Cari Mora by Thomas Harris
Thomas Harris “has not lost his touch for evil on a grand scale”, said Marcel Berlins in The Times. In his “tantalising and engaging” new novel, his first for 13 years, the thriller writer abandons Hannibal Lecter (the subject of all his books since 1981’s Red Dragon) and introduces readers to a new “psychopathic ultra-villain”. Hans-Peter Schneider is a German-speaking Paraguayan whose habits include “selling the body parts of women he has killed” and reducing victims to pulp with a liquid cremation machine. Schneider is intent on getting his hands on a $25m stash of gold secreted beneath a Miami mansion. Standing in his way is the villa’s caretaker, Caridad “Cari” Mora, a former Farc child-soldier who is caring and “sensitive”, but also “adept at handling guns”.
Cari may be a “distinctive heroine”, but Clarice Starling “she isn’t”, said Barry Forshaw in the FT. Generally, Harris eschews “complex character-building” in favour of an all-action approach. The resulting novel has its moments, but leaves you with a sense of an author “conserving his energy”.