Review by Robb Hoff
It’s been a minute (13 years worth, in fact) since Thomas Harris dished out his disturbing literary cuisine. His long-awaited return– the heroine-titled Cari Mora– may not have the insistent mouthfeel of what Harris readers expect from the likes of The Silence of the Lambs, but it will prove a flavorful treat nonetheless.
Cari Mora does feature some of the more disturbing tang that made Harris famous. However, his character creation of the alluring Cari Mora is the real feast this time around.
Cari Mora knows her way around the kitchen and the organized crime jungle. She not only recognizes a garbage disposal when she sees one, but could wire one to detonate diced green shrapnel (if she wanted) through her explosives training as a captive juvenile solider in the Colombian FARC.
But Cari Mora is a badass femme fatale with Temporary Protected Status and a heart of gold. Her self-determination for survival and her affection for injured and rehabilitating wild animals (especially birds) set her on a more sublime path within the Miami Beach crime syndicate setting of the novel.
So sublime is Cari Mora that the portrait of her by Harris morphs into something more beatific. My fascination with this character transformation kept me turning pages to find out whether Cari Mora would be martyred by the deranged criminal forces surrounding her or exalted in all of her glory.
My favorite novel of the Thomas Harris Hannibal Lecter series is Red Dragon, in no small part because of how the artwork and metaphysic of transformation by William Blake is woven throughout the work. That artwork theme is revived by Harris in Cari Mora, both as a literal key to unlocking the story and a figurative one to liberate the Cari Mora character . The Our Lady of Charity painting by Luis Pardini enhances the book from the beginning with its depiction, which increases in significance with each page.
As a novelist who spun Salvador Dali artwork, performance, concepts, and techniques into Cosmic Egg Rapture, I admire how Harris put art into motion in his Cari Mora.
As a novelist further influenced by Harris at his anthropophagous best in my own Contract With The Lycanthrope, I was glad to see at least some of the vestige of the old Harris still there to get under the skin, so to speak.
Now, I look forward to the next book from Harris, if he does indeed let his words fly again….AVE!