Book Review: “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris

Warning: If you have not read “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris, don’t read this review unless you want spoilers!

I’m back with another book review, and it’s “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris that I’m reviewing this time around! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“A second family has been massacred by the terrifying serial killer the press has christened “The Tooth Fairy.” Special Agent Jack Crawford turns to the one man who can help restart a failed investigation?Will Graham. Graham is the greatest profiler the FBI ever had, but the physical and mental scars of capturing Hannibal Lecter have caused Graham to go into early retirement. Now, Graham must turn to Lecter for help.”

If you’ve been following my tumblr, you might’ve noticed the crisis of me struggling to write a Hannibal/Bravely Default crossover a while ago (I’m still writing it up at the time of writing this post, by the way!). I figured turning to the source material might be a very helpful insight into the characters, and I also figured—why not write a book review while I’m at it? So, here we go!

What I really loved about this book was the character development for all the main characters. Hannibal Lecter himself plays a smaller role than I expected, but he is chilling in every single scene where he’s present. It’s clear from the get-go as of how he affects Will, even down to the tiniest of actions like sending him a card while he’s still stuck in prison. He’s clearly intimidating, even though he’s stuck in prison, and just because he’s in prison doesn’t mean that he doesn’t do anything. I would elaborate more on this, but it would be a major spoiler and so I will refrain from doing so. Will has good reason to not want to be around him, even if he has to do so in order to solve the case, and the dynamic displayed between Hannibal and Will is really fun and fascinating to read overall.

Much of the book focused on Francis Dolarhyde, who is soon revealed about a third through the book as the ‘Tooth Fairy’ serial killer that Will and the FBI are trying to catch. Francis’ struggle with his split personality, the Dragon, as well as his growing (and tragic) romance with Reba were both equally fun to read and supplemented the bulk of the plot other than Will investigating the murders and trying to catch Francis. Francis and Reba, despite being an ultimately tragic ship, was an incredibly interesting one to read in terms of how it affected the rest of the events in the book, as well as their individual development. I should also note that it’s probably a surprisingly healthy ship—both of them accept each other and don’t make a big deal about Francis having his speech impediment or Reba being blind. Hell, Francis’ development half-hinges on his struggle with the Dragon being because he doesn’t want her to get hurt (and he thankfully succeeds in making sure she gets away safely before he succumbs to the Dragon itself). Even Graham notes that it was because of Reba being there for Francis that probably made him want to try to do better.

While I’m talking about Francis still, his darkest scenes involving him being under the Dragon’s influence, including him killing Freddie in a very horrific manner that I won’t spoil here, it was so interesting to read the contrasts between his normal self and how he was as the Dragon, as this commanding, definitely frightening presence.

I know I’ve been elaborating a lot on the characters, but they really, truly,  are what drive the overall plot. Every single main character involved in this really gets to shine in this book, and I honestly can’t really critique anything about this book. The overall plot made sense, the setting made sense, the worldbuilding made sense…honestly, this might be one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.

With that being said, I’m rating “Red Dragon” 5 out of 5 stars!

This was a fantastic read, and I’d definitely recommend giving it a try!

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