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Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter Series) Paperback – January 6, 2009
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Feed your fears with the terrifying classic that introduced cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter.
FBI agent Will Graham once risked his sanity to capture Hannibal Lecter, an ingenious killer like no other. Now, he’s following the bloodstained pattern of the Tooth Fairy, a madman who’s already wiped out two families.
To find him, Graham has to understand him. To understand him, Graham has only one place left to go: the mind of Dr. Lecter.
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“Red Dragon is an engine designed for one purpose—to make the pulse pound, the heart palpitate, the fear glands secrete.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A gruesome, graphic, gripping thriller...Extraordinarily harrowing.”—The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Want to faint with fright? Want to have your hair stand on end? Want to read an unforgettable thriller with equal parts of horror and suspense? Harris was obviously only warming up with his best seller Black Sunday.”—New York Daily News
“Irresistible...A shattering thriller...Readers should buckle themselves in for a long night’s read because from the first pages...Harris grabs hold.”—Publishers Weekly
“The scariest book of the season.”—The Washington Post Book World
“Easily the crime novel of the year.”—Newsday
About the Author
A native of Mississippi, Thomas Harris began his writing career covering crime in the United States and Mexico and was a reporter and editor for the Associated Press in New York City. He is the author of Black Sunday, Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising, and Cari Mora. Five of his books have been made into films, including most notably the multiple Oscar winner, The Silence of The Lambs.
- Publisher : Berkley; Reprint edition (January 6, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0425228223
- ISBN-13 : 978-0425228227
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.18 x 1.02 x 7.48 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #35,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #390 in Contemporary Literature & Fiction
- #1,822 in Psychological Thrillers (Books)
- #4,761 in Suspense Thrillers
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2023
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So just finished this. First off, Harris is bloody amazing. This book is not about our favorite cannibal at all, he’s a plot point used sparingly, like 3-5 direct involvement points, mentioned in passing in the barest hint. There’s actually more references to Lounds then Lecter, and Lounds plays a much more direct part in the story line than Lecter does.
I felt more sympathy for the killer than the reporter, and that can be summed up by several things. I hate people that pry into other’s lives, snooping through as if it’s their god given right, and Freddie is a buttstain of a paparazzi on a good day. The killer, the Red Dragon is a merciless ‘other’ that walks around in his ‘human suit’ but is easily more likable than the tabloid journalist through the scenes Harris paints. I won’t give them away, but I very much approve of the way he humanized -redacted- by giving it almost a romcom spot in the book. Yes, you read that right, romantic comedy scene.
While it has gruesome scenes I would say they aren’t nearly as bad as the self flogging in DaVinci code, except maybe a scene at the end that literally could be hit or miss depending on your imagination. Based in the 70’s it’s got that pre tech charm that anyone born before the 2000’s almost regrets leaving.
I almost gave it 4 stars because I was expecting more of the charismatic Lecter. It felt vaguely like false advertising, that being said I was giggling like a maniac, and would recommend this in a heartbeat besides that detail. The characters are engaging, Freddie is a damn cockroach, and the Dragon.... that poor bastard. You will feel some sympathy for the villain in the Red Dragon, but it will not make you question your morale. He’s killing people, he deserves to be caught, and the methods he employs are brutal. That being said special agent Crawford and not FBI Graham are equally compelling to read through.
This book is told through third person and has multiple points of view. It’s brilliantly weaved and as abrasive and crass as the Will Graham that’s portrayed in the tv series with Hugh Dancy.
5 stars over all, but this book is not about Hannibal Lecter, it’s about the men who caught him going after someone else.
Having watched the first season and a half of the show I would say they took some parts from it line by line. Make no mistake, they are both brilliant. Picturing Crawford here as Fishborne was amazing. I’ll say it now, if you like the show always read the book/source material.
I'm a big fan of the character-driven novel, and "Red Dragon" had three of the best, most well-written characters I've ever read in a crime novel: Francis Dolarhyde, Reba McClane, and Freddy Lounds. Too bad the main character--Will Graham, a disturbed semi-retired FBI agent--was too boring to keep my attention for the first half of the novel.
