Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Six terrifying villain-doctors in fiction

Caroline Louise Walker grew up in Rock Island, Illinois. For her fiction and nonfiction, she has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The Kerouac Project, Jentel Arts and Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences. She holds an MA from NYU.

Man of the Year is Walker's first novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged six medical men with terrible designs, including:
HANNIBAL LECTER from Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris

Hannibal the Cannibal is skilled at many things—for example, infiltrating our nightmares. He is a legend on the page and in pop culture, thanks to Harris’s brilliant choice to balance depravity against refined taste and class. Lecter speaks beautifully, lives beautifully, and yes, eats his victims’ remains. But his threat to his victims’ minds is the first point of vulnerability—and the piece that keeps us up at night, shuddering at the thought of fava beans.

Lecter is a psychiatrist, not a surgeon, but the prospect of having one’s thoughts penetrated by this character is sufficiently disturbing. We can imagine ourselves trusting him, in his civilized life, in his office, in our naïveté. We do it all the time.

And yet, there is no rest for the weary. Even in a maximum security prison, Lecter is asked to keep his criminal mind sharp, rather than taking a break.
Read about another entry on the list.

Red Dragon appears on Peter Swanson's list of ten thrillers that explore mental health, John Verdon's list of the ten best whodunits, Laura McHugh's list of ten favorite books about serial killers, Kimberly Turner's list of the ten most disturbing sociopaths in literature, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best dragons in literature and ten of the best tattoos in literature, and the (U.K.) Telegraph 110 best books; Andre Gross says "it should be taught as [a text] in Thriller 101."

The Silence of The Lambs is among Kathy Reichs's six best books, Matt Suddain's five great meals from literature, Elizabeth Heiter's ten favorite serial killer novels, Jill Boyd's five books with the worst fictional characters to invite to Thanksgiving, Monique Alice's six great fictional evil geniuses, sixteen book-to-movie adaptations that won Academy Awards.

--Marshal Zeringue