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Hannibal by Thomas Harris

Hannibal (1999)

by Thomas Harris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Hannibal Lecter Series (3)

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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
More enjoyable than I expected it to be. Though those last couple of chapters ... ( )
  majesdane | Aug 8, 2017 |
An engrossing book.
However, there are too many revolting and gory details that undermine the basic plot and the ending is just unacceptable. ( )
  Lauren2013 | Nov 19, 2016 |
Okay, let me confess up front: I loved Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs. Loved them. I enjoyed the movies, too: the movie version of Silence of the Lambs scared the pee out of me, and even so, I didn’t want it to end. So, long years later when I finally got hold of a copy of Hannibal, I really, really, wanted to love it, too.

But I didn’t.

Well, that’s not entirely true. If I pretend that this wasn’t a sequel about characters I already know, then I can find some bright spots. The book has some fantastic descriptions of Italy. There are certainly some creepy scenes that gave me the shivers. I was fascinated by the concept of the memory cathedral. And I felt terribly bad for poor Clarice as her world crumbled in around her. The problem is, none of the characters seem remotely connected to the folks we met before.

Hannibal Lecter, an enigma in previous installments, now has a background. It’s tragic and horrifying, but is it enough to form the Hannibal we all know? Maybe. But even if it is, do we really have to know the details of why Lecter is who he is? I’m not convinced that this information makes him a more compelling character.

Clarice Starling, whose wagon was hitched to a rising star at the end of Silence, is on the verge of being pushed out of the FBI. She has been overlooked again and again for promotion and is reduced to being scapegoated by talentless superiors.

Jack Crawford, a hero and mentor in the previous books, is now (for the short time he appears here) a liability.

I understand that people change, but come on. So what happened? What changed between the publication of The Silence of the Lambs and the publication of Hannibal? Well, what changed was the character of Hannibal Lecter. In both Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal was a minor (though quite compelling) character. Harris went to great pains to point out that, although clever and extremely cunning, Lecter was not omniscient. There was always an explanation as to how he knew the things he did, and Crawford was equally clever at figuring it out. Enter Jonathan Demme.

When Jonathan Demme made the movie version of Silence, he said that he wanted the audience to believe that Lecter was the smartest man alive. It didn’t matter how he knew the things he did—he just knew. And to the credit of both Demme and Anthony Hopkins, it worked. The movie firmly established Lecter’s genius, and in the context of the film, it was brilliant: you never have to explain how Lecter gets his information, and his outrageous escape becomes plausible. Besides, the smarter Lecter is the more the audience worries about Clarice. Hopkins’ performance firmly established a picture in our minds of who Lecter was and how he worked.

Enter Thomas Harris, trying to write a sequel to a phenomenally popular book, which was also a hugely successful movie. Now everyone thought of Anthony Hopkins when they thought of Hannibal Lecter, and they believed he was the smartest psycho alive. Instead of writing about his own Hannibal, he tried to write about the Demme/Hopkins Hannibal, and that just didn’t leave him anyplace to go but over the top, which is a crying shame. The book collapses under the sheer magnitude of what we are expected to accept about these characters and where they end up.
( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
Losing a bit of steam for me. ( )
  kale.dyer | Jul 4, 2016 |
**Note - After my re-read on 3/24/15, have bumped from four to five stars and edited review a little. *

I read the four books in order of sequence, not publication, ending with Hannibal. I'm not sure if it was following them in order or my mood, but I was more enamored this time around. It's turned out to be my favorite in the series. I know this isn't the popular opinion, but I think Harris did a brilliant job wrapping up the series.

The plot is as diabolical as Silence of the Lambs was, this time concentrating more on Clarice and Hannibal’s “relationship.” Hannibal Lecter is explored a lot more through internal dialogue; I learned a about his though process (disturbing as it was). I sat back in awe at his life experiences, his true motivations, and the odd little ‘room in his mind.’ The person inside of me interested in psychology found his detachment methods fascinating. His motivations, while not morally just, were made clearer by seeing it through his point of view. While I’d never agree with his actions, it was still better than being left in the dark. As always, I loved being in Clarices’ head. She’s morally righteous, determined, hard working, loyal and honest;­ the change she went through nearly stopped my breath.

