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Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
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Red Dragon (original 1981; edition 1993)

by Thomas Harris

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6,68361560 (3.8)104
Member:.Monkey.
Title:Red Dragon
Authors:Thomas Harris
Info:London, Arrow Books, c.1981
Collections:Read, Read but unowned, Connectivity!
Rating:****1/2
Tags:fiction, .‼ 20th century, .♥ American, ☼ USA, genre:thriller/suspense, genre:horror, ₰ murder, crime, serial killer, genre:mystery, series, ₪ Hannibal, library borrow, read:2012

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Red Dragon by Thomas Harris (1981)

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English (60)  Spanish (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)

Meet Will Graham, the man known as the one who finally nabbed the infamous Hannibal Lecter, coined Hannibal the Cannibal by the press and public. Almost killed in that line of glory, he has taken to retirement - a peaceful existence with woman, child, and beachfront. Crawford comes in to stir up the happy home, convincing Will to come into the dark shadows one more time so that he can nab a new killer.

After overdosing on the show Hannibal for two weeks, I was excited to dig into this book, hoping it would tell some of the back story the show dishes out. The opposite is true, as Red Dragon is after the events of Lecter being caught, with the forensics specialist Will using his grey cells to hunt down another dangerous madman. When I saw this, I was hoping for a similar psychological warfare play like in Silence of the Lambs but, alas, Will and Hannibal only meet face-to-face one mere time.

The main character in this book is the serial killer known as The Red Dragon. Will is the second focus, digging into the head of the man who caught Hannibal Lecter and who has agreed to come out of retirement one more time. Very little focus is on Lecter; he's in the background sometimes, with few actual scenes. We are in his head one small glimpse.

The Red Dragon didn't grab me much as that interesting at first, but his morbid history and insanity slowly grew on me, especially when Harris finally dug into his pitiful past and why he started becoming what he became. While at first he seemed like any other serial killer, after the revelation of his childhood, it's shown how shattered his mind really is. Harris added different twists when he introduces a woman into the fray; it was a nifty touch and lifted it from being just another serial killer, madman tale into something a little bit more. The ending was a small surprise.

Will is interesting and I do wish he didn't disappear from the book series. After seeing the show, though, I realize how little was actually done with him in this book, more of a small whisper of what could have been. Potential the character holds is solid. Since the story is focusing mainly on the twisted tale of another killer, it makes sense that he is here mainly as a tool to be utilized in that capture, his own psychological crumbling only a side serving. While I would have been more intrigued if he was made a bigger focus, it obviously wasn't what Harris intended.

Violent and brutal, the book holds enough intensity to stay steadily paced. It's interesting, although not fascinating, for serial killers stories aren't really my thing. I like the bizarre and unusual more - The Red Dragon is completely unusual, but not in a way that typically draws me. Will is slightly layered, but there is more there that only hints at being explored. Lecter is creepy and twisted, recycling a lot of the same already seen in Silence of the Lambs (punishments at the hospital, mentions of him being unable to be tested), so it was interesting like before but nothing new was offered.

Not the best in the series, but intelligent and worth reading.

( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
If you like Harris' brand of terror, you'll probably like this book. I always feel like screaming, "No, you stupid idiot, don't do it!" ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
I'd have to reread Silence of the Lambs to be sure, but this probably remains my favorite of the Lecter novels, in part because I really like the character of Will Graham. I knew the producers of the show Hannibal were primarily inspired by this novel in particular, but I hadn't realized how much they took — the pendulum image is mentioned in the first few pages. (Also interesting how much dialogue was borrowed later by other movies — "his pulse rate never rose even as he ate her tongue," etc.)

Delightful pulp. ( )
  scarequotes | Jan 23, 2016 |
Well, now I know where Saul Black got his inspiration for The Killing Lessons The two novels are damn near word for word in places (that word being Love with a capital L, unfortunately). Thomas Harris' original story is a sharper, darker, more effective thriller than Black's carbon copy, however. The killer is still introduced early on, sharing the narrative with Will Graham, the FBI profiler who identified Hannibal Lecter, and the 'retired' detective is still mentally (and physically) scarred, but overall, I didn't feel like I was reading a pastiche of the sub-sub-genre with this one. Willi Graham is hard to connect with, perhaps intentionally, and the killer is a product of a truly screwed up childhood - another bad grandma - yet I wasn't thrown out of the story by the cliches. And Hannibal Lecter is equal parts sarcasm and sinister intimidation - can't wait to read the classic Silence of the Lambs next. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Nov 14, 2015 |
Imho, the first half of the book was boring as hell. But as I progressed through the book, it got more and more interesting and I started to feel for the characters. (In a way, the villain reminds me of the killer in the [b:The Alienist|40024|The Alienist (Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, #1)|Caleb Carr|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1388256626s/40024.jpg|2266643].) Overall, it didn't grab me as much as I expected it to but I have high hopes for the second book giving the huge commotion about it.

