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The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

The Silence of the Lambs (1988)

by Thomas Harris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Hannibal Lecter (2)

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English (66)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Lithuanian (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
Even though I still have not seen the film, I thought I'd explore Harris' world when I discovered a paperback very cheap at a local book swap. Though the book is marketed as all about Hannibal Lecter "the ultimate villain," it's really about the minds of criminals and the people who wish to stop them.

It's interesting that each side is set in pairs -- the criminal side and the justice side of the equation.

At one end of the spectrum we have Clarice Starling, an FBI agent who is learning the ropes. I mean, she hasn't even finished school yet! She runs into prejudice all the time -- "how long have you been at the FBI Ms. Starling?" to which she quickly changes the subject. Her mentor and confidant Jack Crawford is in his own world. Struggling with his wife's terminal illness, he yet makes an effort to teach Starling the ropes -- and an ulterior motive to use her to get into Lecter's mind -- the only man who may have the clue to find Buffalo Bill -- the mad serial killer who is skinning women and leaving them floating in rivers.

The other end of the spectrum is Dr. Lecter, an expert of the mind and behavior, but also rather insane -- he literally will bite the hands that feeds him! His sense of smell is startling. His ability to see deep into Starling's core is also a bit unsettling -- for Starling as well as the reader! Lecter's pair is Buffalo Bill himself whom we meet as he prepares to skin a senator's daughter!

Will Clarice find the killer in time, despite the arrogance of bureaucrats and the curtains everyone of the characters seems to hide behind? And is she willing to give up a bit of herself to Lecter in return for some information?

**Spoiler - Fascinating pace of story, especially at the climax when she actually meets the killer and has no idea who this guy is -- but then does and man, you can't turn the page fast enough! ** End Spoiler

I am mighty impressed with Thomas Harris bit of crime fiction here. I may pick up his earlier work, Red Dragon [Red Dragon.

Recommended! ( )
  jmourgos | Sep 12, 2014 |
Brilliant. For once the book is so brilliant the movie wasn't able to ruin it! ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
I read this book because I loved the movie. And what I found was that the movie was very true to the book. Silence of the Lambs and it's prequel Red Dragon are amazing books. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
I read this book because I loved the movie. And what I found was that the movie was very true to the book. Silence of the Lambs and it's prequel Red Dragon are amazing books. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
better book in some ways, i guess, but between the two i preferred Red Dragon. this one was more... literary, but the literary parts felt forced. and self-conscious, maybe. and Clarice Starling, while smart and plucky and well-fleshed out, wasn't to me as interesting a character as Will, although my opinion wasn't shared by either Crawford or Lecter; she just felt like a character created for a particular purpose in a book, you know?

and while Clarice and Hannibal played their game of cat and mouse, she was never aimed at him nor he at her, so there wasn't to me the power of the psychological struggle at the edge of the action between Crawford and Will. Lecter wants her soul, of course, he's laying his groundwork there; but he's just amusing himself with her throughout this book: she's a means to a different end, in his trajectory, so he's not focussed on her in herself, though i imagine that day will come. but the psychological battleground in Red Dragon was central to that book; in this one, though oddly it was so much more about the psychology of serial killers, it didn't seem as urgent, or as malevolent.

lots of fine detail on methodology, of course. maybe that's my objection, that this one seems more conventionally procedural. well, leave that. Will gets only one mention, noted as drunk, and owner of half a face. thanks a lot, guys. Crawford's characterization as caring boss in this one is a bit abrupt; okay, i get that his wife's dying and he needs an outlet, plus Clarice is a young protege, a legacy agent for him. but it doesn't read like new light on Crawford closeup, it reads like a different guy. so why not make him a different guy? maybe Hannibal will answer that. not that Crawford is uninteresting, in either incarnation, but this is the more conventional iteration, and it seemed to me the two characterizations in the two books did not cohere.

