Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

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Red Dragon by Thomas Harris The novel Red Dragon by author Thomas Harris has 454 pages and I have divided them into 4 sections. The first section of this book will be 113 pages long and consist of exactly 10 chapters. The summary of the first ten chapters is the following.

The story starts off as we meet the man called Hannibal Lecter for the very first time.

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Hannibal's occupation is his passion and also what he's best at, psychiatry. He has been helping out the Federal Bureau of Investigation by giving his advice of forensic sciences on a serious murder case. Working with the FBI's special agent Will Graham, in charge of the case, they would meet once a week to discuss further evidence found at crime scenes. Will and Lecter have been tracking a serial killer for over 7 months. Will working the field and Hannibal helping out behind the scenes trying to get into the killers state of mind. However, their routine came to an abrupt end late one evening at Dr. Lecter's office.

After one of Lecter's dinner parties with guests from the Baltimore Philharmonic Orchestra, Agent Will Graham came over just to visit and chat a little while. As Will continued with conversation about their killer he realized that this man was in fact not keeping souvenirs from his victims but, that he was eating them. Lecter understanding he was on a productive role this time and offered to take Graham's jacket so that he would stay longer and reach further success. Waiting for Hannibal to return, Will walked around the doctor's office until coming upon a book titled "Larousse Gastronomique", sitting on Lecter's bookcase. It was medical book of flesh wounds and their graphic images. Will opened to the page marked and right under the photo of a human eyeball was written in pen, "sweetbreads". Will dropped the book and turned with his gun but it was too late, Hannibal behind him stabbed him with a knife. Will falling to the floor, quickly grabbed a hold of the antique swords posted on the wall and drove them through the side of Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal stood up and walked to the special agent but it was too late for him. Graham unloaded a round of bullets shooting the upper left shoulder of the doctor and the wall behind him.

The trial of the century began and Hannibal was given life sentences for more then nine accounts of murder. His lawyer worked hard to get him off on the insanity plead, which left Hannibal's future to be behind the bars at the Baltimore Mental Institution instead of serving his time in their state prison. During that time, Will Graham retired from the Bureau and moved to Marathon, Florida to live happily with his wife Molly and their young son.

Eight years have past, when the FBI needed the guidance of ex special agent Will Graham again. Jack Crawford, the head of the bureau's forensic science division, called Will. Crawford told him exactly what he knew and all the other information that has been left out of the papers. Two families were dead, one in Birmingham and one in Atlanta. The Leed's and the Jacobi's killed a month apart in their homes. Will wasn't happy nor excited at the fact Jack was doing this to him. However, having the chance to save people's lives was just something a man like Will Graham couldn't say no to. Convincing his wife to let him go back was actually the hardest thing.

Will went to the first house in Atlanta. He didn't want other agents their interfering with his method of work so he went alone. Searching the entire house he didn't come over anything unusual or any other material the local police didn't already pick up on. Will spent his time their trying to relive what had taking place, inside his mind, just by looking at the way the room was left and where the blood rested on the walls and furniture.

Back to the office in Washington a couple days later, Will went over the pieces of evidence in the unit's laboratory. Reading over the statements given by local police Graham found out there were traces of talcom found on the bodies of the victims. He automatically assumed the killer was wearing gloves and took them off to touch the people, finally wiping them back down to avoid any fingerprints. Will called up the funeral home to get the bodies back out and looked over one last time. Sure enough the killer had no control over the eyeballs and fingernail paint from Ms. Leeds. A partial thumb print was found on the eye, and the palm of a hand markings on her fingernails.

Leaving the office Will and Crawford ran into Freddie Lounds. He was the reporter for "The National Tattler" tabloid magazine, writing the article on the Lecter case. Freddie continued asking Graham questions on this new case up until Will exploded and Crawford had to step in front of the two.

Crawford took Will out for supper at a local diner to cool things off. Thinking over the scenario and relating it to the evidence just wasn't enough for Will. He couldn't come up with anything to find himself a lead. He needed help like when he used to work these cases. He needed Lecter.

Will Graham went for the first time to the Baltimore Mental Hospital the very next day. He thought it going to be difficult to face the man he hasn't seen in years, Hannibal Lecter, the man who had forever changed his life. Dr. Chilton, head of staff at the Asylum, took Graham down to what they call the dungeon. Holding cells consisting of three people. The third one being of course the mad doctor Hannibal Lecter. Down at the end and in a glass concealed room rather than bars. Just incase anyone got a little too close to the bars. The conversation started off very awkward, Lecter using his knowledge of psychology and practically answering every question with another question. Will then got right to the point. He offered Lecter a couple promises like internet access, some of the doctor's old books back, drawing paper and a couple other little things Lecter may be interested in. Only if he was willing to help out with the case. Lecter takes the file, with photos and tells Graham he will need a little over an hour and privacy to think things over. When Will returned, Hannibal said he would of course help him out with his case.

Towards the end of this first part we are introduced to a new character named Francis Dolarhyde. He works at the Gateway Film Laboratory in St. Louis. He's at the cafeteria when a girl he works with, Eileen sits down and starts to talk. They were getting off that day at work the same time and Francis offered to take her home. Eileen is blind and she takes the transit bus to work and home form work each day. The chapter ends when this new mysterious character is back at his house with this girl and they're talking to each other as they sit down by the fire. We leave the room as they're chatting, and then this section ends.

After reading the first chapter of this novel, I was captivated with the pure non- stop action, right from the get-go. The story line went from the Orchestra dinner conversation, to the Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham fight scene, and finally ending with the trial of the century coming to an end. The fast pace came to a halt after the first chapter but knowing Thomas Harris, and I have read his books before, that there won't be much time until another twist or turn takes place.

I found this section difficult to follow when there were flashbacks to Hannibal's childhood. I couldn't understand where and what was taking place. I just got the drift of it. I learned that Hannibal was born in Tuscany Lithuania and lived on a farm. His family was rich, his father was a count and his mother inherited money from relatives and she never worked. Hannibal had a twin sister named Mishka. When he was just seven years, it was cold winter and two Nazi's were lost out in the woods. They came across Lecter's farm, rounded up the family and some other children and kept them in the barn. The Nazi's lived in Lecter's house but when there was no more food left, they went out to the barn. Each day they would kill another person and eat. After the parents were eaten, the Nazi's chose Mishka, the twin sister of Hannibal to eat. Lecter had to watch his entire family be eaten at the age of only seven. He was the only one that survived when the Nazi's left in spring.

I learned from reading about Lecter's insanity pleads that he doesn't kill because he enjoys it, but that he chooses to kill to show his contempt to those who exasperate him.

After this section ends I predict we will find out more about this new character Francis Dolarhyde and his life, as well I believe Graham will visit the Jacobi's house because it's the only place he hasn't been yet. Finally I predict there will be a few more meeting with Hannibal Lecter before too long.

The author is qualified to write this story because in the foreword, before the story starts, it states that Thomas Harris had been a crime writer for the National Post before he began writing novels in 1985. He has a lot of experience relating to crime writing and can do a great job creating fiction given his prior knowledge to how the FBI works.

The genre of this story I think would fall under crime writing or psychological thriller rather than a horror book. The story line deals with the FBI, investigating, evidence studying and the practice of psychiatry and psychology more than anything.

This first section was a very effective piece of writing. We learn about how the killings took place and the many ways of discovering evidence. As well, readers have the first chance to get inside the mind of Hannibal Lecter as he tries to get into the mind of another serial killer.
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