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Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  141,572 ratings  ·  2,071 reviews
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 retiremen ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Berkley (first published November 16th 1980)
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When it comes to Hannibal Lecter, I’m like one of those music hipster douche bags that everyone hates because I’ll snootily declare that I knew about him long before most people did and that he’s sucked ever since he got really famous.

I’d read this years before the book of The Silence of the Lambs came out and led to the excellent film adaptation that skyrocketed Hannibal to the top of pop culture villains. Hell, I’m so Hannibal-hip that I’d caught Brian Cox playing him in Michael Mann’s adapta
WARNING: Shameless Hannibal fangirl GIFspam.

Since I've become a fan of the TV show Hannibal, I thought it was appropo to re-read the book that inspired it. It's been years, and I'd forgotten practically everything about both the book and the Edward Norton/Ralph Fiennes movie. Even so, it wasn't like I was reading it fresh. Hannibal Lecter's become such a part of the pop culture that I had expectations, also intensified by the fact that Hannibal kicks total ass. (WATCH EEEEEET!)

Comparing the show
Now that I’ve just finished reading this book, I feel the need to scrub parts of my brain with steel wool for the purpose of removing certain scenes that Thomas Harris has so rudely embedded there. Thanks a bunch Tom!

Will Graham has the rotten luck at being really good at his job. He is a profiler for the FBI and while he was on the job catching Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Lecter caught him with a big sharp knife. Will decides that was enough for him, so he makes the wise decision to retire.

But nooo!
Is it heresy to say that I liked both film versions better than I liked the book? Probably, but it's true.

Thomas Harris isn't the finest writer in the world, and I think even he'd acknowledge that, but he is full of great ideas, and Red Dragon is absolutely one of his best.

I think the mark of how great his ideas are is that they almost always make a compelling transfer to the screen, and Red Dragon has made that transition twice: once as Michael Mann's Manhunter and once as the more faithful Re
Benjamin Stahl
I think I recall Stephen King - or somebody - once writing that Thomas Harris could tell a great story, but that he was a terrible writer. When I began this book, I could not agree more. Things start off very slowly, and the book's thriller/suspense engine seems to be running flat. The villain (can we really call him a "villain" though?) is the only character that feels at all interesting - and I guess Hannibal is good, but I prefer the Hopkins version in the films. But after a little while, if ...more
I have been avoiding Thomas Harris’ books for years because I thought they would be too gruesome. But really, this book isn’t bad at all.

Red Dragon starts out as a mystery, turns into a character study, and then ends up as kind of a thriller. I think Harris has kind of a ghoulish sense of humor which probably comes out the most in Hannibal Lector. Yet if you’re looking for Hannibal, he barely makes an appearance in this. Mostly the book about is about a very sympathetic serial killer (isn’t tha
Well, I haven't read this since middle school, the first time I was obsessed with Hannibal Lecter. OMG, he's like a evil Niles Crane, how can I resist? Epitome of sexiness, yes? All that wine and opera and expensive suits and being snobby about stuff I don't care about. I have no idea why I am so attracted to that. Cheekbones, maybe? Oh, and he kills people. And eats them. uh... well he's meant to be a creepily seductive character, can't help it, that's my excuse. Nothing like a real serial kill ...more
Our darkest fears come to life in this riveting novel as we follow the case of the "Tooth Fairy," a serial killer on the loose who targets suburbian families as his victims. Will Graham, an FBI agent assigned to the case because of his unique ability to break inside the head of the killer, enlists the help of Hannibal Lecter, the criminally insane and exceptionally brilliant killer we met in Silence of the Lambs (incidently, this novel precedes that novel and film).

If you want to be thrilled,
Sep 13, 2007 Robotribble rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Mysteries, Detective Stories, and Hannibal Lecter.
Okay, to start off, Hannibal is in the book twice. There are only two times that you actually see him, and it upsets me greatly.

Anyway, huzzah for the dollar-rack paperback. I went to the thrift store Tuesday, came out with this and a few others, and finished it Wednesday afternoon. I read the version with a newer intro, but it doesn't have my version on Goodreads.

Why Goodreads, why have you forsaken me? :/

This book is fascinating. You actually start to feel bad for the villain, hoping that he c
Agent Denna
After recently finishing season 1 of NBCs Hannibal, I had high expectations of this book. Both Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelson expertly portrayed Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter respectively, successfully creating an interesting and rocky relationship which captured my complete attention and left me reeling ad desperate for more from episode to episode. As Hannibal is a prequel to Red Dragon and I have yet to see the movies, I was extremely interested to see how their relationship had panned out. ...more
This was my first Thomas Harris read, and it definitely won't be my last. Actually, halfway through Red Dragon, I bought the next book in the Lecter series, Silence of the Lambs.

