The Silence of the Lambs

By Thomas Harris,

Book cover of The Silence of the Lambs

Book description

As part of the search for a serial murderer nicknames "Buffalo Bill," FBI trainee Clarice Starling is given an assignment. She must visit a man confined to a high-security facility for the criminally insane and interview him.

That man, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, is a former psychiatrist with unusual tastes and…

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Why read it?

9 authors picked The Silence of the Lambs as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Hannibal Lector? Need I say more? But, okay, I guess I will. This was the first serial killer book I ever read, and I read it having already watched the movie way back in the day, so it visually popped with every word. The investigative FBI and police procedural material were top-notch. This version of using one serial killer to find another will never be topped. I’m also a big fan of never being in the killer’s head and finding out who it is right along with Clarice Starling.

The Silence of the Lambs is a fantastic, and unique story about an FBI agent, Clarice Starling, trying to get one imprisoned serial killer (Hannibal Lecter) to help catch another, nicknamed Buffalo Bill. If she is successful, she will save the next victim who has already been abducted. We get to see inside the minds of two mass murderers and see their motivations, plus a first-rate exciting read.

Everyone knows this one, and I could be accused of making an obvious choice. Nevertheless, there’s no denying its influence and I make no apologies for absolutely loving it. The story is pretty much definitive and the Granddaddy of all serial killer thrillers. Even after all these years, the characters of Clarice Starling, Hannibal Lecter, and Buffalo Bill still pack a punch.   

As a young author this book taught me how powerful a series of smaller twists can be. Everyone talks about one big twist at the end, but this book shows how powerful it can be as a reader to have the rug pulled from under your feet in a hundred different ways throughout the story. It’s also an incredibly tense and well-written psychological thriller, and I love the fact that a lot of the characters are based on real-life individuals – from the serial killers to the FBI agents.

From Angelo's list on crime with killer twists.

Everyone knows Clarice Starling from Jodie Foster’s incredible performance in the film adaptation of the book. But the student FBI agent from the novel is just as vulnerable, courageous, and tenacious as her film portrayal. The soaring intellect of the serial killer Hannibal Lecter meets its match in Starling’s equally incredible brain, and she demonstrates something he will always lack – empathy and compassion.

From Celina's list on kickass female detectives.

No list of fictional serial killers would be complete without Hannibal Lecter. Original and unsurpassed, his intelligent observations and creepy predilections create an irresistible cocktail for the reader. Combine him with the innocent, naive FBI trainee Clarice Starling, enough twists and turns to give you whiplash, and you have a serial killer thriller for all generations. 

From Sam's list on fictional serial killers.

FBI Agent-in-training Clarice Starling is pulled into a manhunt to find a serial killer, known only as Buffalo Bill. Her best chance of finding the killer is to consult Hannibal Lecter, who is a former psychiatrist serving multiple life sentences for a series of murders.

While the main protagonist is superbly brought to life in the form of an ambitious Starling, it is Hannibal Lecter who breaks all convention as Clarice’s ‘partner’ in this tense crime thriller. He is calm, precise, clever, and, at times, unnerving, which makes this a compelling classic.

In my opinion, this is not only Thomas Harris’ best book in his Hannibal Lecter series, but his best book overall. Though made famous in the mainstream by the film adaptation, the book is a wonderful example of psychological horror, with a gripping, fast-moving story told in short chapters that make it almost impossible to put down.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter first intrigued me in the book Silence of the Lambs, and later seduced a multitude when the movie version came out. He is the quintessential antihero because of his placement in the narrative as an indomitable force of evil and cunning that in this instance could accomplish something very good. He embodies the question about the ends justifying the means and has no problem benefiting from the FBI’s philosophical quandary that in itself should alert the heroes to the problem one faces when dealing with the Devil. The narrative is so entwined with Lecter that the…

From G. Wells' list on starring antiheroes you love to hate.

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