(Hannibal Lecter, #1)

Will Graham stands in a silent, empty house communing with a killer. An FBI instructor with a gift for hunting madmen, Graham knows what his murderer looks like, how he thinks, and what he did to his victims after they died. Now Graham must try to catch him. But to do it, he must feel the heat of a killer's brain, draw on the macabre advice of a dangerous mental patient, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and follow a trail of microscopic clues to the place where another family has already been chosen to die--and where an innocent woman has found the Dragon first.

“We live in a primitive time—don’t we, Will?—neither savage nor wise. Half measures are the curse of it. Any rational society would either kill me or give me my books.” 

Meet Will Graham, the man known as the one who finally nabbed the infamous Hannibal Lecter, coined Hannibal the Cannibal by the press and public. Almost killed in that line of glory, he has taken to retirement - a peaceful existence with woman, child, and beachfront. Crawford comes in to stir up the happy home, convincing Will to come into the dark shadows one more time so that he can nab a new killer.

After overdosing on the show Hannibal for two weeks, I was excited to dig into this book, hoping it would tell some of the back story the show dishes out. The opposite is true, as Red Dragon is after the events of Lecter being caught, with the forensics specialist Will using his grey cells to hunt down another dangerous madman. When I saw this, I was hoping for a similar psychological warfare play like in Silence of the Lambs but, alas, Will and Hannibal only meet face-to-face one mere time.

The main character in this book is the serial killer known as The Red Dragon. Will is the second focus, digging into the head of the man who caught Hannibal Lecter and who has agreed to come out of retirement one more time. Very little focus is on Lecter; he's in the background sometimes, with few actual scenes. We are in his head one small glimpse.

The Red Dragon didn't grab me much as that interesting at first, but his morbid history and insanity slowly grew on me, especially when Harris finally dug into his pitiful past and why he started becoming what he became. While at first he seemed like any other serial killer, after the revelation of his childhood, it's shown how shattered his mind really is. Harris added different twists when he introduces a woman into the fray; it was a nifty touch and lifted it from being just another serial killer, madman tale into something a little bit more. The ending was a small surprise.

“I am the dragon, and you call me insane.” 

Will is interesting and I do wish he didn't disappear from the book series. After seeing the show, though, I realize how little was actually done with him in this book, more of a small whisper of what could have been. Potential the character holds is solid. Since the story is focusing mainly on the twisted tale of another killer, it makes sense that he is here mainly as a tool to be utilized in that capture, his own psychological crumbling only a side serving. While I would have been more intrigued if he was made a bigger focus, it obviously wasn't what Harris intended.

Violent and brutal, the book holds enough intensity to stay steadily paced. It's interesting, although not fascinating, for serial killers stories aren't really my thing. I like the bizarre and unusual more - The Red Dragon is completely unusual, but not in a way that typically draws me. Will is slightly layered, but there is more there that only hints at being explored. Lecter is creepy and twisted, recycling a lot of the same already seen in Silence of the Lambs (punishments at the hospital, mentions of him being unable to be tested), so it was interesting like before but nothing new was offered.

Not the best in the series, but intelligent and worth reading.

   Book Quotes:

“Fear comes with imagination, it’s a penalty, it’s the price of imagination.” 

 “One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are already in the mind.”

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