Off the Shelf
By Marcus Pan
brilliant performance as Hannibal Lecter in Thomas Harris Silence of
the Lambs captivated audiences with his coldness, brutality and
remorseless. Red Dragon, as if you didnt know, is the prequel to
Silence and concerns the movements of serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, a
harelipped madman with a split personality and a cold calculating touch.
Hannibals appearance here is barely a cameo though its an
important part of the storyline and sets the Red Dragon killer on his old
nemesis, special agent Will Graham.
When two families end up murdered with similar results, one
in Birmingham and the other in Atlanta, special agent Crawford seeks help from
Graham, now retired following his brutal ordeal and near-fatality with Hannibal
the Cannibal; the infamous Hannibal Lecter, his previous collar. Will has a
knack for understanding people his mind is too closely matched to people
like Lecters and so he can elucidate things that others will miss during
investigation. He can think like them, plan like them and observe like them.
That makes him invaluable in the chase to catch the Red Dragon in his romp
before the next full moon occurs a seeming commonplace timeframe for his
Dolarhyde is a child compared to Lecter. He is a sad,
pathetic little wimp of a man with no ego and no social life and not a bit of
social grace. As is expected, his personality shatters into distinct portions
one the Red Dragon who is capable, powerful and uncaring, creating and
helping people to feel his power and learn the truth of God as he arranges them
in his macabre killers game. The other is the sniveling Francis Dolarhyde
who, as always, is bullied by the new figure within himself.
The Red Dragon is merciless. He chooses his victims
seemingly at random, though he will look at various components of their family
lives to better them in their growth of Becoming. Dolarhydes job as a
film processor for a company that is shipped thousands of family movie film
reels from local convenience stores gives the Red Dragon access to victims
nationwide, which he can peruse at his leisure observing key points of their
household and life. The sliding glass doors, the lock on the basement, the pet
and the family are picked up in reviews of duplicated film at his home.
Brutal scenes are here. The finishing off of Tattler
journalist Freddy Lounds was twisted with only the scene of Hannibal
Lecters wakened lobotomy and cooking of grey matter from Hannibal
beating it out. The closing ending was brilliant in its cold perfection and
macabre planning. It took me completely by surprised and flashed the novel to a
brilliant and climactic ending point leaving the life and body of Will Graham
Thomas Harris work as a psycho-thriller writer is
still untouched in todays modern realm. Few characters can reach out and
choke the fear from you as Hannibal Lecter and Francis Dolarhydes alter
ego can. While Dolarhyde couldnt hold a candle to Lecter himself, as is
shown by Hannibals manipulation of the man towards his own ends, the Red
Dragon still stands as a terrifying character on the cutting edge of created
"Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
© 1981 by Yazoo Fabrications, Inc.
Cover art copyright © 2002 by
Universal Studios Publishing Rights
Foreword copyright © 2000 by Yazoo
Published by Dell Publishing,
first edition published June 1990.
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