Red Dragon, p.1Part #1 of Hannibal Lecter series by Thomas Harris
Table of Contents
“The best popular novel to be published
in America since The Godfather.”
“A chilling, tautly written, and well-realized psychological thriller.”—Saturday Review
“Irresistible . . . A shattering thriller . . . Readers should buckle themselves in for a long night’s read because from the first pages . . . Harris grabs hold.”
“The scariest book of the season.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Easily the crime novel of the year.”—Newsday
“Red Dragon is an engine designed for one purpose—to make the pulse pound, the heart palpitate, the fear glands secrete.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A gruesome, graphic, gripping thriller . . . extraordinarily harrowing.—The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Warning! If you’re subject to nightmares, don’t read it!”—Colorado Springs Sun
“Want to faint with fright? Want to have your hair stand on end? Want to read an unforgettable thriller with equal parts of horror and suspense?”
—New York Daily News
Titles by Thomas Harris
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
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One can only see what one observes,
and one observes only things
which are already in the mind.
... For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
—WILLIAM BLAKE, Songs of Innocence
(The Divine Image)
Cruelty has a Human Heart,
and Jealousy a Human Face,
Terror the Human Form Divine,
and Secrecy the Human Dress.
The Human Dress is forged Iron,
The Human Form a fiery Forge,
The Human Face a Furnace seal’d,
The Human Heart its hungry Gorge.
—WILLIAM BLAKE, Songs of Experience
(A Divine Image)1
FOREWORD TO A FATAL INTERVIEW
I want to tell you the circumstances in which I first encountered Hannibal Lecter, M.D.
In the fall of 1979, owing to an illness in my family, I returned home to the Mississippi Delta and remained there eighteen months. I was working on Red Dragon. My neighbor in the village of Rich kindly gave me the use of a shotgun house in the center of a vast cotton field, and there I worked, often at night.
To write a novel, you begin with what you can see and then you add what came before and what came after. Here in the village of Rich, Mississippi, working under difficult circumstances, I could see the investigator Will Graham in the home of the victim family, in the house where they all died, watching the dead family’s home movies. I did not know at the time who was committing the crimes. I pushed to find out, to see what came before and what came after. I went through the home, the crime scene, in the dark with Will and could see no more and no less than he could see.
Sometimes at night I would leave the lights on in my little house and walk across the flat fields. When I looked back from a distance, the house looked like a boat at sea, and all around me the vast Delta night.
I soon became acquainted with the semi-feral dogs who roamed free across the fields in what was more or less a pack. Some of them had casual arrangements with the families of farm workers, but much of the time they had to forage for themselves. In the hard winter months with the ground frozen and dry, I started giving them dog food and soon they were going through fifty pounds of dog food a week. They followed me around, and they were a lot o
Standing baffled in the vast fields outside my cabin in the heart of the night, the sound of breathing all around me, my vision still clouded with the desk lamp, I tried to see what had happened at the crime scene. All that came to my dim sight were loomings, intimations, the occasional glow when a retina not human reflected the moon. There was no question that something had happened. You must understand that when you are writing a novel you are not making anything up. It’s all there and you just have to find it.
Will Graham had to ask somebody, he needed some help and he knew it. He knew where he had to go, long before he let himself think about it. I knew Graham had been severely damaged in a previous case. I knew he was terribly reluctant to consult the best source he had. At the time, I myself was accruing painful memories every day, and in my evening’s work I felt for Graham.
So it was with some trepidation that I accompanied him to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, and there, maddeningly, before we could get down to business, we encountered the kind of fool you know from conducting your own daily business, Dr. Frederick Chilton, who delayed us for two or three interminable days.
I found that I could leave Chilton in the cabin with the lights on and look back at him from the dark, surrounded by my friends the dogs. I was invisible then, out there in the dark, the way I am invisible to my characters when I’m in a room with them and they are deciding their fates with little or no help from me.
Finished with the tedious Chilton at last, Graham and I went on to the Violent Ward and the steel door slammed shut behind us with a terrific noise.
Will Graham and I, approaching Dr. Lecter’s cell. Graham was tense and I could smell fear on him. I thought Dr. Lecter was asleep and I jumped when he recognized Will Graham by scent without opening his eyes.
I was enjoying my usual immunity while working, my invisibility to Chilton and Graham and the staff, but I was not comfortable in the presence of Dr. Lecter, not sure at all that the doctor could not see me.
Like Graham, I found, and find, the scrutiny of Dr. Lecter uncomfortable, intrusive, like the humming in your thoughts when they X-ray your head. Graham’s interview with Dr. Lecter went quickly, in real time at the speed of swordplay, me following it, my frantic notes spilling into the margin and over whatever surface was uppermost on my table. I was worn out when it was over—the incidental clashes and howls of an asylum rang on in my head, and on the front porch of my cabin in Rich thirteen dogs were singing, seated with their eyes closed, faces upturned to the full moon. Most of them crooned their single vowel between O and U, a few just hummed along.
I had to revisit Graham’s interview with Dr. Lecter a hundred times to understand it and to get rid of the superfluous static, the jail noises, the screaming of the damned that had made some of the words hard to hear.
