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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of all Harris books
I doubt that anyone would argue the fact that this is the best of Harris's books, though RED DRAGON and BLACK SUNDAY are excellent, too. Any would-be author should read any of these as textbook examples displaying how "brevity of description" --as opposed to long drawn-out descriptions of a person or place in a scene--can be so powerful. For instance,...
Published on May 7, 2000

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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the movie!
Usually my policy is that it is better to watch the movie before you read the book - that way you avoid disappointment as the book is almost invariably better than the movie.
However, with "The Silence of the Lambs" I feel I should have read the book before watching the movie. Somehow the excellent depth of the characters that was created in the movie made...
Published on June 27, 2002 by Bruce


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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of all Harris books, May 7, 2000
By A Customer
I doubt that anyone would argue the fact that this is the best of Harris's books, though RED DRAGON and BLACK SUNDAY are excellent, too. Any would-be author should read any of these as textbook examples displaying how "brevity of description" --as opposed to long drawn-out descriptions of a person or place in a scene--can be so powerful. For instance, Clarice Starling is simply described in her own thougths as someone who "knew she could look allright without primping" and that left you with the image of a great-looking female protagonist. Harris, and lesser known but equally as talented fellow Mississippi author Charles Wilson are two of the best I've ever read at being able to pull this "brevity" off. In fact, the above mentioned books of Harris, along with Wilson's GAME PLAN, DONOR, and NIGHTWATCHER, are among the most visual books I've ever read, without boring you with "too-much" description to get that effect. By the way, for those who loved SILENCE in particular, and haven't read Wilson, they should try NIGHTWATCHER for a read very similar to SILENCE in its story line and fear factor, with possibly better laid-out character development in NIGHTWATCHER--but hey, all of them top notch reads.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping, March 4, 2004
By 
Having seen the movie adaptation of "The Silence of the Lambs" several times, it seemed at times that I could see the action on the pages of the book rather than just reading them. I cannot help but see Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling and it is the voice of Anthony Hopkins I hear when Hannibal Lecter speaks. While this may limit how I view the characters, this does not detract at all from the book and I feel that in many ways, the novel is superior and is still gripping despite my familiarity with the story.
Clarice Starling is in training at the FBI Academy. She is a star student in the Behavioral Sciences Division when the Department Chief, Jack Crawford, calls her into his office and gives her a job. She is to interview one Dr Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter in order to help get into the mind of a serial killer. There is an open case with a serial killer who has been nicknamed "Buffalo Bill", and Dr. Lecter may be the only chance to solve the case without there being many more murders. Starling is only a trainee, and this may be why Lecter is actually willing to speak to Starling about Buffalo Bill, though he is always holding something back.
Lecter is a villain of extreme intellect and this comes through in his dialogue. Like "Red Dragon", Dr. Lecter is not the central villain and the story does not revolve specifically around him (though he has a larger role this time around). Lecter does play a pivotal role because without him, the story cannot move forward. We never truly get into the psyche of Jame Gumb (not as much as we did with Frances Dolorhyde in "Red Dragon"), and it seems as if most of his actions happen off camera.
While Lecter is a very interesting character, it is Clarice Starling that we get to see grow as a character and become more confident and insistent in her work with Lecter and to catch "Buffalo Bill" even though she is only a trainee. She was put on this case and she intends to see it through.
As creepy as the movie could be, I loved this book. It had a very fast pace and stayed interesting throughout the story and it didn't matter that I had seen the movie multiple times. I was interested in the story Thomas Harris was telling. While Harris goes into detail about crimes, it doesn't feel very gory or unnecessary. It seems that this novel was a best seller in the late 80's and it is easy to see why. "The Silence of the Lambs" is a well told thriller and any fans of James Patterson and that genre should definitely give this one a look.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You've Seen the Film, Now Read Mr. Harris' Book, May 3, 2001
This review is from: Silence of the Lambs (Hardcover)
Thomas Harris' book The Silence of the Lambs has been reissued with a subtler, more artistic design, displaying a moth but no screaming death's head, and in a larger size that hints at the literary heft to be found between its covers. The publishers at St. Martin's Press know what they're doing, and if they want to argue for Harris a larger place in the modern canon, I will agree: we're being asked to pay attention to Harris with more than airport-reading consideration and we will be rewarded. The Silence of the Lambs stars Clarice Starling, a student at the FBI training academy, who becomes enmeshed in a disturbing serial murder case.
As the only woman in a male dominated behavioral science department, Clarice brings fresh insights to the search for mad killer Buffalo Bill. Strangely, the other person with insight into the case is locked away in a high security prison vault, sealed from the light of day-Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a madman in his own right. The two, bright-eyed, young, but worldly Clarice and human-organ-eating Lecter, make for an interesting team. But each has power in his or her way and each wants something precious from the other.
Lecter wants freedom and, to some extent, Clarice's company, while Clarice needs to close in on Buffalo Bill before he maims another woman. Along the way, she may also silence some of her self-doubt and lingering need for closure with aspects of her past. Buffalo Bill is on the lose trapping, holding captive, killing, and skinning overweight twenty-something women. The fact that he believes himself to be a transvestite and is making himself a dress out of woman skin has uncertain thematic implications, but there it is. The imprisoned Lecter, who originally seems to have uncanny and brilliant insight into the mind of this lunatic, draws Clarice closer to him by lending her clues in miserly fashion. With their dangerous tango in play, Clarice shifts back into the world of the FBI and on more than one occasion is forced to deal with a sexist environment to simply do her job.
