Thursday, November 4, 2010

Red Dragon

by Thomas Harris

When a deranged killer nicknamed the “Tooth Fairy” (because of his penchant for biting) savages two families, retired FBI profiler Will Graham is lured back into the hunt.  Having been seriously injured in his last case – in which he captured the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter – Graham is reluctant, but it drawn ineluctably to putting himself in the killer’s head, despite his unraveling love life.  Harris switches the reader occasionally into the experience of the killer, Francis Dolarhyde, who prefers the name “The Red Dragon” after the series of paintings by Blake – and we learn of the terrible childhood that shaped him even as a blind co-worker, innocent of his brutal side, unknowingly brings the humanity out in him by her romantic interest.

This is a brilliantly executed novel – graphic, gruesome, gripping in its terrible suspense and the palpable evil that builds up in its pages.  But Harris, once a crime scene reporter, has also done thorough research in everything having to do with his subjects: pathology, graphology, psychology – all of which make the drama more real and immediate.  The characters are fully realized; Graham is a flawed hero with a darkly troubled past, Dolarhyde is a tragic monster that, but for a few preventable accidents, could have been human.  Fast-paced, taut, and all too real, this is a terrific thriller.

five stars

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