I have always been kind of fascinated with Dr. Lecter after seeing the movie adaptation of Silence of the Lambs, (not too sure what that says about me...), so I was pretty eager to get started on the series. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed there wasn't a bit more about Lecter, but really, while he is a cent
Raeden Zen
Suspenseful, Intriguing, Unique Horror Thriller

A serial killer the authorities nicknamed the "Tooth Fairy" (for his signature bite marks he leaves on his victims' bodies) has killed two seemingly random families, one in Alabama and another in Georgia. FBI agent Jack Crawford recalls his protege Will Graham - who captured the brilliant psychopath, Hannibal Lecter - to Washington to help him decipher the case before the next family dies. Will Graham is at once mysterious, talented and stubborn, bu
Branwen *Blaidd Drwg*
"Why shouldn't killing feel good? It must feel good to God-He does it all the time, and are we not made in His image?"

Loved this book! Just wish Hannibal was in it more than his few brief appearances. Lots of psychological thrills, lots of action, lots of emotion.

I'm super tired so I will add to this review when I am not falling asleep at my keyboard. ;)
Querus Abuttu
"Funerals often make us want sex—
--it’s one in the eye for death." (Thomas Harris; Red Dragon)

The character of Will Graham reminded me of myself as I read this novel. "He didn't want a face aimed at him all the time." He described the morgue as a peaceful place, and it is. I've been there. It's place where the dead don't complain. Where the world might smell bad, but the science makes sense.


I don't know why people continue to call the smell of blood "coppery." It's not. It smells lik
Glad I re-read this one. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

RED DRAGON was the first (published) installment in the series of four books surrounding Hannibal Lecter. We don't see much of the good doctor in this book, though he's obviously never far from the thoughts of Will Graham and, therefore, the reader. Like the second installment of the series, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, Lecter is merely a secondary character, a serial killer on the loose leads us to him. It takes a killer to know one, and esp
Irene Lê
2.5 stars . Thomas Harris had ideas, but he was a very bad writer.

His writing style is unreadable to me . It's curtailed with extreme brevity, sprayed with an excessive amount of dialogues as if he was writing a play, while sometimes he didn't say who said what, so it's confusing to me because I kept having to double back to the start of the conversation and see who speaks first, who speaks next.... Worst of all, almost every character had the same speaking style, in tedious tones, like this:
David "proud member of Branwen's adventuring party"
Most people were introduced to Dr. Hannibal Lecter by the "Silence of the Lambs" movie, but Lecter's legacy really began with this novel, and it's still my favorite of the series. A book that manages to be terrifying not through gore or supernatural occurrences, but simply by exploring the fractured minds of the criminally insane.

People who only saw the Red Dragon movie and didn't read this yet should be warned in advance that Hannibal Lecter has little more than a cameo appearance in this nove
Benjamin Thomas
This has long been a mainstay and must-read for fans of psychological thrillers. And it is, of course, the first book of the Hannibal Lecter series. So I had pretty high expectations as I began reading and, for the most part, it lived up to them. We do get introduced to the infamous Dr Lecter during this book but with only one scene of any length. That scene was, for me, the best scene in the book and undoubtedly goes a long way towards elevating that character to the heights of most lists of me ...more
Will Errickson
A masterful work of psychological and indeed physical terror. Thomas Harris's brilliantly understated yet precise prose elevates RED DRAGON from pop thriller to a somber rumination on morality and violence. Francis Dolarhyde is a psychopath unlike any other in fiction. Will Graham is the FBI profiler after him, at a time when serial killer profiling was still a half-formed science. Harris keeps the suspense taut and the narrative will scoop you up, breathless and fascinated. Neither of its movie ...more
Jim Peterson
It’s been a really long time since I last read a detective novel. I just got tired of them. This, however, was excellent. Frequently the only well developed characters in these books are the killer and the detective. But this had several interesting characters and the killer himself was so intricately developed that you almost felt sorry for him and almost (but not quite) hoped he would get away with it. If this was already so good, I can’t wait to read Silence of the Lambs.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter is a criminally insane brilliant psychiatrist and eats people. Another serial killer is introduced known as the Tooth Fairy who goes on random killing sprees and has a slight predilection towards a William Blake painting. In order to capture him, FBI agent Will Graham has to delve into the mind of this violent psychopath. It's all very gruesome.
The beginning to this series is not what I expected- I mean it's a series about Dr. Hannibal Lecter and he wasn't the prime focus of the novel. I wasn't expecting to be reading about the Tooth Fairy in the beginning but it wasn't the worst thing. As I read more and more into this story, it became really interesting. It revolves around this strange psychopath who had this cruel past. It has many twists and personal ties to the main character, Will Graham- who also is able to look past psychopathi ...more
A truly chilling book, this is one of Harris’s finest works. Talk about an abundance of ideas. It’s no surprise that he later expanded the character of Hannibal Lecter because, in this book, he provides not one, but two terrific antagonists plus a brilliantly original protagonist. The whole “profiler who empathizes with serial killers” thing has become somewhat over-saturated now, but it’s important to remember that Harris was the one who started it and, I would say, still did it the best in thi ...more
I have given this review a lot of thought and I am pretty speechless. Just Wow!!! I have seen all of the movies a very long time ago but never read the books. Going into this was almost like being exposed to these characters for the first time which was great. I liked forming my own ideas of what these characters are supposed to be. After reading this one, I have to give credit to the actors, and casting directors of the movies. Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, and Ralph Finnes, played these char ...more
Janie Johnson
This is my first time reading any of the Lecter novels or anything by Harris. I gotta say that is totally consumed my time. I loved the way the book flowed and I loved how Harris told the story. I also really enjoyed how the story raised a lot of questions, gave you something to think about.