As mentioned before with the story, I DID lose interest after the beginning to a little after the center. The pacing was even during that time, but the material just didn’t keep my eyes wandering. I'm referring to that stint in Italy, which dulled a little and I wish Harris had spent a little less time in that section.

Harris’s style, particularly when focusing on Lecter and Sterling, was intense and clever. His wording was sophisticated and drama-filled, sounding disturbing when it should have been. His use of dialogue was realistic, his action scenes well sketched so that the most damage that could be done to my nerves was. His sense of irony with plot really sang through.

The ending of Hannibal is one of the most powerful I’ve ever read. I literally sat back and had to think for over an hour afterward…seriously. Not many books shake me up like that at the end; the last was a few years back by Sidney Sheldon. The novel wrap up was different than it’s cinema relative; don’t go in expected the same thing you see on screen, because it WONT HAPPEN.

I wasn’t sure what emotion was appropriate when I read the finale. Mainly I was disturbed, as well as saddened, but in a strange, strange, strange, place deep inside, I was also pleased. (!) I don’t know what this says about ME, but the bottom line is Harris did his job so well with the last scenes, he almost did it a little ‘too’ well.

It ties into the becoming, that bizarre act of transformation focused on by Jame Gumb, made famous in the series most famous work, Silence of the Lamb. To wrap up the series on that note is genius in its circular resolution. What Clarice revealed about herself, the price she paid as she sought to stop a madman from transforming an innocent woman into his vision of himself is now transferred to the second madman, the one who helped her stop the first.

I couldn’t decide whether I should give it a four or a five rating; because of the middle lagging, I was going to settle on a four, but because of the powerful influence the ending had (it’s hard to impress me on THAT level), I just have to give it a five. It more than made up for its faults.

Read Hannibal and experience the trauma for yourself. This novel doesn’t hesitate to psychologically assault its reader. ( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Harrisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Grimaldi, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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You would think that such a day would tremble to begin...
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Clarice Starling's Mustang boomed up the entrance ramp at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on Massachusetts Avenue, a headquarters rented from the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in the interest of economy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 038529929X, Hardcover)

Horror lit's head chef Harris serves up another course in his Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter trilogy, and it's a pièce de résistance for those with strong stomachs. In the first book, Red Dragon (filmed as Manhunter), Hannibal diabolically helps the FBI track a fascinating serial killer. (Takes one to know one.) In The Silence of the Lambs, he advises fledgling FBI manhunter Clarice Starling, then makes a bloody, brilliant escape.

Years later, posing as scholarly Dr. Fell, curator of a grand family's palazzo, Hannibal lives the good life in Florence, playing lovely tunes by serial killer/composer Henry VIII and killing hardly anyone himself. Clarice is unluckier: in the novel's action-film-like opening scene, she survives an FBI shootout gone wrong, and her nemesis, Paul Krendler, makes her the fall guy. Clarice is suspended, so, unfortunately, the first cop who stumbles on Hannibal is an Italian named Pazzi, who takes after his ancestors, greedy betrayers depicted in Dante's Inferno.

Pazzi is on the take from a character as scary as Hannibal: Mason Verger. When Verger was a young man busted for raping children, his vast wealth saved him from jail. All he needed was psychotherapy--with Dr. Lecter. Thanks to the treatment, Verger is now on a respirator, paralyzed except for one crablike hand, watching his enormous, brutal moray eel swim figure eights and devour fish. His obsession is to feed Lecter to some other brutal pets.

What happens when the Italian cop gets alone with Hannibal? How does Clarice's reunion with Lecter go from macabre to worse? Suffice it to say that the plot is Harris's weirdest, but it still has his signature mastery of realistic detail. There are flaws: Hannibal's madness gets a motive, which is creepy but lessens his mystery. If you want an exact duplicate of The Silence of the Lambs's Clarice/Hannibal duel, you'll miss what's cool about this book--that Hannibal is actually upstaged at points by other monsters. And if you think it's all unprecedentedly horrible, you're right. But note that the horrors are described with exquisite taste. Harris's secret recipe for success is restraint. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:50 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A showdown between two psychopathic killers with a beautiful FBI agent caught in the middle. From his respirator, Mason Verger orders the capture of Hannibal Lecter, the man who put him there, and the bait is Clarice Starling with whom Lecter crossed swords in The Silence of the Lambs.… (more)

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