Most helpful positive review
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant and terrifying, another masterwork from Harris
on 15 November 2010
This was the first of the series that I read, having seen the film version of Silence of the Lambs I wanted to know what happened next rather than revisit it by reading it, wonderful as it was. I thought, at the time, that there was nothing more Harris could do to frighten me. I was wrong.
Every scene is so brilliantly evocative, masterfully written and beautifully understated- from the beauty of the setting to the most horrifice of the violent scenes. The violence is present, of course- how could it not be, in a Lecter novel? But what makes this novel so terrifying is what it does to the reader themselves.
Hannibal Lecter is a monster, a cruel, inhumane being, there is no question of this, so what I found most terrifying for myself was the fact that I found myself rooting for him. I wanted him to win, I wanted him to get away, and without spoiling the plot, the ending is so deeply controversial that it is impossible to know how to feel. Should I be relieved? Angry? Pleased? I didn't know, having read the final page, and in truth, I still don't.
This book delves into Lecters mind more deeply than Silence of the Lambs (which I have now read) and what is found there is confusing, touching yet monstrous, moving and brutal. It is impossible to know how to feel about this fascinating yet inhumane creature that consumes human flesh, and his relationship with Starling becomes more and more complex and fascinating. It is a true testament to the unsung genius of Harris' writing that this is possible, that he is able to reconcile these traits, seemingly without effort on his part.
Starling is also more developed, more intriguing, having lived a few more years, and again without spoiling the plot, the developing relationship shared between her and Lecter, who have enemies on all sides is impossible to fathom and yet intimate. She is still the gutsy agent we loved from Silence of the Lambs, unflinching, selfless and proud, but older, harder, and more disillusioned, she is even more relatable than before. You find yourself conflicted, wanting Lecter to escape, but also wanting Starling to catch him.
Verger and Krendler, the main antagonists are well written, and both terrible in thier unique ways. Both have designs on our antagonists, and thier aims are so awful that, in a way, they cannot fail to be hated, simply because they are working against the protagonists. Even as antagonists, thier characters are complex and detailed. You also see the return of some old friends as Barney the Orderly and Jack Crawford make thier appearances, but you never feel as if Harris is simply rehashing old stories, everything is new and fresh.
This novel, if you hadn't already gathered from my review, is sharp, conflicting and clever, leaving you in a thoughtful daze that doesn't desist for several days. A thoroughly unputdownable, complex thriller from the brilliant mind of Thomas Harris.