I still didn’t know who was committing the crimes, but I knew for the first time that we would find out, and that we would arrive at him. I also knew the knowledge would be terribly, perhaps tragically, expensive to others in the book. And so it turned out.
Years later when I started The Silence of the Lambs, I did not know that Dr. Lecter would return. I had always liked the character of Dahlia Iyad in Black Sunday and wanted to do a novel with a strong woman as the central character. So I began with Clarice Starling and, not two pages into the new novel, I found she had to go visit the doctor. I admired Clarice Starling enormously and I think I suffered some feelings of jealousy at the ease with which Dr. Lecter saw into her, when it was so difficult for me.
By the time I undertook to record the events in Hannibal , the doctor, to my surprise, had taken on a life of his own. You seemed to find him as oddly engaging as I did.
I dreaded doing Hannibal, dreaded the personal wear and tear, dreaded the choices I would have to watch, feared for Starling. In the end I let them go, as you must let characters go, let Dr. Lecter and Clarice Starling decide events according to their natures. There is a certain amount of courtesy involved.
As a sultan once said: I do not keep falcons—they live with me.
When in the winter of 1979 I entered the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and the great metal door crashed closed behind me, little did I know what waited at the end of the corridor; how seldom we recognize the sound when the bolt of our fate slides home.
T.H. Miami, January 2000
Will Graham sat Crawford down at a picnic table between the house and the ocean and gave him a glass of iced tea.
Jack Crawford looked at the pleasant old house, salt-silvered wood in the clear light. “I should have caught you in Marathon when you got off work,” he said. “You don’t want to talk about it here.”
“I don’t want to talk about it anywhere, Jack. You’ve got to talk about it, so let’s have it. Just don’t get out any pictures. If you brought pictures, leave them in the briefcase—Molly and Willy will be back soon.”
“How much do you know?”
“What was in the Miami Herald and the Times,” Graham said. “Two families killed in their houses a month apart. Birmingham and Atlanta. The circumstances were similar.”
“Not similar. The same.”
“How many confessions so far?”
“Eighty-six when I called in this afternoon,” Crawford said. “Cranks. None of them knew details. He smashes the mirrors and uses the pieces. None of them knew that.”
“What else did you keep out of the papers?”
“He’s blond, right-handed and really strong, wears a size-eleven shoe. He can tie a bowline. The prints are all smooth gloves.”
“You said that in public.”
“He’s not too comfortable with locks,” Crawford said. “Used a glass cutter and a suction cup to get in the house last time. Oh, and his blood’s AB positive.”
“Somebody hurt him?”
“Not that we know of. We typed him from semen and saliva. He’s a secretor.” Crawford looked out at the flat sea. “Will, I want to ask you something. You saw this in the papers. The second one was all over the TV. Did you ever think about giving me a call?”
“There weren’t many details at first on the one in Birmingham. It could have been anything—revenge, a relative.”
“But after the second one, you knew what it was.”
“Yeah. A psychopath. I didn’t call you because I didn’t want to. I know who you have already to work on this. You’ve got the best lab. You’d have Heimlich at Harvard, Bloom at the University of Chicago—”
“And I’ve got you down here fixing fucking boat motors.”
“I don’t think I’d be all that useful to you, Jack. I never think about it anymore.”
“Really? You caught two. The last two we had, you caught.”
“How? By doing the same things you and the rest of them are doing.”
“That’s not entirely true, Will. It’s the way you think.”
“I think there’s been a lot of bullshit about the way I think.”
“You made some jumps you never explained.”
“The evidence was there,” Graham said.
“Sure. Sure there was. Plenty of it—afterward. Before the collar there was so damn little we couldn’t get probable cause to go in.”
“You have the people you need, Jack. I don’t think I’d be an improvement. I came down here to get away from that.”
“I know it. You got hurt last time. Now you look all right.”
“I’m all right. It’s not getting cut. You’ve been cut.”
“I’ve been cut, but not like that.”
“It’s not getting cut.
“If you couldn’t look at it anymore, God knows I’d understand that.”
“No. You know—having to look. It’s always bad, but you get so you can function anyway, as long as they’re dead. The hospital, interviews, that’s worse. You have to shake it off and keep on thinking. I don’t believe I could do it now. I could make myself look, but I’d shut down the thinking.”
“These are all dead, Will,” Crawford said as kindly as he could.
Jack Crawford heard the rhythm and syntax of his own speech in Graham’s voice. He had heard Graham do that before, with other people. Often in intense conversation Graham took on the other person’s speech patterns. At first, Crawford had thought he was doing it deliberately, that it was a gimmick to get the back-and-forth rhythm going.
Later Crawford realized that Graham did it involuntarily, that sometimes he tried to stop and couldn’t.
Crawford dipped into his jacket pocket with two fingers. He flipped two photographs across the table, face up.
“All dead,” he said.
Graham stared at him a moment before picking up the pictures.
They were only snapshots: A woman, followed by three children and a duck, carried picnic items up the bank of a pond. A family stood behind a cake.
After half a minute he put the photographs down again. He pushed them into a stack with his finger and looked far down the beach where the boy hunkered, examining something in the sand. The woman stood watching, hand on her hip, spent waves creaming around her ankles. She leaned inland to swing her wet hair off her shoulders.
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris / Horror / Thrillers & Crime / Mystery & Detective have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes