Red Dragon

Red Dragon

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, D...

DownloadRead Online
Title:Red Dragon
Author:Thomas Harris
Rating:
ISBN:0525945563
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:348 pages

Red Dragon Reviews

  • Brad
    Mar 25, 2008

    Is it heresy to say that I liked both film versions better than I liked the book? Probably, but it's true.

    Thomas Harris isn't the finest writer in the world, and I think even he'd acknowledge that, but he is full of great ideas, and

    is absolutely one of his best.

    I think the mark of how great his ideas are is that they almost always make a compelling transfer to the screen, and Red Dragon has made that transition twice: once as Michael Mann's Manhunter and once as the more faithful

    Is it heresy to say that I liked both film versions better than I liked the book? Probably, but it's true.

    Thomas Harris isn't the finest writer in the world, and I think even he'd acknowledge that, but he is full of great ideas, and

    is absolutely one of his best.

    I think the mark of how great his ideas are is that they almost always make a compelling transfer to the screen, and Red Dragon has made that transition twice: once as Michael Mann's Manhunter and once as the more faithful

    . Each film provides a different take on Harris' most famous character, Hannibal Lecter, both films provide a chilling effect on the viewer's emotions, and both films offer up a frightening -- though very different -- Francis Dolarhyde.

    Harris' writing is cinematic in structure and quality, making his books easy to transfer to the screen. Characters, settings and even action can be dropped or rolled into others or completely altered without harming the telling of the tale. Much of this is about the mood Harris creates. There is an underlying suspense and oppression in his books that gives a screen writer or director a sound compass for adaptation, allowing him/her to do justice to a Harris book by maintaining the spirit of the story -- no matter what changes are required by the shift to cinema.

    Still, as a novel

    is merely enjoyable. A rather twisted and macabre diversion, but a diversion nonetheless. It is one of those late night, make you uncomfortable reads, or a dreary, rainy, wish you were at the beach reads.

    There is much to like in

    , but it is essentially high end pulp, which is a good thing. And more than enough to recommend it to anyone who likes something a little twisted, with just a hint of the anti-hero.

  • Kemper
    Jul 02, 2008

    When it comes to Hannibal Lecter, I’m like one of those music hipster douche bags that everyone hates because I’ll snootily declare that I knew about him long before most people did and that he’s sucked ever since he got really famous.

    I’d read this years before the book of

    came out and led to the excellent film adaptation that skyrocketed Hannibal to the top of pop culture villains. Hell, I’m so Hannibal-hip that I’d caught Brian Cox playing him in Michael Mann’s adapta

    When it comes to Hannibal Lecter, I’m like one of those music hipster douche bags that everyone hates because I’ll snootily declare that I knew about him long before most people did and that he’s sucked ever since he got really famous.

    I’d read this years before the book of

    came out and led to the excellent film adaptation that skyrocketed Hannibal to the top of pop culture villains. Hell, I’m so Hannibal-hip that I’d caught Brian Cox playing him in Michael Mann’s adaptation

    , and I didn’t just see it on VHS like all the other late-comers, I actually saw it in the theater. Twice! (I’m pretty sure this is the literary equivalent of claiming to have seen a band in a bar with eleven other people long before their first record deal.)

    So after Thomas Harris and Hollywood ran the character into the ground after the second movie, it’s been years of shaking my head and saying, “Man, nothing’s been the same since Anthony Hopkins gave his Oscar acceptance speech.”

    Since I felt like Harris was just cashing in and had pretty much ruined Hannibal in the process, I hadn’t felt the urge to revisit

    or

    in some time. I was more than skeptical about the NBC prequel TV series

    , but great reviews and the involvement of Bryan Fuller got me to check it out. Not only has it been incredibly good and returned Hannibal Lecter to his creepy best, it’s clever use of events referenced as backstory in

    had me digging out my copy to refresh my memory. Even better, the show has given me a new appreciation for an old favorite and reminded me what I found compelling about it to begin with.

