Hannibal Paperback – Jul 19 2005
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
This narrative roils along a herky-jerky vector but remains always mesmerizing, as Harris's prose and insights, particularly his reveries about Hannibal, boast power and an overripe beauty. If at times the suspense slackens and the story slips into silliness, it becomes clear that this is a post-suspense novel, as much sardonic philosophical jest as grand-guignol thriller. Hannibal, we learnA"we" because Harris seduces reader complicity with third-person-plural narrationAis not as we presumed. The monster's aim is not chaos, but order. Through his devotion to manners and the connoisseur's life, in fact to form itself, he hopesAconsciouslyAto reverse entropy and thus the flow of time, to allow a dead sister to live again. He is not Dionysius but Apollo, and it is the barbarians who oppose him who are to be despised. Hannibal may be mad, but in this brilliant, bizarre, absurd novelAas in the public eyeAhe is also hero; and so, at novel's end, in blackest humor, Harris bestows upon him a hero's rewards, outrageously, mockingly. Agent, Morton Janklow. 1.3 million first printing; film rights to Dino De Laurentis. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Nonetheless, this book is a masterpiece. There is no other word to describe it.
Harris is a master. This is a wonderful gesture from Harris, giving the finger to all who fans who expected something rather like a carbon copy of SoTL, or even something vaguely similar. Harris here tells us that his novels will be dictated by what he wants to write, not what the public wants him to write.
Harris comes up with a wonderfully gothic plot, and the way he writes is beautiful. The prose sings with intelligence and poetical value.
Harris has created some great characters here. He builds on Barney, who we met in the last book, he delves deeper into Clarice's psyche, and explores Hannibal in a way that is vivid and realistic. Not to mention Mason Verger, who does superly as the disfigured and vengeful villain. And beside him you have Margot Verger, who is the best subsidiary character Harris has ever created. At first she is meek, then strong, and at the end finally comes into her gruesome own. Then we have Rinaldo Pazzi, another great character, out to trap Hannibal, but ultimate, inevitably, falls victim to him in a particularly horrible way. Wonnderfully done.
Another stunning piece of villainly is Paul Krendler, who we just cheer at when meets his fate.
Hannibal Lecter is back, and he is bigger and better than ever.
The ending to this book is possibly the best to any fictional piece of writing i have ever come across. The last pages shimmer with brilliance and nostalgia. The last chapter is great, the last paragraphs inspirational, the last line, simply stunning. A great, great ending.
(SORRY - SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW)
The case for 5 stars
Hannibal is written beautifully, with the stunning metaphors and descriptive language I came to love in the past two books in the trilogy. Thomas Harris writes with a unique style that is a pleasure to read. The story is full of twists and turns and the ending is the most unusual, shocking one ever written - but whether this is a good thing remains to be seen.
Hannibal Lecter's character is developed and deepened, which I liked, and we are given insights into what has made him into such a monster. Not much is added to the character of Clarice, but most of her background was discussed in Silence of The Lambs. Instead for most of the book we empathise with her as she has been held back from promotion because of jealousy and sexism.
The case for 1 star
By the end of the novel I felt completely depressed. Hannibal Lecter was the only character to come out on top. Although he was original and interesting I didn't want him to continue roaming free without any justice. Clarice Starling was stripped of all intelligence and power and became nothing but a brainwashed doll in an ending that was shocking and horrific. I could not understand how the author could bare to have Clarice sit down with Lecter and Krendler at the dinner table and take part in what followed. The reasons given; 'hypnosis' and 'drugs' were not explained satisfactorily.
Other characters had also deteriorated.Read more ›
The book gives flesh and soul to Hannibal, making him the centre of the action, and completing his journey from what seemed to be the out of control darkly intelligent monster of the first two books, to a fully realised character with all too human virtues and flaws.
Here Hannibal is the hero and anti-hero. His actions have purpose. He is in pursuit of, and aspiring to, the pure, the unsullied, virtuous, the highest of human creations. He kills those who 'deserve' it, the hypocritical, the ruthlessly cruel rich who abuse the power that wealth has conferred on them, those who would deny him his freedom for their own selfish and base greed. He does not kill at random, nor those that pose him no threat. He is as a superior being culling the diseased from the human flock. As such he is almost the kind of strong intellectual of the type that has been admired through the ages, a type that has it's roots in the world of the ancients of Greece and Rome.
Indeed Hannibal is a character that the ancients would surely appreciate, their heros were rounded characters. People who had as many if not more faults than virtues. People who might kill unjustly but still be regarded as worthy. It is no surprise then that much of the plot of Hannibal is a reworking of one of the myths of the ancient world (Hannibal has found HIS Galatea!)
So Hannibal is something of an aspirational character, strong in body and mind. But he is still flawed. He has unjustly assumed the power to kill and dispose of those he dislikes and despises, and that makes him less than human. Being both above and below us, Hannibal is truly special. Devour this book now. It is one of the best you are likely to read.
Most recent customer reviews
A frustrating book. Some of it's great. Entirely captivating. Writers like Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben go to bed every night crying wishing they could write half as well as... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
It's been seven years since Special Agent Clarice Starling visited Hannibal Lecter in the asylum in "Silence of the Lambs. Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2008 by Kona
The ending of this book is so implausible that it effectively ruins the book. (I am about to write about the ending, so if you don't want to know about it, don't read further. Read morePublished on May 13 2004 by debunk crapwrite
The thing that stands out the most for me after reading this abomination is the obvious contempt, no, LOATHING Thomas Harris has for his readers. Read morePublished on April 26 2004 by rat fan
Wow! Can you say "SELL OUT"? Was this book about Hannibal or the history and tourism of Italy? Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2004 by Kindle Customer
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