Harris takes care to show us how the mind of this young trainee works systematically and deductively, qualities her male superiors can immediately appreciate, but also how she draws from her own unique experience as a woman and someone raised lower class. Driving her throughout the text is a deep sense of connection with the victims, a heightened empathy we fail to see demonstrated by the other investigators, and more importantly, with the living Catherine Martin. Buffalo Bill's latest detainee, Catherine is the daughter of a senator, and the question will be whether she and Clarice Starling can not only actively resist, but overcome the forces that move to stifle them.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So disturbing and suspensful you can't put it down, January 26, 2006
By 
Benjamin T. Dewolfe (Charlotte, NC United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I saw this movie well over a decade ago, and remebered the gist, but had forgotten much of the story. I recommend to anyone that saw the movie a while ago (and don't mind some graphic descriptions)to read this book. It is enthralling. When a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill begins to kidnap, kill, and skin young women, FBI trainee, Clarice Starling, begins to interview the criminal mind of Hanibal Lecter, a deranged psychiatrist. Lecter offers clues to Starling about the Buffalo Bill case, and Starling becomes heavily involved despite being just a trainee. However, Lecter doesn't share clues for free and she must reveal her past to Lecter in exchange for the information. The investigation becomes a race against time when another young woman is kidnapped. Will Lecter reveal enough clues for Starling to nab Buffalo Bill? You need to read this eerie, sometimes disturbing, and suspensful novel to find out.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read, May 15, 2003
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Silence of the Lambs (Hardcover)
I may be 12, but I still can enjoy a good and sophisticated book. I have never seen the "Silence of the Lambs" movie, but I read the book. You see, I was checking out my grandma's book collection, and I happened to catch a glimpse of one book sitting on the shelf. I picked it up, dusted it off, and discovered it was "The Silence of the Lambs." I had heard the movie was really good, but I'd never heard anybody talk about a book. In fact, I didn't even know there was a book. I thought it might be an adaption of the movie, but the (really cool) cover said "The #1 New York Times Bestseller Is Now The Movie Event Of The Year." It was a pretty old book. My grandma let me borrow it, and I started reading it. It started a little slow, but quickly got pretty exciting. I think that it is best for me to review this book without seeing the movie, because I wn't make comparisions and stuff. Later, I'll write one after I've seen the movie.
Clarice Starling is an FBI trainee with a wierd past. She gets a call from Jack Crawford one day, and meets up with him. He tells her a killer only known as "Buffalo Bill" is on the loose and killing young women. He thinks that Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lector might know somehing. Hannibal is locked away in a very high security mental institution, where he amuses himself by reminiscing (sp?) about the past, drawing things and writing letters or words of wisdom. Hannibal is a genius, but an evil one. After eating a bit of a nurse, he's been locked away for a long time. Clarice meets with him, and discovers he is a true gentlemen. He is polite, uses appropriate grammar, but happens to have a fondness for eating meat that's not quite the kind we get at the store. He agrees to help her, if she'll exchange information about her past. With every complicated hint, she gets closer to finding out who Buffalo Bill really is and where he is. The clock is ticking, he has just kidnapped the senator's daughter, and it's up to her to solve the mystery!
This was a good book. I didn't think it was great, but I enjoyed it and finished it quickly. I'm aware that there are other Lector books (and movies) which include "Red Dragon" and "Hannibal." I haven't read these. I don't think it's important, because I understood the plot fine. I thought the creepy thing about this movie was that it was realistic and could actually happen. There are tons of sickos in this world like Buffalo Bill, and some evil geniuses like Hannibal Lector. My favorite part of this story was the final showdown with Buffalo Bill and Clarice Starling. The suspense leading up to it was great.
The way Thomas Harris writes was very strange. It was written almost like something you would read in a police file. It sounded factual and not fictional. I think that added to its sense of realism. I liked the character of Starling, but I found her a little dull. Maybe in the movie she's better.
Anyway, I'm gonna go have a movie marathon of Lector (in this order: "Manhunter," "Red Dragon," "The Silence Of The Lambs," and "Hannibal"). This was a cool book and I think you should read it.
Incidentally, the one my grandma had was old, and had a cover way cooler than the ones now. It showed half of Clarice Starling's face on the left side, tinted blue. On the right side was half of Hannibal Lector's face. The moth symbol was between them, and there are wings covering their lips. If you find this at an old used book store, get it because it is way cooler that the ones out now.
Hope my review helped. I'll write another after I see the movie.
John
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, September 7, 2000
By 
When you read "The Silence of the Lambs" or hear about the book, you probably start immediately to remember some scenes from the movie starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. The movie comes pretty damn close! And it's rare that a movie follows the plot of a novel so closely.
It is difficult to write something about a story that is so well known, basically by its adaptation for the screen, which has been buried under a heap of Academy Awards. Like many others, "The Silence of the Lambs" proves the fact that the book is always better than the movie.
Clarice Starling is an FBI trainee. The FBI's chief of Behavioral Science has called on her to help solve a serial murder case. She must interview Dr. Hannibal ("the Cannibal") Lector, a psychiatrist jailed for killing and eating various patients, to get inside the mind of Buffalo Bill, a serial killer on the loose. Starling becomes close to Lector who helps her discover how to find Buffalo Bill, and how to find closure in her personal life.
"The Silence of the Lambs" is simply a superb, electrifying book. What a writer Thomas Harris is and what a character the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lector is. With Dr. Lector, Harris makes you look at the face of evil, and stare!
This book sets the standard in psychological terror. If you haven't seen the movie yet, read the novel first, then see the characters brought to life brilliantly by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. I thoroughly enjoyed the two principal characters Dr. Hannibal Lector and Clarice Starling. And I look forward to Hannibal. I wish more novels were like this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.7 stars, February 11, 2007
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What can I add to this novel that hasn't already been added? This book was just absolutely chilling and you wish the world would stop so you could read this book in one sitting. Lecter is one cold, intelligent monster and Starling is a brilliant Freshman. This book is a true classic and a definate read for anyone who loves this genre AND anyone who loves great literature!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A page turner and modern day thriller classic, August 30, 2007
By 
Ratmammy "The Ratmammy" (Ratmammy's Town, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris
August 30, 2007

