Review: Red Dragon (Thomas Harris)

My rating: 7/10.

This is the book that introduced the cannibalistic Dr. Hannibal Lecter to the world -- although it's only a brief glimpse of the famous psychopath here. The book mainly focuses on another psychopath and an FBI agent who's pursuing him...

This is my first Thomas Harris book, but I've really wanted to read the Hannibal Lecter tetralogy after I came across this Hannibal Lecter article on Wikipedia. So I decided to pick up the first book in the series from the library.

A few weeks ago, I read Pet Sematary, my first Stephen King book. And what I felt about that book probably applies to this one as well. I wouldn't rate either of the books as outstanding, but they certainly left me wanting to read more of these two authors. Red Dragon is the kind of book that keeps surprising you right through to the last page, as it examines the mind of the psychopathic serial killer Francis Dolarhyde and the (psychic?) FBI agent Will Graham who's hunting him. I didn't at all like the beginning of the book. I read the first two or three chapters without having a clue what was going on. But I have to admit that after getting used to the book's style, it was difficult it put it down until I finished reading it.

The book is good, and at times you almost feel sorry for the serial killer, especially when Harris describes Dolarhyde's childhood and the circumstances that turned him into a psychopath. At the same time I was disappointed that except for a brief glimpse, there is very little about "Hannibal the cannibal", and Hannibal's the character I wanted to read about. Anyway, there are three more books left in the series. Now I can't wait to read Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal.

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Review: The Brethren (John Grisham)

This is probably the first time that a John Grisham novel has failed to impress me. It's not actually a bad story, but it's not really as good as the rest of the Grisham novels I've read.

The plot of this book -- at least to me -- feels quite unrealistic. Three judges in a minimum security prison convicted of various offenses doling out justice within the prison?! And at the same time running a mail scam without being caught? The CIA selecting a man to run for President and then flooding him with campaign funds? And the Director of CIA himself working on the election ads!? You'd think the CIA had nothing better to do!

Grisham drags you through nearly a third of the book with two seemingly unrelated plots before you start seeing the connection. Then he ups the pace a little bit, but still I found this a very, very average book.

The book is different from the normal John Grisham books -- there's very little of legal jargon here, none of the courtroom battles or the "lawyer-hero fighting against all odds to save his innocent client" type stuff. This is my seventh Grisham book and I think this is the farthest he has ever ventured from his legal thrillers, and maybe he deserves a pat on the back for trying to explore a different genre. But give me the choice and I'll pick the courtroom drama any day.

My rating : 5/10.