On the side note, there were a lot of grammar mistakes in this edition published by Arrow books!!! ( )
  novewong | Jul 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
But I have to acknowledge my gut response to Mr. Harris's thriller. It hits us in our outrage, and titillates the part of us all that would like to get rid of evil with a gun.
 

» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Harrisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amante, MarcoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
López de Bullrich, ElisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valassaari, Risto S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are already in the mind. - Alphonse Bertillon
. . . For Mercy has a human heart, Pity a human face, And Love, the human form divine, And Peace, the human dress. - William Blake, Songs of Innocence (The Divine Image)
Cruelty has a Human Heart, and Jealousy a Human Face, Terror the Human Form Divine, and Secrecy the Human Dress.
The Human Dress is forged Iron,
The Human Form is fiery Forge.
The Human Face a Furnace seal'd,
The Human Heart its hungry Gorge.
-William Blake, Songs of Experience
(A Divine Image)
Dedication
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I want to tell you the circumstances in which I first encountered Hannibal Lecter, M.D.
Quotations
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Men kan alleen zien wat men waarneemt, en men neemt alleen die dingen waar die al in de geest aanwezig zijn. (Alphonse Bertillon)
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Sexual hunger; demonic violence; sinister logic - the lethal components of a deadly formula driving a psychopath in the grip of an unimagin-able delusion; a boastful killer who sends the police tormenting notes; a tortured, torturing monster who finds ultimate pleasure in viciously murdering happy families, and calls himself. . . The Red Dragon.

Special agent Will Graham has been assigned to similar cases before, cases where he was able to see and feel WITH the madmen, anticipate their moves and, most terrifying of all, be vulnerable to their horrifying brutality. Now Graham is reluctantly lured out of retirement, to find an opening to the evil mind of the Red Dragon. Red Dragon is quite probably the most suspenseful, utterly compelling thriller ever written.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440206154, Mass Market Paperback)

Lying on a cot in his cell with Alexandre Dumas's Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine open on his chest, Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter makes his debut in this legendary horror novel, which is even better than its sequel, The Silence of the Lambs. As in Silence, the pulse-pounding suspense plot involves a hypersensitive FBI sleuth who consults psycho psychiatrist Lecter for clues to catching a killer on the loose.

The sleuth, Will Graham, actually quit the FBI after nearly getting killed by Lecter while nabbing him, but fear isn't what bugs him about crime busting. It's just too creepy to get inside a killer's twisted mind. But he comes back to stop a madman who's been butchering entire families. The FBI needs Graham's insight, and Graham needs Lecter's genius. But Lecter is a clever fiend, and he manipulates both Graham and the killer at large from his cell.

That killer, Francis Dolarhyde, works in a film lab, where he picks his victims by studying their home movies. He's obsessed with William Blake's bizarre painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun, believing there's a red dragon within him, the personification of his demonic drives. Flashbacks to Dolarhyde's terrifying childhood and superb stream-of-consciousness prose get us right there inside his head. When Dolarhyde does weird things, we understand why. We sympathize when the voice of the cruel dead grandma who raised and crazed him urges him to mayhem--she's way scarier than that old bat in Psycho. When he falls in love with a blind girl at the lab, we hope he doesn't give in to Grandma's violent advice.

This book is awesomely detailed, ingeniously plotted, judiciously gory, and fantastically imagined. If you haven't read it, you've never had the creeps. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:36 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

From the bestselling author of Silence of the Lambs comes this reissue of a gripping thriller combining mystery, horror and suspense. A gruesome tale unfolds when a brilliant detective takes on the most terrifying case of his career, a psychopathic murderer who takes pleasure in killing happy families. A psychotic killer is on the loose in this strong thriller for mature readers. Meet Hannibal Lector for the first time. In the realm of psychological suspense, Thomas Harris stands alone. Exploring both the nature of human evil and the nerve-racking anatomy of a forensic investigation, Harris unleashes a frightening vision of the dark side of our well-lighted world. In this extraordinary novel, which preceded The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, Harris introduced the unforgettable character Dr. Hannibal Lecter. And in it, Will Graham, the FBI man who hunted Lecter down, risks his sanity and his life to duel a killer called the Red Dragon.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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