The Silence of the Lambs Book Review

Release: 1988, Pages: 367

I’m pretty sure everyone has seen the movie The Silence of the Lambs and I would like to think that everyone also read the book. I was guilty for the longest time of having only seen the movie, but that has all changed, as I’ve just finished The Silence of the Lambs, the second book in the Hannibal collection and I have to say it’s masterfully written, thrilling, tense and such a page turner, you’ll practically light the pages on fire. Read on for more…

Short nitty-gritty plot description from the back cover is as follows: A young FBI trainee. An evil genius locked away for unspeakable crimes. A plunge into the darkest chambers of a psychopath’s mind–in the deadly search for a serial killer…

Like I said above, if you’ve seen the movie, you know what to expect in the book. Clarice Starling, a FBI trainee, is pulled in by Jack Crawford, to interview Hannibal Lecter for a paper. During the interview, Lecter grows an appreciation for Clarice and gives her cryptic information about the killer at large, Buffalo Bill. Clarice gets roped up in the investigation and is given the task to get more information from Lecter, a brilliant psychopath, who is known to easily get inside your head and manipulate you. Will Clarice’s mental psyche survive Lecter’s tactics long enough to find the whereabouts of Buffalo Bill, who has just recently taken another victim, with powerful connections, or will she be another in a long list of Lecter’s victims? 

I will admit that having seen the movie multiple times (expect a review, as I will be watching it again shortly), the book does lose some of it’s charm. You know what’s coming and it does take away from the mystery and tension. That is in no way a fault of the book, obviously, but even with that, I can still tell you that I was on the edge of my seat throughout the book.

It did have a few hurdles at first, with me taking some time adjusting to Thomas Harris’ change in writing. This time around, we are constantly in the head of Clarice Starling and it took me some time to get Jodie Foster out of my head, as I feel the character’s a little different. Here, Clarice is quite the gal, with a foul mouth and a quirky personality. It wasn’t long however before I started to warm up to her character and really feel for the troubles she was being put into. Having to juggle Hannibal Lecter, Jack Crawford and her schooling, with the ever present risk of getting recycled (basically kicked down the ladder, having to wait to get back in), she is one girl who is tough as nails and takes no bullshit.

I’m still going to stick with my guns and say that Thomas Harris changed Hannibal Lecter from his last book, Red Dragon. Hannibal is more sophisticated and learned. He isn’t as on the nose and is presented as being the Lecter we’ve all come to love: brilliant and scary. I understand the change, as Lecter was hardly in the last book and in The Silence of the Lambs, he takes a front row seat to the mayhem and is such a manipulative son of a bitch and so damn cleaver. Harris did a great job building his character and I have to say, I can’t wait to continue his story in Hannibal (which I’ve already started reading!).

As for the killer, Buffalo Bill, we once again get into the killer’s head early on and learn who he is and what makes him tick. Unlike, Red Dragon, we don’t spend as much time with him, which is a shame, as I would’ve liked to know a little more about the man who loves to “tuck”. He kinda takes a backseat to Clarice and Lecter, which is fine, as their relationship is so fascinating, but still, it would’ve been nice to learn a little more about Buffalo Bill, instead of the quick little history we get near the end. He’s one creepy bastard and I just want to know more.

The Silence of the Lambs ranks just as highly as Red Dragon in my book, continuing the universe Harris created and moving everything along at a break neck and thrilling pace. It does take a bit to get going at first, but once that small problem gets out of the way, you’ll be spending hours reading chapter after chapter, all the way to the thrilling end. Try to forget the movie if you haven’t read it yet and just enjoy it for what it is, a brilliant, fascinating read.

Rating: 4.5/5 (-0.5 for small hurdles at first, +4.5 for just being so damn good.)

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