I think this is the final Hannibal Lecter book. Or at least the final book that moves the story forward. I know there is a prequel book that doesn’t remotely seem interesting. The strength of Red Dragon is that so much has clearly happened before we get there that we’re playing catch-up the whole time. The same thing happens with Silence of the Lambs as well, since for most people, this was their entry point to the character.
The real issue with this book is that Hannibal Lecter is always better when he’s a side-player to someone else’s murder. Because he’s the baddie in this book, and so much attention is paid to what he’s doing and where he is, it’s almost boring to watch. The other issue of course is that thriller writers, especially Southern American ones, just can’t help themselves in portraying Black criminals. I won’t too much into that because if you’ve seen the movie you already know about it.
Hannibal cannot be the main baddie because his job is to play off others. So what we get here is a much bloodier version of Tom Ripley, but who doesn’t kill just for expedience. It’s nice to have more of Clarice, and making the inspector general her real nemesis and not just Hannibal is solid the book just isn’t ever very smart.
Mason Verger is also only somewhat compelling, but I appreciate that he’s also terrible.