Hannibal's analysis of Mr Hide (now there was a macabre nickname) was fascinating. more so than Mr Hide himself, who seemed kind of a dull bulb, though he had more than the usual allotment of hobbies... but then said brilliant analysis soon became much less so when it became clear that Hannibal knew the whole story already in minute detail, having heard it all before. true to his character, sure, to have his fun and enjoy looking omniscient at the same time. but it undermined that whole 'most brilliant mind ever thing' the book was selling: like the Wizard of Oz, there was nothing to him behind the curtain.

i liked that the asylum head got his comeuppance. i couldn't get a grip on Hannibal making the guy in the next cell swallow his own tongue, and pondered this at length: i mean is it even possible to achieve that physically by volition? i liked his escape plan though. and the way they all tried to discredit and destroy Starling's career along the way seemed to me just about right. and it was quite interesting to see what Lecter extracts from the trade with Clarice in every transaction. a long-term investment, that: cue shark music.

also ringing true was the difficulty she had, in spite of all she knew, in coming to terms with the reality that someone so genuinely interested in her could actually have no interest in her continued welfare. but i think she nailed it at the end when she tells Crawford she'll only be in danger from Lecter the first time she bores him. her dogged nature on the trail was also attractive, and it must be the quality that most appeals to Hannibal as well. she's undeflectable in the field. still, i persist in thinking she might quite easily bore him in the future, especially when he's no longer a captive audience.

okay, what else? i like the roommate a lot. i loved the two insect boys. also Hannibal's keeper. i was pretty fond of the last victim Catherine too. i agreed with Clarice that hey, all these female victims on one side vs the very male culture of the various investigators on their cases. nobody who could know them, and then use that to stop the next. and of course as a thriller it was way beyond Red Dragon in the suspense department; i was on the edge of my seat, pretty much from start to finish. but then it was almost a different genre. with Clarice as hero. made to order. okay, okay, i did think ha! take that, guys! on her behalf when the Big Important Takedown Team that didn't need her went armed and dangerous to the wrong city, and there was Clarice the student all alone but knocking at Mr Hide's door.

also liked that Clarice felt safe enough to sleep in the laundry room, but only her roommate understood why. that was well-done. ( )
  macha | May 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Harrisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rambelli, RobertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? --1 Corinthians
Need I look upon a death's head in a ring, that have one in my face? -- John Donne, "Devotions"
To the memory of my father.
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Behavioral Science, the FBI section that deals with serial murder, is on the bottom floor of the Academy building at Quantico, half-buried in the earth.
A census taker tried to quantify me once. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a big Amarone.
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Nur einer kann der jungen FBI-Agentin Clarice Starling bei der Jagd auf einen fürchterlichen Serienkiller helfen: Der. Hannibal Lector - selbst Massenmörder - hochintelligent und eiskalt. Doch Lector beginnt, ein grausames Spiel mit Clarice zu spielen ...
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312924585, Mass Market Paperback)

The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris, is even better than the successful movie. Like his earlier Red Dragon, the book takes us inside the world of professional criminal investigation. All the elements of a well-executed thriller are working here--driving suspense, compelling characters, inside information, publicity-hungry bureaucrats thwarting the search, and the clock ticking relentlessly down toward the death of another young woman. What enriches this well-told tale is the opportunity to live inside the minds of both the crime fighters and the criminals as each struggles in a prison of pain and seeks, sometimes violently, relief.

Clarice Starling, a precociously self-disciplined FBI trainee, is dispatched by her boss, Section Chief Jack Crawford, the FBI's most successful tracker of serial killers, to see whether she can learn anything useful from Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Lecter's a gifted psychopath whose nickname is "The Cannibal" because he likes to eat parts of his victims. Isolated by his crimes from all physical contact with the human race, he plays an enigmatic game of "Clue" with Starling, providing her with snippets of data that, if she is smart enough, will lead her to the criminal. Undaunted, she goes where the data takes her. As the tension mounts and the bureaucracy thwarts Starling at every turn, Crawford tells her, "Keep the information and freeze the feelings." Insulted, betrayed, and humiliated, Starling struggles to focus. If she can understand Lecter's final, ambiguous scrawl, she can find the killer. But can she figure it out in time? --Barbara Schlieper

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:51 -0400)

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FBI Academy trainee Clarice Starling hopes that Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a criminally insane psychiatrist imprisoned in a Boston hospital, can lead her to the serial killer known only as Buffalo Bill.

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