    Will Graham was a profiler for the FBI until he was badly injured while identifying a certain gourmet serial killer whose name conveniently rhymes with ‘cannibal’ which certainly made life easier for the people writing tabloid headlines. Will has retired to a happy new life with a wife and stepson in Florida until his old boss Jack Crawford comes calling and asks for help. There’s a brutal new killer dubbed the Tooth Fairy by the cops due to his habit of biting his victims. He’s killed two families after breaking into their homes and seems to be on schedule to do it again at the next full moon.

    Will is reluctant to come back not just because he’s already been gutted once by a madman. He also fears that trying to think like a mass murderer isn’t the best thing for his mental health. It turns out that his concerns are justified after a tabloid journalist essentially paints a target on his back for the Tooth Fairy. Even worse, Will has to confront the man who nearly killed him and being confined to a cell doesn’t mean that Dr. Lecter can’t still do some serious damage.

    Even as someone who was on the Hannibal bandwagon for a quarter of a century, it’s shocking to re-read this and realize how small of a part he actually plays in the story. Yes, he’s terrifying and his presence hangs over Will like a dark cloud, but he’s still a supporting player. Francis Dolarhyde (a/k/a The Red Dragon a/k/a The Tooth Fairy) may not have Hannibal’s culinary skills, but he’s one damn scary and slightly tragic villain while Will Graham makes for a damaged but compelling hero in the story.

    I think one of the things I love best is just how much time is spent on how Will thinks. As a man with extremely high levels of empathy and a vivid imagination, Will’s ability to put himself in someone else’s shoes is a gift and a curse. Thinking like deranged killers has left him questioning if he might not be one of them, and it spills over all his emotions like a toxic oil spill.

    By understanding their madness, Will can find the logic in their thinking, and it’s following that internal logic that allows Will to find the evidence they need. The breakthrough Will eventually makes is one of my all-time favorite examples of pure detection in the genre. It was in front of the reader the entire time, but it’s such an elegant solution that fits together so perfectly that Harris doesn’t have to engage in obscuring it with red herrings.

    As a thriller that led to countless rip-offs and even the eventual collapse of the franchise due to it’s own success, it’s been often imitated but rarely equaled.

    Check out my review of the Hannibal TV series at

    .

    Cross posted at

    .

  • Edward Lorn
    May 13, 2012

    I read

    over a decade ago, and, while I have no need to reread it (I remember every little cringe-inducing detail), it has popped up on my 17 Books for People Who Hate People Reading Challenge. So here's a review.

    I don't think there's a single bad thing to be said about

    . It's one of the only thrillers that ever truly scared me. The killer and his "becoming" has stayed with me for ten-plus years, and I firmly believe it's the best book in the Hannibal Lecter series.

    I read

    over a decade ago, and, while I have no need to reread it (I remember every little cringe-inducing detail), it has popped up on my 17 Books for People Who Hate People Reading Challenge. So here's a review.

    I don't think there's a single bad thing to be said about

    . It's one of the only thrillers that ever truly scared me. The killer and his "becoming" has stayed with me for ten-plus years, and I firmly believe it's the best book in the Hannibal Lecter series.

    is tame by comparison, and

    left me wanting. It left me wanting

    that I refused to read the final book,

    .

    In summation: One of the best thrillers I've read, and better than future books in the series. High recommended.

  • Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
    Oct 11, 2012

    Once upon a time, there was a little girl who saw

    . I don't know what her parents were thinking letting her watch such a movie, but she never forgot the opening scene, with Clarice running. She did not have the stomach to watch the more gruesome scenes, and I don't blame her. She wasn't even 10 (seriously, she has some effed up parents). But the little girl grew into a deranged teenager who fell in love with Hannibal Lecter. So she read everything she could about him.

    But

    Once upon a time, there was a little girl who saw

    . I don't know what her parents were thinking letting her watch such a movie, but she never forgot the opening scene, with Clarice running. She did not have the stomach to watch the more gruesome scenes, and I don't blame her. She wasn't even 10 (seriously, she has some effed up parents). But the little girl grew into a deranged teenager who fell in love with Hannibal Lecter. So she read everything she could about him.

    But enough of that. I'm fascinated with the criminally insane. Make them a a highly intelligent and charismatic gentleman who only eats the rude and I melt. Don't get me wrong. I fell a little for Francis Dolarhyde, too. I mean there's Francis, a tormented soul with a hot body who falls in love for the first time in his life. And when I say love I'm not talking about

    , but the true feeling, the one that makes him fight his madness a little. I even found myself rooting for him and Reba.

