Sunday, October 10, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 61

This is an ongoing series looking at books that influenced me as a fantasy author.

Red Dragon
by Thomas Harris

Red DragonIn 1991, I sometimes wore a knowing sneer on my lips. Why? Because the movie The Silence of the Lambs was released and suddenly the whole world became familiar with fictional cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter and the author, Thomas Harris, who created the character.

See, I'd been familiar with Lecter for a decade at that point, since reading Harris 1981 novel, Red Dragon. And I'd read the novel The Silence of the Lambs when it came out in 1988. To me, Lecter was old hat. Because of that, I felt like I was one of those people in the know.

It can be a fun feeling when you're young, but eventually you grow and realize it's kind of silly.

Still, I know about Hannibal Lecter before everybody else did. ;-)

To be honest, I also prefer the story in Red Dragon, though I freely admit The Silence of the Lambs is a darn good novel and movie. Unfortunately, the first movie version of Red Dragon, 1986's Manhunter, was a flop of a movie, and deservedly so because it just wasn't that great of a movie. The 2002 movie Red Dragon is pretty decent, but I'll admit it's not as good as the movie The Silence of the Lambs. The only thing I'll say about the other two novels (so far) concerning Lecter, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising, is that I did not like where the author took the character.

Back to Red Dragon.

In this novel, Lecter is almost more of a side character than a main character, though he is an important figure to the plot. Here, a former FBI agent who retired after arresting Lecter is lured back on the job to help catch a serial killer dubbed The Tooth Fairy. Lecter comes into play when he and The Tooth Fairy enter into correspondence and Lecter attempts to help The Tooth Fairy kill the FBI agent. Of course there's a lot more to the plot than that, but I don't want to give it all away. Clarice Starling, the protagonist of The Silence of the Lambs, is nowhere to be found in this story, but that's sensible because she would likely have been a teen or even younger when the events of this tale took place.

And, to repeat, I've always liked Red Dragon over The Silence of the Lambs, despite the latter being a darn good book.

Why do I like Red Dragon so much? There are multiple factors. Being a fan of horror literature, I was drawn to this novel for it's look into the mentalities of serial killers. It really wasn't until the mid-1980s or so that the FBI began to seriously study the psyche of such criminals, and Red Dragon was one of the first novels that revealed much of how the FBI profiles serial killers. There's also the matter that is simply a well-written book with interesting characters and an above average plot.

Up next: The Hunt for Red October

1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

"1986's Manhunter, was a flop of a movie, and deservedly so because it just wasn't that great of a movie."

Thank you! I don't know how much you follow movie blogs, but man, some of those dudes (and it's always dudes) have such a boner for that flick. It is decidedly "meh." I suppose they're still suffering from the "I know about it and you don't" syndrome!