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The Silence of the Lambs Paperback – September 15, 1998

4.7 out of 5 stars 602 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Hannibal Lecter Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In this thrillingly effective follow-up to Harris's masterful 1981 suspense novel Red Dragon, the heroine is new, but the villain isn't: Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the evil genius who played a small but crucial role in the earlier novel, returns, to mesmerizing effect. When a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill (he kidnaps, slays and skins young women) begins a crosscountry rampage, FBI trainee Clarice Starling tries to interview Lecter, a psychiatrist whose brilliant insights into the criminally insane are matched only by his bloodlusthe's currently imprisoned for nine murders, and would like nothing more than the chance to kill again. Lecter, a vicious gamesman, will offer clues to the murderer's pattern only in exchange for information about Clarice, analyzing her with horrible accuracy from the barest details. When Bill strikes again, the agent begins to realize that Lecter may know much more, and races against time and two twisted minds. Harris understands the crafting of literary terror as very few writers do; readers who put themselves in his good, coldblooded hands will lose sleep, and demand a sequel. 200,000 first printing; $200,000 ad/promo; BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (September 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312195265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312195267
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (602 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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A Kid's Review on May 15, 2003
Format: 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.
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