Title: The Silence of the Lambs
Author: Thomas Harris
Page Count/Review Word Count: 421
The Silence of the Lambs is Thomas Harris’ third novel and the second to feature the iconic Hannibal Lecter, and I’d wager that it’s the first title that most people would remember when asked to name a Hannibal Lecter novel or movie. It deserves it, too – it’s one of Harris’ finest novels, terrifying and gripping to boot.
As usual, I won’t go in to too much detail when it comes to the plot, because I want to avoid spoilers where possible – that said, certain scenes still stick out after all of these years, and so keep your eyes peeled (and protected from Lecter) for Lecter using the faces of his enemies as human masks, and for the moment in which a convict flicks semen at FBI agent Clarice Starling, the protagonist of the novel.
It’s the relationship between Lecter and Clarice that most readers and viewers remember, the sort of mutual respect that they hold for each other despite their drastically differing world views – Clarice needs Lecter for the information that he holds, and Lecter knows that and uses it to his own ends. It really is a subtle relationship that the two enjoy, but it is most definitely there, and this is the novel where it really comes in to fruition. Arguably, it’s also the novel that shows Lecter at his most human side.
I read the novels before I watched the movies, but it’s a safe bet that if you enjoyed one then you’ll enjoy the other – as for myself, I thought the books were better because they went in to more detail. I’ve mentioned Harris’ attention to detail before, as well as his creativity – he’s one of the few living novelists who scares me in real life. I just don’t understand how he could create such a convincing psychopath unless there’s something psychologically wrong with him, too.
As for an overall opinion, I think you should read it if you haven’t already – it’s a great novel, a page-turning entertainer, and it’s a great example of its genre, although I find it quite hard to classify exactly what that genre is. It’s also the book that made millions all over the world fear the name of Hannibal Lecter, and they fear it for a reason – the guy is crazy, as you’re about to find it. Not the kind of book to read before bed.