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Book: Red Dragon (RIP)

September 26, 2011
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Unless you count Hunger Games, this is my first RIP book of the season! I feel like I missed a book somewhere, but oh well.

I was looking for “scary books” on the internets and this book kept coming up over and over on the lists, so I thought I would give it a try since my library was surprisingly short on RIP-appropriate books.

This is the first book in which we meet Dr. Hannibal Lecter, one of the most charismatic villains on page or screen, ever. I first met him when Silence of the Lambs came out when I was in high school — saw the movie, was terrified, loved it. I later read the book and it too was just incredible.

So I was a little disappointed that he didn’t play a larger role in this book, although I understand why, since of course there is another main character altogether. Still, Lecter’s presence is felt throughout the book and when it’s not, we miss it.

The main baddie of this book is Francis Dolarhyde, a severely damaged individual with some pretty intense mother-issues. He is obsessed with Blake’s painting “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed In The Sun” and feels that he is Becoming the Red Dragon himself. And what does the Red Dragon want? All sorts of nasty things. Very, very bad disturbing things. And poor Francis (by the end, I began to feel sorry for Francis, clearly in the grip of a terrible mental/emotional disorder and struggling to fight it) must obey the Dragon.

I found the investigator, Will, kind of boring. He was supposed to be this fascinating guy with a great talent for solving profile mysteries, but I found him to be kind of whiny and annoying. I thought the bad guys were WAY better in this book. That’s sort of the point, yes? Interesting bad guys?

Not very horrifying or scary, but certainly suspenseful, interesting, a little gory, but ultimately a pretty good read. The ending was a letdown, too. So I guess my overall assessment is: Great start, good bad guys, Hannibal Lecter: yay!, boring good guys, bizarre tangents, emotional distress at feeling sad for bad guy, bad ending.

Would I read it again, knowing what I know now? Yes, because hello, Hannibal Lecter!

Not really that great for RIP but what can you do when you are relying on the library? Next up: Flavia de Luce! Yes! Now that’s what I’m talking about.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2011 8:00 am

    James read this one long time ago and I seem to recall he thought it just so-so. I won’t be reading it though. This is the kind of book that would give me bad dreams.

    • September 27, 2011 4:57 pm

      It was kind of so-so. I think I’m jaded to most horrible things in books now. So sad.

  2. September 27, 2011 1:14 pm

    *Your shelf* is short on RIP reads??? Will wonders never cease?

    I’ve never read any Harris outside of The Silence of the Lambs, which was more or less like required reading when the film came out. Which scared the ever-lovin’ crap out of me. And yet I still try to work ‘It puts the lotion on its skin’ line into every possible context I can find, which is probably pretty creepy in itself. I swear I’m not a psychopath.

    I’m really curious how precisely Lecter is in the novel? Is he Francis’ psychiatrist? I can’t remember if Lecter was a medical doctor or psychiatrist…it’s been so long.

    • September 27, 2011 4:58 pm

      My silly library has a short supply of RIP! And I rarely buy books. So… oh well. The Lambs book was SO GOOD, right?

      Lecter was in the novel in much the same capacity as he was in Silence of the Lambs — as a consultant to an investigator. He was more menacing in the second book, by far.

  3. September 29, 2011 3:20 pm

    hannibal lecter scares the bejesus out of me.

  4. September 30, 2011 10:49 am

    Found you via Tammie…

    The movie freaked me out in a good yet disturbing way. So for the same reason I steer clear os Stephen King movies, I have to avoid these too! I keep the images in my head waaaaaaaaaaaay too long after I’ve finished the book…

    • September 30, 2011 7:34 pm

      Hello and welcome! I think I might need to see the movie. I know what you mean about Stephen King books. I still have a hard time when I see an old classic car, headlights dark, on a lonely street…I always imagine them flashing on and Christine coming my way…

  5. October 8, 2011 3:28 pm

    Got love Hannibal, Silence of the Lambs movie is my ultimate favorite and I agree the book was fascinating also. Great honest review you captured the great and ‘boring’ well.

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