Amazon Rating: 4/5 stars

I had read RED DRAGON about five years ago and I enjoyed it a lot. I also saw the first two movies featuring Hannibal Lecter, and I decided I had to read all the books. So I finally got to THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. I am going to admit that I probably cannot give a good unbiased review because I remember a lot of the movie starring Jodi Foster and Anthony Hopkins, but I don't remember enough of it to say whether the movie deviated at all from the book or not.

With that said, there are two story lines. The main theme is the search for a serial killer referred to by the press as BUFFALO BILL. But there is another theme which caught on with readers and viewers, that of the murderer Doctor Hannibal Lecter, a criminal so insane that his acts will make you nauseous. His cravings for sweet meats is what leads him to his heinous acts; for example, he attacks a nurse while in jail, breaking her jaw and then eating her tongue. But what is so fascinating about the good doctor is his intelligence and his uncanny instincts pertaining to other people, especially towards other murderers.

With Lecter's help, the FBI goes in search of the mysterious Buffalo Bill, who is murdering and flaying overweight women for unknown reasons. There is no obvious pattern, no clue as to who he is. Jack Crawford of the FBI's Behavioral Science section pulls out a student from class, Clarice Starling, to help track down this killer. The latest missing victim is the daughter of a high profile senator, and knowing what has been happening so far with Buffalo bill, Clarice and Jack know that their time is limited to save Catherine Baker Martin. Every step they take is crucial, and must be precise and calculated, in order to get Hannibal the Cannibal's cooperation. Unfortunately, not everyone is cooperating, and because of some errors made, they may lose Catherine to the serial killer, who has an obsession with moths, one of their first clues.