There was a couple of things I would have liked to have seen. A bit more fast paced action than there was. I felt it was missing some important scenes that would have made a much bigger impact on the story. A
I admit it.

I only read this book to preserve the order of the novels featuring Hannibal Lecter.

With no expectations, I viewed this book as nothing more than a little speed bump I had to overcome in order to get to the real book I wanted to read, The Silence of the Lambs.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The book itself isn't remarkably written. The style is very simple and straight forward for the type of novel that it is but this just serves to make it very accessible.

It's very interesting to read this now, when I'm nearly at the end of my crime fiction course, because I've got some idea of what the trends in crime fiction are, and what's new or interesting or different about various texts. For example, the inclusion of serial killers and particularly the focus on them -- the invitation to identify with them, at least in Dolarhyde's case. I'm probably going to write my essay on the changing representation of the criminal over the course of the 20th century. T ...more
Jacqueline Wagenstein
"Има ли по-ужасяващ персонаж в литературата и киното от д-р Ханибал "Канибалът" Лектър... Той е изтънчен, интелигентен и услужлив, но ако реши да ви сготви за вечеря, няма да има никакви морални скрупили, които да го спрат. Той е най-страшният вид психопат-този, който осъзнава какво върши, просто му доставя удоволствие.

"Червения дракон" е първата книга от поредицата за Ханибал. В нея главен герой е Уил Греъм-агент на ФБР, принуден от заплетен случай да да се обърне към неизчерпаемите познания н
This was sooooo good! Not even once I got bored while reading this, and I usually do especially in crime/thriller novels. I developed a liking for Will Graham. And I already liked Hannibal. I have this weird inclination to smart-assed psychopaths, I like the way they think. The plot was really good too. And it had a few funny bits I wasn't expecting. This is definitely worth the read!
Oct 13, 2013 Nerdie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the Hannibal Lecter films/ TV series, those who like dark storylines, sympathetic villians
Dark, creepy, disturbing. I loved this book! This was my first crime novel but it blew me away. Harris really creates a disturbing atmosphere and makes you feel for the characters, even the villains. If you like the Hannibal films or especially the TV series then you'd enjoy this one.

5 outta 5 stars!!
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Thomas Harris began his writing career covering crime in the United States and Mexico, and was a reporter and editor for the Associated Press in New York City. His first novel, Black Sunday, was printed in 1975, followed by Red Dragon in 1981, The Silence of the Lambs in 1988, Hannibal in 1999, and Hannibal Rising in 2006.
More about Thomas Harris...

Other Books in the Series

Hannibal Lecter (4 books)
  • The Silence of the Lambs  (Hannibal Lecter, #2)
  • Hannibal (Hannibal Lecter, #3)
  • Hannibal Rising (Hannibal Lecter, #4)
The Silence of the Lambs  (Hannibal Lecter, #2) Hannibal (Hannibal Lecter, #3) Hannibal Rising (Hannibal Lecter, #4) Black Sunday Red Dragon And Silence Of The Lambs

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“It's hard to have anything isn't it? Rare to get it, hard to keep it. This is a damn slippery planet.” 106 likes
“It's fear, Jack. The man deals with a huge amount of fear.'
Because he got hurt?'
No, not entirely. Fear comes with imagination, it's a penalty, it's the price of imagination.”
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