  • Ana
    Oct 29, 2012

    Enjoyed it even more the second time!

    Let me break this down for you really quickly.

    Francis Dolarhyde goes a little cray-cray and thinks he is becoming the Red Dragon. Basically, he is going to take what is his with fire and blood. Err, somethin

    Enjoyed it even more the second time!

    Let me break this down for you really quickly.

    Francis Dolarhyde goes a little cray-cray and thinks he is becoming the Red Dragon. Basically, he is going to take what is his with fire and blood. Err, something like that.

    Will Graham is emo asf.

    Dr Lecter is just trolling everyone at this point.

    What's not to love?

    My only gripe however... is the ending. Ok, this isn't Disney. I get it. I wasn't expecting sunsets and flowers... but geez. Thomas Harris could have ended it on a lighter note. Will Graham deserved better than this.

    ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
    Jan 03, 2013

    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, hopin

    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.

    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.

  • Benjamin Stahl
    Mar 12, 2013

    I think I recall Stephen King - or somebody - once writing that Thomas Harris could tell a great story, but that he was a terrible writer. When I began this book, I could not agree more. Things start off very slowly, and the book's thriller/suspense engine seems to be running flat. The villain (can we really call him a "villain" though?) is the only character that feels at all interesting - and I guess Hannibal is good, but I prefer the Hopkins version in the films. But after a little while, if

    I think I recall Stephen King - or somebody - once writing that Thomas Harris could tell a great story, but that he was a terrible writer. When I began this book, I could not agree more. Things start off very slowly, and the book's thriller/suspense engine seems to be running flat. The villain (can we really call him a "villain" though?) is the only character that feels at all interesting - and I guess Hannibal is good, but I prefer the Hopkins version in the films. But after a little while, if you manage to hold on and wage through the tedious openings and uninteresting back-story, 'Red Dragon' does eventually come together, and although it isn't the best thriller I have read (I think Peter Straub's "Koko" would come under that title)it does certainly pull you into it, enough so that the lackadaisical prose and occasional overflow of pointless descriptions, does become less noticeable, and you find yourself eager to see how everything turns out. Perhaps I should mention, in respect to this book, that I had already seen (and loved) the movie many times, but nevertheless I was quite immersed into the storyline anyway. So that's my rating: not the greatest novel, not particularly memorable, but rather good fun nonetheless...

  • Stephanie
    Apr 06, 2013

    Now that I’ve just finished reading this book, I feel the need to scrub parts of my brain with steel wool for the purpose of removing certain scenes that Thomas Harris has so rudely embedded there. Thanks a bunch Tom!

    Will Graham has the rotten luck at being really good at his job. He is a profiler for the FBI and while he was on the job catching Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Lecter caught him with a big sharp knife. Will decides that was enough for him, so he makes the wise decision to retire.

    But nooo!

    Now that I’ve just finished reading this book, I feel the need to scrub parts of my brain with steel wool for the purpose of removing certain scenes that Thomas Harris has so rudely embedded there. Thanks a bunch Tom!

    Will Graham has the rotten luck at being really good at his job. He is a profiler for the FBI and while he was on the job catching Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Lecter caught him with a big sharp knife. Will decides that was enough for him, so he makes the wise decision to retire.

    But nooo! Jack Crawford, Will’s former boss, shows up at his house asking for help on a new case of a new serial killer dubbed the Tooth Fairy, because the creep likes to bite his victims.

    Here’s how the conversation goes between the two, broken down to its simplest form.

    Jack: Hey I need your help with a case because you’re the best at what you do.

    Will: But I don’t want to on account I was nearly gutted last time I helped you.

    Jack: But you’re really good at your job.

    Will: Okay…..since you put it that way, I’ll help.

    Francis Dolarhyde, or the Tooth Fairy/the Dragon, had a pretty awful childhood (to put it mildly.) Born to a mother who rejects him because of a deformity, a hare lip, then raised by a sadistic grandmother who adopts him for the sole purpose to get revenge on her daughter (not because she loves the boy). As a result of growing devoid of all love, he turns out a little off. Surprise!!

