Book Review: “The Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris

Warning: If you have not read “The Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris, don’t read this book unless you want spoilers!

I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “The Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris! I read the prequel to this, “Red Dragon,” and I loved it, so I thought it would be good to pick up the sequel. Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“There’s a killer on the loose who knows that beauty is only skin deep, and a trainee investigator who’s trying to save her own hide. The only man that can help is locked in an asylum. But he’s willing to put a brave face on — if it will help him escape.”

…That was vaguer that I thought it would be. Let me explain:

Like “Red Dragon,” the actions of the characters definitely drove the plot, and I’ll describe the main three here. The trainee investigator is Clarice Starling. The killer? James Gumb, a.k.a Buffalo Bill, who literally skins the women he kidnaps and murders. The man locked in the asylum? None other than Hannibal Lecter himself.

You might be wondering, where’s Will Graham? He’s mentioned a few times in the book, but it’s revealed that he became alcoholic and retained facial scars from the events of last book. I doubt we’ll be seeing him in future books, and that at best we’ll have mentions of him. I find this a bit saddening because part of me wanted some more continuity with him. We could have Clarice, our new protagonist, working with Graham or at least having a conversation about Hannibal, given the connections Will has with him, and it could have been very interesting to see how differently or similarly Hannibal affected Clarice and Will when they interact with each other personally.

Speaking of the idea of Clarice and Will working together to track down Buffalo Bill, if there is any fanfiction of these two where they do just that, please let me know. I would be interested in reading them!

Clarice Starling, however, is very interesting to read as a main character. At first, she comes off as very confident, but it becomes clear, through her interactions with Hannibal throughout the book, that she has a lot hidden within her that gives her a lot of depth. I wish could I say more about her, but that will lead to tons of spoilers. Kudos to her for rescuing the almost-next-victim of Buffalo Bill, though!

Hannibal himself had a lot more time spent on him in this book as opposed to Red Dragon, and it was interesting to read not just how he interacted with Starling, but also with how resourceful he was with what he got. He literally managed to not just torment a whole lot of people throughout the book, but he also managed to escape from prison on top of that. It was fun to read his thought process in this book, and I do wonder if he and Starling will cross paths again in the future.

James Gumb as our killer-of-the-book was not as interesting to read, compared to Dolarhyde from “Red Dragon.” This is because though we did have quite a bit of reading time on him and his inner thoughts, I found it hard to sympathize with him or understand him. I understood that he wanted to make a human flesh suit out of his victims, but the reason as of why wasn’t easy to grasp overall.

Plotwise and worldbuilding-wise, I don’t really have anything to complain about it. The investigation and all the clues found (especially the moths) were pretty interesting to read about, and I also liked the writing of the more combat-involved scenes as well.

Overall, I’m rating this book 4 out of 5 stars!

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