Hannibal “the Cannibal.” This is my first encounter with him. I’ve not watched any of the movies or TV series related to him. My memory of first hearing about Dr. Hannibal Lecter goes back to my school days when one of my teachers used to admonish the kids who bit their nails as Hannibal the Cannibal. Well, I can tell you one thing. Kids who bite their nails are really far off from what Hannibal is.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter is a forensic psychiatrist. But he is not just that. He is also a killer who eats his victims! Ironically, Hannibal was frequently consulted by the police to find out the functioning of the inner minds of serial killers before being caught.
Red Dragon is the first in the series on Hannibal by Thomas Harris. All the books in this series have been adapted into successful feature films or TV series, the most famous perhaps being The Silence of the Lambs.
The story begins with Will Graham, a former FBI agent, being asked to come out of retirement. There is a crazy killer on the loose, and the FBI and the Police Department require Will’s skills to nail the killer down. Now the first thing that will irk your curiosity is about this “skillset” of Will’s that they are after. Simply put, Will can think like a killer (not act like one though).
A small backstory here – Will can genuinely get under the skin of the perpetrator and figure out the whys and the hows. That is how he caught Hannibal when no one else was able to. But he also paid heavily for that – Hannibal maimed him and left him traumatized for life (I’m guessing the full details of this is available in one of the other books in the series).
While Will battles his inner demons, the killer, who calls himself the Red Dragon, is at large, and the law enforcement department has to act soon to put an end to the gruesome killings. With nowhere to turn to for guidance, Will reluctantly decides to pay a visit to Hannibal at his high-security prison/hospital ward. Will Hannibal help him? Or will he try to finish that which he was unsuccessful at – killing Will – using any available means? Will Will live long enough to find the Red Dragon and stop him from hacking more people?
Interspersed within all these is a little peek into the mind of the killer. These sections in the book are bound to give you sleepless nights.
The book has its highs and lows. A lot of pages flew by in a jiffy, while there were pages I had to drag myself across.
The moment of revelation, when the police finally track the killer, will leave you with goosebumps. But the best is definitely what happens following that. Thrills and chills guaranteed!
Favorites from the book:
I’m skipping this section. Tough to have favorites in this book.
P.S. It’s been a back-to-back reading of murder and crime for me. Planning to take a break from this genre for a while now.