Book Review

Review: Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Red Dragon

Number of pages: 480

Publisher: Berkley

Format: paperback

Rating: older adults (mature subject matter)

Genre: psychological thriller, mystery, crime fiction


Will Graham, now a retired FBI agent, risk his sanity (and almost his life) to capture Dr. Hannibal Lector. The infamous cannibalistic serial killer is held captive in Baltimore’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Now Graham is asked to assist in another case where a madman called the Tooth Fairy has slaughtered two families. But to find him, Graham has to understand him and his pattern. And to understand him, he visits his former nemesis Dr. Lector for answers.

My thoughts:

A thrilling crime fiction that put the famous fictitious character: Dr. Hannibal Lector to life. I was motivated to read the Red Dragon after watching the entire first season of NBC’s Hannibal, with Mads Mikkelson starring Hannibal Lector, and Hughes Dancy as Will Graham. The series is based on Harris’s Red Dragon who’s also written the Silence of the Lambs, another terrifying story brought to life by ­­­­Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 film. My first crime thriller but not the last. After reading Red Dragon, I’m excited to read the Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal Rising.

A definite hard-to-put-down-novel as it took a few days to complete the book. It’s 54 chapters long and yet in the first two days of reading I was already halfway. A terrifying and thrilling novel that grips you in the very beginning that you don’t want to put it down or leave and do anything until you see how it all ends. You want to detest the killer, and yet there’s something about him that makes you want to analyze and understand him more underneath that tough exterior. That’s the job of Graham, to understand the psyche of the criminal: how he thinks, how he sees, everything. Doing so helps him see his killing pattern and predict the killer’s next move. It’s a gift but also a curse that caused him to retire from his FBI duties. But there are some things that he can’t comprehend about the Tooth Fairy, so he pays a visit to Dr. Lector as only he can make sense of the killer’s mind.

While reading the Red Dragon I could feel my hairs sticking out on end, my pulse pounding as Harris draws us into his story. But most importantly, into the story of the Tooth Fairy were we learn about his tragic childhood, and how he came to inherit a sadist nature. After reading about his devastating past, it’s hard not to sympathize with the Tooth Fairy. I think Harris has done this on purpose so like Graham, we can “see” how he has evolved from a troubled child to a sadist killer he has become. But Will’s story is more tragic as he succumbs to his fear of his imagination. That is not to say that he falls into mental breakdowns but we do see him psychologically loosing himself as he enters the mind of the Tooth Fairy as a way of “figuring him out.” He remains stable throughout the story, as he takes extreme measures to protect his family. In the end, Will Graham comes out as a tragic hero.

An absolute thriller and a terrifying nightmare. If you’re not accustomed to nightmares then I highly recommend that you don’t read this at night, or put it near your bed stand, or read it as a bedtime story. Because this book will guarantee to haunt you.

I give this horrific novel 5 shaky hoots out of 5.


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