This is the first book in the Hannibal Lecter series. If you’ve seen the tv show Hannibal, then this is where they were headed before the show was cancelled. So we more or less begin in medias res with Will Graham, criminal profiler (I will use this as a shortcut), no longer works with the FBI because in his capture of Hannibal Lecter, which predates the novel, and now he’s married and living far away from DC. He has a sense that he’s going to be contacted soon to help with what they’re calling “The Tooth Fairy”, a series of murder in which the victims are often bitten as part of everything. Two families have been murdered in a fairly ritualistic way. And he’s right, because early in Jack Crawford shows up and convinces Will to become a consultant.
As he begins, we know as readers that he’s going to have to consult with Hannibal Lecter at some point, especially once it becomes clear that Hannibal has involved himself in the case in his own way. We also learn a lot about the killer, a film production worker who has become obsessed with William Blake’s apocalyptic visions and has convinced himself that he is the coming “Red Dragon” that Blake prophesied.
All this coincides with otherwise standard and well-plotted thriller/mystery .
This is a weird novel in the sense that two movies have been made from it, plus the beginnings of a run on a tv show. The first movie is a pretty good movie, but not a great adaptation, and the second is a solid adaptation, but not a very good movie. Funny that.