‘The Silence of the Lambs’ by Thomas Harris - A Book Review

Updated: Jan 27

“She heard her own breathing, and breathing down the hall, but from Migg’s empty cell, no breathing. Migg’s cell was vastly empty.”

Disquiet coupled romantically with silence. An auspicious, psychological drama that leads readers to question their own mental stability. Thomas Harris is well acknowledged for his twisted narratives, so, what makes ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ an international bestseller? Harris seamlessly seeps in cognitive dissonance affirming the eerie concept that you don’t have to be a classified psychopath to have your own personal darkness.

There's no doubt that Hannibal Lecter controls the narrative despite being behind bars. But who is he? Despite being a ‘psychopath locked up for unspeakable crimes’, Lecter has a certain mystery about him that permits the reader to almost, just almost, see themselves through him. The avuncular Dr Lecter allows a certain amenity between him and Clarice Starling: more so than any other agent. His natural intuition plays a dominant role in his subtle manipulation, which he embeds to allow the naive Clarice to slowly give up a bit of her vulnerability in order to connect on a more thorough level. Lecter is fully aware of his inner genius desperately clasping onto the fact that he has the upper hand; feeding off the fact that the FBI team need his assistance on a new serial killer who's on the loose. It is this cockiness that leads to him becoming a victim of manipulation himself.

The catalyst for the whole plot is down to the protagonist Clarice Starling, a developing FBI agent who consults Dr Lecter for a criminal investigation. Her interaction with Dr Lecter enables the reader to comprehend the mindset of a criminal mastermind through eyes that somewhat empathise with him. Despite this, Starling fears the man safely locked up behind bars more so than the remorseless serial killer roaming the streets. As Dr Lecter picks at her mind she comes to understand that she and Dr Lecter aren’t that different after all...

Through this mutual understanding between the two, Starling is able to work alongside Crawford, hinting at a sexual tension on their shared endeavour. Starling, cloaked in persistent attire, is determined to single handedly apprehend the serial killer: defending a semblance of honour of the females who lost their lives at an alarming price.

Will the lambs stop screaming? Find out in this abstract thriller intricately devised by Thomas Harris. (Or if you’re feeling really lazy, watch the film! It does the job).

By Samirah Bangura, Joint Editor-in-Chief for ‘Tottenham’s Our Canvas’, the arts sub-magazine of ‘The Tottenham Phoenix’

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