Title: Red Dragon
Author: Thomas Harris
Page Count/Review Word Count: 421
Red Dragon is a competent enough novel, but that about sums it up – Thomas Harris was a fine writer back in 1981, but he wasn’t as fine as he is today, and it shows. That said, the novel shows a lot of promise and it’s a decent enough read, professional at any rate – there’s just something about it that failed to excite me, a kind of realisation that the characters are difficult to relate to and the unsuspension of my disbelief.
However, it comes from an interesting background, and you could never accuse Harris of failing to do his research – ahead of writing the book, he learned about serial killers and the role of the F.B.I. from the organisation’s own Behavioral Science Unit. In fact, I’ve said in other reviews that Harris is the only author who’s ever scared me – he knows so much about the way that psychopaths work, that it’s hard to comprehend. Sometimes you start to wonder whether it takes a psychopath to know one.
Let’s face it, there’s got to be something that Harris doesn’t want us to know – after all, he hasn’t given anybody an interview for nearly forty years, and that seems unlikely to change now. And that leaves me feeling like there’s just something about him that compels me to read his work, and I think the feeling is shared by many others.
As usual, I don’t want to go too deeply in to the story-line, because I don’t want to spoil it if you go on to read it yourself – I will say, though, that I think this is the weakest of Harris’ Hannibal Lecter novels and that if you’re anything like me, you’ll only get round to reading this because you’ve read all of the other novels and you feel like you ought to see where it all started, although if you really want to see that then you should check out Hannibal Rising.
In fact, Lecter isn’t really the primary antagonist here – that honour falls to a disturbed serial killer called “The Tooth Fairy”, and while he is a sinister force throughout the novel, he just doesn’t spread the fear through your veins in the same way that Lecter does, and while he is a well-educated villain, I doubt he could outsmart Lecter. The F.B.I. actually seeks the cannibal’s help to track him down, leading to a battle of wits between the baddies.