The journey in search of the killer is of course an important aspect of the novel, but what readers will enjoy the most is the relationship that develops between Clarice and Dr Lecter. It's difficult to describe, but it is one of the more fascinating components of the story. While Dr Lecter has an evil streak, something changes when he is in the vicinity of Clarice. And Clarice knows that she has an edge with Dr Lecter for whatever reason, trusting Dr Lecter to a point that they behave as equals. The two play cat and mouse while she gets as much information out of him, while at the same time she gives him information about herself. The game is a race with time, as she has to figure out who Buffalo Bill is before this serial killer decides it's time to skin his latest victim.

While I'm not a regular reader of suspense and thrillers, I seem to enjoy them a lot when I do read them. So far I am enjoying the series of books by Thomas Harris, and while Dr Lecter was not the main focus in RED DRAGON, I found it interesting how Harris decided to turn the doctor into a full-blown main character in the rest of the series. My overall assessment of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was that it was one of those books that I thoroughly enjoyed and savored every page, just as Lecter savored his fava beans and Amarone! Fans of horror and thrillers should enjoy this modern day classic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Rates an All-Nighter After All These Years, August 19, 2007
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Thomas Harris's "The Silence of the Lambs," a bone-chilling thriller, was an immediate hit upon its 1988 publication. Now, nearly twenty years later, most of us inevitably approach, or reapproach, it knowing something about it; with the famous movie based on it firmly in mind. Yet, I, at least, had to fight off the temptation to stay up all night to finish it, although I surely knew where it was going.

Harris, to be sure, writes a great, tense story of suspense. He'd already published "Black Sunday," and "The Red Dragon--" where we were first introduced to Dr. Hannibal Lector. "Lamb's" plot concerns the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigations to catch a serial killer nicknamed Buffalo Bill. The agency sends trainee Clarice Starling to interview Dr. Hannibal Lector, former psychiatrist, imprisoned in a Baltimore insane asuylum, after having been found guilty of nine sadistic, cannibalistic murders. Lector has unusual tastes, and intense curiosity about the darker side of the mind. The formerly eminent medical man's understanding of himself, Starling, and the killer forms the core of the book.

"Lambs" benefits from a complex, multi-layered plot. As it proceeds, we realize that Lector knew all along where it had to lead. The author's timing is impeccable: he hits his high notes, then gives us a moment to unwind. We hardly dare breathe during the Lector/Starling Tennessee scenes -- we're waiting with dread for what we know will come; when it does, it's overwhelming. The plot's also titillating, let's be honest about it, sex change operations and all. Furthermore, serial killers were new to us then; the genre is still remarkably popular, judging by the countless rip-offs of it since. Finally, a lot of the story deals with gruesome material, but the forensics are still fresh, and it's always leavened by the author's black humor.

Harris created two of the most memorable characters in modern fiction in Lector and Starling. The author has an acute ear for dialogue: who doesn't believe the Lector/Starling duets? At another point, Harris has Barney, sole knowledgeable orderly in the mental hospital where Lector has been held, say to Starling," Listen, when you get Buffalo Bill -- don't bring him to me just because I got a vacancy, all right?"

The writer's eye and ear serve him well. He describes a character's car as "a black Buick with a De Paul University sticker on the back window. His weight gave the Buick a slight list to the left." He describes Clarice's thoughts: "Sometimes Crawford's (her boss's) tone reminded Starling of the know-it-all caterpillar in Lewis Carroll." Early in the book, he has Starling driving back to FBI headquarters at Quantico, "back to Behavioral Sciences, with its homey brown-checked curtains and its gray files full of hell. She sat there into the evening, after the last secretary had left, cranking through the Lector microfilm. The contrary old viewer glowed like a jack-o'-lantern in the darkened room...." Sorry, but ya just gotta read the book to get this stuff.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Can�t Judge a Book By Its Covers, April 13, 2000
I imagine some people read this book because they were looking for a weekend of thriller escapism and they spotted the mass market paperback on the "impulse buy" shelf at the supermarket.
I imagine other people read this book because, as they sipped their Chai and scanned the shelves of their favorite bookstore, they spotted the trade paperback and thought it might provide a thoughtful story whose engrossing issues would promote earnest contemplation.
The beauty of The Silence of the Lambs is that it rewards both kinds of readers. This book offers plenty of suspense through its well-constructed characters and engaging plot, at the same time providing an unexpected level of depth and subtlety in its exploration of human nature.
This is the book that will either ruin or reinvent the thriller genre because it will entirely transform the expectations of readers.
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The Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal Lector)
The Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal Lector) by Thomas Harris (Paperback - September 15, 1998)
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