If you're looking for a Hannibal Lecter book, this isn't it. In fact, he is only a bit character who corresponds with the real villain of the novel, Francis Dolarhyde, aka The Tooth Fairy, aka The Red Dragon. Lecter and Graham had a run-in three years prior to when the novel takes place that left Graham nearly killed and Lecter is high-security prison (think much more The Silence of the Lambs and much less NBC's "Hannibal," the latter which was apparently inspired by this novel with very little similarities). Lecter sends advice to Dolarhyde, who has killed two families through his evil alter-ego The Red Dragon.
I separate this book into thirds. The first third is dry and dull, a lot of detailed descriptions of crime scenes and DNA samples and fingerprints, stuff that ceases to interest those who have read hundreds of crime novels or watched hundreds of episodes of CSI. We get to know Will Graham and his long-suffering young wife who seems way too patient for him. The second third is when things get interesting- we get a full overview of Dolarhyde's absolutely painful, miserable life and childhood and we actually start to sympathize with him, a feat that has to be done carefully in crime novels. He was abused physically, emotionally, and somewhat sexually by his grandmother and taunted endlessly by his peers due to being born with a cleft palate and a speech impediment. I couldn't put the book down during this part.
We also view the demise of the wormy Freddy Lounds who, although an awful man, is a really interesting character. He's gross, rat-faced, and cruel, but he's also ambitious, cunning, and incredibly cutthroat. His death is pretty gruesome and I wish we got more of him before he had to go.
And then we meet Reba McClane. Oh, Reba, how I love you. You're this funny, smart, confident woman who is thrust in this absolute horror story and you fell in love with this insane man and he loved you and we all wanted this happy ending where you fixed this man and you helped each other survive in this messed up world. But "Red Dragon" isn't that kind of book, and even though Reba made it through the flames, I still shed a tear for her.
Don't read this book if you're looking for an experience like the TV show "Hannibal." The characters aren't the same and the tone is completely different. But this book will really surprise you with emotion, and some of the characters are intensely memorable
Top reviews from other countries
I picked up "Red dragon" from the airport.
I don't now remember what the other book I took with me was.
The weather was very hot and it was my first time abroad.
I was sitting in the shade under a beach umbrella when I got to the part in the orphanage where his grandmother asks him his name....
There has never been any other book that I have read that shocked me so much.
I have now come back to it after all these years...and even though it doesn't have the same shock value now obviously as it did then. It still is very disturbing and what makes it so, is its absolutely totally believable.
I first read this book many years ago after seeing the Michael Mann film version (Manhunter). Although Lecter only appears briefly in this one, Harris sets the stage for the sequels, 'The Silence of the Lambs' and 'Hannibal'. He also introduces recurring characters, including Dr Chilton and Jack Crawford, and deftly keeps the tension on the boil as the police and FBI teams struggle to discover the identity of the killer.
This is a cracking good read from a master storyteller, and even if you've seen one or both movie versions, there's plenty here to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Overall, I liked this read, although I didn’t find myself riveted at all and whilst I may re-read this several years down the line, like the movie it’s not a favourite of mine. At times throughout the book the writing felt stodgy and a tad too descriptive, I was expecting something more lyrical and fluid in all honesty. Nevertheless, there were also moments where the writing and descriptions brought things to vivid life and had me reacting in one way or another.
I did wish that the writing had allowed for more tension to manifest, but unlike the movie that didn’t happen. I did find the differences between this book and the 2002 movie Red Dragon interesting, the ending of this book sure isn’t something that Hollywood would love, so I can see why they changed things up a tad.
99p on Amazon 5th May 2019
However, this book was great! Not written in the “Whodunnit” style of trying to guess who the foe is, but rather introducing the both the chaser and the chased early on gave this book a different feel, as you could play both characters motivations off against each other.
Add into the mix the character of Lectar, who in this instalment is used sparingly, and there was some great tension created. Even in the few short chapters that Lectar was the main focus, there was a definite sense of unease!
This book is really well written, a decent page turner, and certainly leaves you wanting more. I will be diving into Silence of the Lambs immediately!
The Will Graham in this isn't the Will Graham I know and love from the tv show (I understand that is a set before these books). This Will is boring and repetitive and his wife is even worse.. it's his job! Stop blaming Crawford for Christ's sake.
I really enjoyed reading from the perspective of Francis Dolarhyde, I especially liked the flashbacks to his childhood. Harris made him seem more human than the monster, or Dragon he is portrayed to be, he was rather intriguing.
For me, the biggest downfall is the lack of descriptive imagery. There were times where I only knew what was happening because I have seen the film a number of times. That's not great and the reason I've given it 3 stars.