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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 Series (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,97777408 (4.07)184
  1. 40
    Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (SastRe.O)
  2. 40
    The Alienist by Caleb Carr (karenlibrarian00)
  3. 30
    The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver (Becchanalia)
  4. 20
    Heartsick by Chelsea Cain (VictoriaPL)
  5. 20
    The Red Scream by Mary Willis Walker (myshelves)
    myshelves: I found this Edgar-winning novel about a serial killer more chilling than Harris's novels.
  6. 21
    Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain (VictoriaPL)
  7. 10
    The Letter of the Law by Tim Green (dara85)
    dara85: The creepy nature of the killer and the sexual tension between he and Casey.
  8. 00
    Black Dahlia Avenger by Steve Hodel (bertilak)
  9. 00
    Every Dead Thing by John Connolly (rayfink)
  10. 22
    The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy (WildMaggie)

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English (70)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Lithuanian (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
good mystery @ serial killer who takes hides from his victims + crazy ___ who helps FBI agent w/ clues

There's a killer on the loose who knows that beauty is only skin deep, and a trainee investigator who's trying to save her own hide. The only man that can help is locked in an asylum. But he's willing to put a brave face on - if it will help him escape.
  christinejoseph | Nov 28, 2015 |
This is my first time rereading Silence since it was originally published back in 1989. I snagged a copy from the library and never got around buying a copy of my own. It became so ubiquitous and was so influential that I somehow never got around to it, even though I know I recommended it to lots of people at the time. Then the film came out and the whole thing went stratospheric. I didn't even see the film when it was on general release: I watched it on ferry back from France. Anyway. I was annoyed at Silence because of the way it turned the police procedural into almost fetishistic forensic investigation for sexycool serial killers Me, I preferred the approach in Peter Straub's Koko, released around the same time, also about a hunt for a serial killer but with nary an autopsy or fibre analysis. Though Koko was successful in its own terms, it was Silence that set its stamp on popular culture, and I was unreasonably annoyed about that.

Weird then to discover how little forensics there is in the book itself. There's one post-mortem examination, the antithesis of every pop-video fast-cut CSI montage. It deals with the body and those who examine it with humanity and respect, and the psychological profiling is fairly basic and dismissed with contempt by good old Doctor Lecter. Even his own insights turn out retrospectively to have been the result of direct knowledge of the killer rather than second-hand analysis.

What we have then, is an amazing game of cat-and-mouse between Starling and Lector. The film has inescapably stamped its imprint all over the book, but that's okay. The book and the film complement each other quite well. So Starling is Foster and Lector is Hopkins and, not insignificantly, Scott Glenn is Jack Crawford. Certainly you couldn't ask for a better cast to voice the characters in your head, and the book has a greater depth that the film can't match.

The book is also incredibly well written, rare enough in massively popular bestsellers. It's a rare author who can handle switching POVs and moving in and out of the present tense so smoothly, giving voice to the anger and pain of the victims and the agents and the crazy evil of the killer with equal assurance. Lector's escape at the book's mid-point is one of the most riveting sequences in all of suspense fiction, and the narrative dexterity when he wrong-foots the reader a few chapters later is subtle and sophisticated. Jeffrey Deaver appears to have made a career out of replicating endless variations of that sequence and that trick, so you can appreciate Harris' restraint all the more.

I suppose it's understandable that Harris turned the sequel, Hannibal into a sort of gorgeous, camp gothic romance rather than try to replicate Silence. Whatever you might think of that, this itself remains a masterpiece of the thriller genre, and though you might expect endless imitators to have diluted its effectiveness, the fact is none of them really got to the heart of what makes it work. Read it, watch the film and enjoy it all over again. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
I would give this 4 and a half I think. I got just a little bored in a few parts when it leaned toward being a cop story (FBI agent, whatever). I was much more interested in the parts with the interviews with Lector. I love villains! I think Psychological Thriller might be my favorite genre. Very similar to the movie, though it's been a long time since I've seen it. ( )
  KR_Patterson | Apr 28, 2015 |
awful...salacious...sick...couldn't finish it...movie much better...
  clarkland | Dec 17, 2014 |
Even better than the movie! I loved the movie--LOVED the book! It went so quickly. I felt there was a little more depth to it--more character development--than the movie, which is understandable. I really enjoyed it. Not sure if I'll be able to stomach Red Dragon or Hannibal, though.... I always felt, based on the movies, that this one was far more psychological, and the other two really focused on the gore-factor..... ( )
  trayceetee | Nov 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harris, Thomasprimary 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.
First words
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
WorldCat has ISBN 9024542871 for both Lelijk eendje [The Ugly Duckling] by Iris Johansen AND De schreeuw van het lam [The Silence of the Lambs] by Thomas Harris.
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Book description
A young FBI trainee. An evil genius locked away for unspeakable crimes. A plunge into the darkest chambers of a psychopath's mind-- in the deadly search for a serial killer...
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:35 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

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.

» see all 11 descriptions

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