This is the novel that made Hannibal Lector into a global superstar. A serial killer who eats his victims. That is just one of the reasons he is still talked about today. Find out why he had such an impact and the novel that made that happen.
Red Dragon Summary
When Will Graham, a former FBI profiler, is asked to come back to help catch a serial killer, his old demons reawaken. And he has a lot. One of them is Hannibal Lector, a serial killer Graham helped put away. After being called back to investigate two similar murders, Graham gives Lector a visit to get some insight on the current serial killer, the Tooth Fairy. But things go wrong in a hurry as Lector’s invisible hands influence the killer.
The Red Dragon, the name the serial killer has chosen, has killed two families already. He is planning to kill another one during the next full moon. Graham and the FBI must solve the mystery before he strikes again. But asking Lector for help has put Graham and his family in danger. With the threat of two serial killers hanging over his head, Graham is under intense pressure to solve the case before anyone else dies.
Why Hannibal Lector Became Famous
Lector is not the first serial killer nor the first person to eat his victims. Those two things however draw our attention. We are disgusted and yet curious because it is hard to imagine anyone actually doing it. With Lector, he was both which increased the shock value. But even more then that, it was how he would do it.
When not killing and eating his victims, Dr. Lector was a normal human being. Well, almost normal. He is way smarter than the average person. And he has a taste for the elegant and expensive. When Lector kills, his mask is shed and we see for who he truly is, a monster. After, he eats his “meal” as if nothing happened.
The nonchalant attitude after killing his victims is also why we are drawn to Lector. We expect chaos, blood everywhere, a dead body on the floor somewhere but that is not what we get. Lector is meticulous and gets rid of the body with ease. And then talks to a detective with a calm demeanor, giving nothing away. That is what is the most terrifying thing about Lector. He is a monster that goes unseen, interacting with everyone with nobody the wiser.
You may be thinking this is another psychological thriller and you would be wrong. Yes, it technically falls under that category but it is not a cheap thrill. Thomas Harris puts a lot of detail in his novel and you can see that when you examine his characters. The fact that Lector has become a mainstream name proves that Harris’ characters are larger than life.
I sped through the novel and was on the edge of my seat the whole time. The writing was fantastic and the novel was perfect. The characters were detailed, a little too much maybe. One page you might hate a character and the next, you can sympathize with them just like that.
Making one character come to life is hard but Harris makes all of his characters human and you don’t see great writing like this often. There is a reason that Hannibal Lector has passed the test of time. Great writing keeps people talking about the novel or characters. Tolkien is proof of that and the Lector novels are following a similar trajectory!