Often toted as one of the best thrillers ever written. Perhaps this is true, though if it is true, I won't be reading a 'thriller' ever again as this book isn't half as good as I remember it. The film is infinitely better. There is something seriously wrong with a book when a cannibalistic psychopath psychiatrist is the most realistic character. I suppose this is an issue with 'thrillers' in general: the author is most interested in the villains (it is often forgotten that Lecter is not the actual villain of this novel)or crime etc and not with the 'niceness' that eventually has to triumph, to be in fitting with the moral sensibilities of what is deemed acceptable. The only manipulation of this is the best bit of the book, which is where Lecter, through impressive hard work manages to overcome adversity. Lecter aside,this book, when you boil it down, is (like many thrillers) a grim distillate of horrible facts, nothing more. The condensing of fact is in itself impressive. We hear of heads severed to hide high ligature marks from hanging, some interesting stuff about Moths (there is a undeveloped spider theme running through the book that I enjoyed), fat gaseous corpses removed from rivers 'floaters', some good descriptive psychopathology about trannies, etc etc. There are some errors also, for example Miggs chokes on his own tongue -- this is not possible if you are conscious. I realise that you a supposed to suspend your disbelief to enjoy a novel, by definition you are reading a fictive account, but there isn't much 'fiction' here to enjoy, the characters are for the most part poorly written (the most believable characters are Lecter and the guy in the basement making garments out of ladies' fat flanks), Starling is particularly poor, and if Crawford didn't have a dying wife he would cease to exist. I can see Harris umming and arring between this and making him an alcoholic. If you read this and feel like you could recommend another 'thriller' that could help re-illusion me with this type of writing feel free to list in the comments below, I would be happy to receive it.