The Silence of the Lambs

by Thomas Lecter


I began to read this book expecting a decent representation of insanity, and I finished it because it was a half-decent thriller.

The misogyny runs deep: nearly every interaction Starling has with her male compatriots is tinged with either sexual undertones, patronizing, or unearned arrogance. Ironically, the two who treat her the best are Lecter and Crawford, and Lecter isn’t exactly the paragon of morality.

It is interesting that Buffalo Bill is described as someone who desires to be a ‘transsexual’ yet isn’t. This book would never have been written today, as a doctor denying someone their gender identity seems to be anathema in modern culture. Yet, the author goes to great pains to separate the criminality of the killer from the supposed criminality of transgender individuals through the mouth of the doctors at JHU. Moreover, this book’s relationship to sexuality is quite strange.

Crawford is shown as a shadow of his former self (his implied former self, I haven’t read the first book). Bella dies near the climax, and as a result he is recused from Buffalo Bill’s final arrest. He barely has any interaction with Lecter, which is a shame (the two would have great chemistry, as I suspect they do in the rest of the series). Starling’s obsession with Crawford is framed as some combination of a crush and desire for a father-figure, which gets somewhat culled by the end.

I expected Lecter to be the best part of the novel, and he certainly was. A deus ex machina in the flesh that has just enough of a veneer of justification to be considered a character. If you ignore his “intelligent feats”, his relationship with Starling is truly absurd.

“Clarice, recreational flayings are always conducted with the victim inverted, so that blood pressure is maintained longer in the head and chest and the subject remains conscious. Didn’t you know that?”


Perhaps the best embodiment of the trope of the “rational psychopath”: certainly entertaining, but not that interesting (not like Raskolnikov).

May read the rest in the series. Not necessarily high quality, but one of the better thrillers.