Review: The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris

the silence of the lambs book cover

Hannibal Lecter #2

FBI trainee Clarice Starling is working hard to prove herself and make something of herself at the Bureau. Head of the Behavioural Unit is Jack Crawford, who calls Clarice in to set her on an assignment. The assignment? To talk to convicted serial killer, psychiatrist and cannibal, Dr Hannibal Lecter. Just a routine interview for their databases, nothing more. Clarice is unsure as to why she would be requested to do this considering that Lecter has not spoken to anyone in years. Regardless, she goes to meet Lecter, who surprisingly meets with her and talks to her. He sends her on a mission which ultimately culminates in her discovering a severed head and a whole lot of new questions.

Crawford, meanwhile, is hunting Buffalo Bill, a serial killer that is skinning women and dumping their bodies in rivers. He needs to find him. Lecter wishes to help with the Buffalo Bill case, but Clarice knows nothing of it and is not there for that. After her meeting with Lecter, Crawford takes her with to a crime scene of a victim of Buffalo Bill, a young girl, and Clarice is asked to fingerprint the deceased and inspect the body. Lodged in the girl’s throat she finds a moth, which opens up a new avenue for them to explore. Crawford, meanwhile, dismisses anything and everything that Clarice tells him Lecter told her in connection with the Buffalo Bill case, not wanting any help from the madman he despises.

Catherine Baker Martin, the daughter of a powerful senator, goes missing, and it is soon established that Buffalo Bill is the man who took her. Crawford relents and decides that they are going to have to work the angle of using Hannibal Lecter, as he may provide answers or leads for them, but they keep Senator Ruth Martin out of it, knowing that playing with her will thrill Lecter more than helping them find her daughter. Frederick Chilton, head of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, gets a little too involved with trying to get back at Starling for rejecting him and Hannibal embarrassing him all those years ago, and instead tells the senator that Lecter could possibly help and that Crawford is keeping her out of the loop. It is arranged that Lecter will be taken to speak directly with Senator Martin and discuss who has her daughter.

Does Hannibal Lecter really know who has Catherine Baker Martin? Will Buffalo Bill kill Catherine just to get rid of her because the police are taking this one that much more seriously? Will Clarice finish up her training at the FBI and go on to become an agent? What will happen now that Lecter is being moved away from Chilton and into a place he would prefer more?

GRADE 8This book was very entertaining. I was hooked and I enjoyed the writing style and characters, although not many of them advance. I know that Clarice Starling may have the more popular movies, and that she is the one that Harris eventually fixated on, and she is a very compelling character and all that, I am just that much more taken with Will Graham. But let’s move away from that. Harris is a talented writer with a knack for bringing the disturbing to the page. I found it enjoyable how he brought in some of the technology and techniques of the day it was written in, as well as the procedures, making it feel a lot more authentic. As for Dr Hannibal Lecter? He thrilled me, again. Not that I expected anything else, but wow. I have to give the movie credit for remaining pretty damn loyal to the book, and being one of the best page to screen adaptions I have ever seen. Naturally I am recommending this. The plot was solid, the dialogue entertaining and interesting, keeping you at the edge of your seat, Starling’s history was laid out and had quite a bit going for it, and her relationship with Hannibal was an odd one, though interesting.

27 thoughts on “Review: The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris

  1. Yay! I read this one. My copy is full of typos though lol.
    Thomas Harris is one of the better writers in my collection. I love how he writes these twisted serial killers. Slightly prefer Red Dragon, as I was always more interested by Graham than Starling, but this still ranks very highly. I seem to recall the final book disappointing me however.


    1. So it isn’t just mine?! Phew!

      He is a very good writer. Completely agreed, Graham is more fascinating than Starling. Hannibal Rising? When I get there we will see… looking forward to it.


    2. Typos?? Are you sure you weren’t reading your Tijuana Bibles again??

      P.S. if you don’t know what those are be careful googling them….


  2. Fine book review, Zoe. Thomas Harris’ trilogy of Red Dragon, Silence of the Lamb, and Hannibal (Hannibal Rising doesn’t really work as fourth, IMO) is really fascinating. Especially if you read them continuously in a row.


    1. Thank you very much. I am very much on it at the moment. Harris writes exceptionally well, I am rather taken with his work. Very intricate! It seems the general consensus is that Hannibal Rising is not so great.


  3. Dearest JBSB,

    Sounds good! Is there anything in here that the movie does NOT cover? I’ve seen the movie 1,000 times…




    1. Dearest USC,

      To be honest, not really. Small things are altered. For instance, he did not phone her at the end, but he wrote her a letter. The things she was thinking, like internal dialogue. Small things, so small that they could be overlooked. I was extremely impressed by the loyalty the movie showed the book.



      PS: Great movie to watch so many times! 😛


      1. Teaching SSC,

        I didn’t get the time to. It was a wretched day yesterday 😦 Hoping for some time a little later this afternoon when everyone leaves the building!




      2. Passingest JB,

        I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!!!! WOOOO HOOOOO!!!!

        I am hoping to do some writing today too 🙂





      3. SC,

        THANK YOU FOR ALL THE FLICKS!!! They made all the difference in the world.

        I hope you get some done, it will be most awesome!





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