Review: Red Dragon

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
◆ Read February/March 2014
◆ English Edition

❝ 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.
This is one of those rare cases where the movie and TV-show adaptions of the book are so much better than the original. Pretty much everyone is familiar with the movie Red Dragon and the complete and utter suspense and horror it portrays. Some might be familiar with the NBC's Hannibal that premiered last year, which gives a brilliant insight into the minds of the main characters.That very same suspense and insight was lacking in Harris' which is a bit of a disappointment.

What I really loved about this book were the characters. Harris has really succeeded in creating extremely realistic characters in the form of Will Graham, Hannibal Lecter and Francis Dolharyde They have the traits of an average human being but with just that extra touch of insanity and sociopathic behavior that just makes you want to crawl into their minds and pick them apart piece by piece. Furthermore, the criminologist in me squealed every time a crime scene was analysed and when they were profiling the murderer: what he looked like, why he did what he did etc.

The fact is though that Harris is not an exceptional writer, he is average at best. His attempts at poetic language often fail and there's a lot of inconsistency in the tense he uses.  He kept switching between past and present tense throughout the book for no apparent reason. It confused me to no end an did not do the writing much good.

The only thing I did really like about the writing were the snarky comments such as "Graham had a lot of trouble with taste. Often his thoughts were not tasty". They drew honest laughs from my mouth and functioned as some sort of comic relief.

It was really interesting to read about the process of catching a criminal and I liked the insight into the minds of the characters, but Harris' writing did anything but enhance the quality of the book. Enjoyable, but not brilliant. I will be reading the other books in the series though, if only to see more of Hannibal Lecter!

3 stars because:
✓Realistic and interesting characters
✓Analysis on crime scenes and criminal profiling
✗Average writing


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