    Where Dolarhyde has no empathy, Will has too much. This is what makes him a good profiler; he is able to almost ‘become’ the person he is hunting, to understand them.

    “Graham had a lot of trouble with taste. Often his thoughts were not tasty. There were no effective partitions in his mind. What he saw and learned touched everything else he knew. Some of the combinations were hard to live with. But he could not anticipate them, could not block and repress. His learned values of decency and propriety tagged along, shocked at his associations, appalled at his dreams; sorry that in the bone arena of his skull there were no forts for what he loved. His associations came at the speed of light. His value judgments were at the pace of a responsive reading. They could never keep up and direct his thinking. He viewed his own mentality as grotesque but useful, like a chair made of antlers. There was nothing he could do about it.”

    That’s pretty dark stuff to deal with and still fight to maintain sanity.

    When all was said and done I suppose I ‘enjoyed’ this book. But yet I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was very well done……it kept my attention throughout, but I don’t think this type of book is all that good for me. While I love dark books, I seem to need them to be a bit fanciful…….not of the real world. All the stuff that happens in the real world is depressing enough, bombings, school shootings, and kids shooting other kids to death, I feel the need to escape from that.

    Books like this are just more of that. Oddly enough though, I think the new TV show is fantastic.

    I now am reading a book about the Tao de Ching (that has an unfortunate title) hoping it will clean up my brain……..

    Also posted on

  • Karla
    May 14, 2013

    Since I've become a fan of the TV show

    , I thought it was appropo to re-read the book that inspired it. It's been years, and I'd forgotten practically everything about both the book and the Edward Norton/Ralph Fiennes movie. Even so, it wasn't like I was reading it fresh. Hannibal Lecter's become such a part of the pop culture that I had expectations, also intensified by the fact that

    kicks total ass.

    Comparing the show

    Since I've become a fan of the TV show

    , I thought it was appropo to re-read the book that inspired it. It's been years, and I'd forgotten practically everything about both the book and the Edward Norton/Ralph Fiennes movie. Even so, it wasn't like I was reading it fresh. Hannibal Lecter's become such a part of the pop culture that I had expectations, also intensified by the fact that

    kicks total ass.

    Comparing the show to the novel was a lot of fun, because you can see the pieces that have been lifted, altered and paid homage to by Bryan Fuller & Co. Bits of dialogue, minor characters, etc. It's very much like fanfiction, probably one of the best examples I can name of something that has the "inspired by/adapted from/based on" label.

    Whereas the show focuses heavily on Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, their intricate personalities and evolving (or devolving) relationship, the book's emphasis is on the serial killer, especially in the latter half. Lecter only has a couple scenes, and Graham wasn't nearly as interesting as how Hugh Dancy portrays him.

    I didn't get the same amount of happy happies from his snarky charm.

    Or feelz from his incredible angst.

    Or the happy that is really screaming and dying inside:

    Instead of being tortured and tormented by his awful gift of empathy and making me want to corner the market on hugs so I can donate them all to the poor dear, book!Will came off as a bit of a snippy asshole with his wife (though she's not a big help) and somewhat of a typical detective on the scent who is clueless for far too long. (I wanted to yell at him to make the obvious connection of the home movies between the various victims.) But he was an engaging enough protagonist.

    And even though I was prepared for his general absence, I still really missed lots of face time with this glorious bastard.

    And stuff like this goes without saying:

    This'll definitely stay on my keeper shelf because the last half galloped along once Harris turned the plot's focus on to Francis Dolarhyde as a person instead of the killer in the background (and I had uninterrupted time to read and really get into the story - funny how that works). I got the sense that Harris felt he was the most interesting character and poured the story's emotion and understanding into creating him. I certainly felt like he was the deepest character out of the entire cast.

    Overall, I think what

    has inspired is generally better than the book itself as a whole, but it's still a very worthwhile read.

    3 1/2 stars, closer to 4.

    * = All dedicated to Rachel, who made me see the beauty and addictiveness of Hugh!Will feelz. :D

  • Elena
    Jul 13, 2013

    Insane.

    And that's exactly why I loved it.

    Off to the next one.