannibal Lecter series, Red Dragon has more to do with Francis Dolarhyde than with Dr. Lecter. We only get few glimpses of the doctor while too much of the novel is eaten up by Will, Jack & Francis.

What I liked:

  • Francis’s story & how his past has moulded his present. The man passes off a normal person, is even considered attractive by women, but beneath all that hides a monster. But that is not the end of Francis Dolarhyde’s story. Thomas Harris doesn’t just leave it at that. He allows even the monster to grow, feel love & try to change for it. It is touching to see the extreme effects which his grandmother’s hate & Reba’s love have on Francis. Even among all the monsters in the world of books, this one is more a victim of the monster in his head than a true killer himself.
  • Reba McClane was an amazing character. She provided a great insight in to the world of the blind. She is courageous, hard working, independent, intelligent & loving as well. Not many women can claim to possess all that & yet be likable too.
  • The way the Dragon & Will dealt with Freddie Lounds was horrifying & yet awesome at the same time. It was the one single story point in the novel which was a page turner.
  • Dr. Alan Bloom is awesome in the novel. I can’t believe, Dr. Alana Bloom who is supposed to be his female version on the show is that incredibly stupid.

What I did not like:

  • Thomas Harris’s style of writing. It is too abrupt & jerky at times. He keeps on switching the narration between the characters which can be a little confusing at times.
  • Francis Dolarhyde & Dr. Lecter  are the only interesting characters in the book. Will Graham is too very dull to keep things interesting. Also, unnecessary detailing of the endless police procedures slows down the novel & drags the suspense unnecessarily.

This book has little or no impact on the story of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. He is awesome even without it & it does not add anything extraordinary to his story. Thomas Harris could have easily given this a miss or written it as an independent novel.

Some quotes from the book:

“Fear comes with imagination, it’s a penalty, it’s the price of imagination.”

“What he has in addition is pure empathy and projection,” Dr. Bloom said. “He can assume your point of view, or mine – and maybe some other points of view that scare and sicken him. It’s an uncomfortable gift, Jack. Perception’s a tool that’s pointed on both ends.”

“Don’t think you can persuade me with appeals to my intellectual vanity.”

“He’s a monster. I think of him as one of those pitiful things that are born in hospitals from time to time. They feed it, and keep it warm, but they don’t put it on the machines and it dies. Lecter is the same way in his head, but he looks normal and nobody could tell.”

“You know what he said? Bloom said maybe he’s trying to stop.”