From the Publisher
"Strap yourself in for one heck of a ride—it'll scare your socks off."—Denver Post
"Relentless—endlessly terrifying."—Los Angeles Times
"Interested in getting the hell scared out of you? Buy this book on a Friday ... lock all doors and windows. And by Monday, you might just be able to sleep without a night-light." —Newsday
Don't miss Thomas Harris's New York Times bestsellers:
Luckily for us, seven years is all the R and R creator Thomas Harris allowed his brilliant, mad, and strangely charming Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Yes, the better part of a decade elapsed after then-FBI trainee Clarice Starling exposed her haunting childhood memory to the fascinated Lecter. Though Lecter assured Starling, at the end of The Silence of the Lambs, that he believed the world a better place with her in it, all that may change in Hannibal, as the doctor reawakens Starling's nightmare.
The Barnes & Noble Review
The problem that a novelist faces when he or she has written one of the most unforgettable novels of popular fiction in the late 20th century might seem daunting to some. Thomas Harris -- one of the least prolific of the bestselling writers -- has produced four novels in nearly as many decades: Black Sunday, a technothriller of terrorism at the Super Bowl, Red Dragon, and the most famous, The Silence of the Lambs.
Now the fourth: Hannibal.
The movie of The Silence of the Lambs looms in the imagination. It is, like the movie of Rosemary's Baby, nearly as good or even better in spots than the original novel it's based on -- a rarity in film. The actors in The Silence of the Lambs, Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and even Scott Glenn, became the characters Clarice Starling, Hannibal Lecter, and Jack Crawford. It's hard to read the novel now without imagining Jodie's face as Clarice. It's harder to read Hannibal without this same recognition.
That's the worst thing I can say about Hannibal, which deserves all the hype it's received.
This is one page-turning, scary as hell novel, with more of a solid FBI presence than existed in The Silence of the Lambs (and let me stop comparing them now. Silence had its own presentation. Haninbal has a separate but connected life.)
I actually read it in one sitting.
Hannibal opens with a bloody confrontation -- Clarice Starling is taking the heat. She's been pulled in by her friend John Brigham to go on a run to bust up a drug operation. The woman running it, Evelda Drumgo, is a gun-toting mother -- with baby in tow -- who lets loose on Clarice and her colleagues. Brigham and others fall. When Evelda aims at Clarice, the FBI agent manages to take her down and still save the baby. Only problem is, the TV cameras were already on the scene, and the pictures tell the story of a hotshot FBI agent who took out an African-American woman with a baby in her arms.
This is only the beginning of Clarice's troubles.
Soon, the Agency wants her out. This is the final straw: she has been perceived by some in power as a cocky, out-of-her-league wannabe; now, she's primed to be a scapegoat for what looks like an Agency screw-up. When a strange envelope arrives through the mail, Clarice suspects it's a letter bomb -- but what's inside the envelope may be the biggest explosion of all.
It's from Hannibal.
He still cares.
All right, a little background for those of you who went to Mars in the past decade and missed The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon (and if you did, buy them now. They are both phenomenal.) Dr. Hannibal Lecter was once a psychiatrist, but his taste for the finer things -- that is, human organs -- caused problems in his chosen profession. He is both a terror and something of a detective, in that he has a history of knowing where the bodies are buried, where the secrets are answered, and how to turn the key in the lock of the human mind. Anyone who has read the first two novels dealing with him knows that he also may be one of the most fascinating fictional characters ever created, even if he does have a tendency to skin faces and nosh a bit too often on human liver. He was incarcerated in what seemed like a medieval dungeon in an insane asylum, and that's where Clarice first met him.
There's almost a dark father-daughter thing going between them, just as there is a light father-daughter thing between Jack Crawford, the formidable head honcho of the Behavioral Science area of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and Clarice. Crawford wants to know why Lecter is writing to Clarice -- and he attacks it from a fresh angle. One of Lecter's surviving victims is named Mason Verger. Verger, wealthy from a meatpacking fortune, survives now on a breathing machine (yes, the attack was that bad), and wants to see Clarice. Again, Clarice is baffled, but as she travels to Verger's Maryland estate, she learns more about Hannibal and his past adventures.
And now, the hunt is on -- for Mason Verger has a vital clue as to catching Hannibal Lecter once and for all, and Clarice Starling must now re-enter a wonderland of terrors that she left behind when she began her journey in The Silence of the Lambs.
And no, I will not tell you more, for each piece of this intricate puzzle opens onto another -- and half the fun is in the opening of each chapter to find another dazzling connection to that Doctor of Infernal Medicine.
Get this one. Don't pass it up. Don't believe the naysayers who think that The Silence of the Lambs is sacred and all other writs are unholy by Harris. Hannibal is a worthy successor to The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon. And I'm thrilled it finally came out.
Now, Mr. Harris:
Do I have to wait another decade or so for my next Hannibal fix?
Take the Hannibal Quiz!
We've come up with some questions to further your enjoyment of Hannibal: Bone up on your knowledge of the myth and the man, and see if you're ready for the next stage in his life story. See if you can beat your friends at what should be a fairly easy series of questions based on the past Hannibal novels -- unless you're not up on the man behind the mask. Answers run beneath the questions. No cheating!
13 Questions to Test Your Hannibal I.Q.
1. What was the first novel by Thomas Harris in which Hannibal Lecter made an appearance?
2. Name three famous Hannibals -- one from history, two from literature.
3. What is one of Hannibal's favorite meals -- including his wine, side dish, and main dish?
4. What science was Hannibal formally trained in?
5. What is the name of the second novel in which Hannibal appears?
6. What famous criminally insane man is the murderer in The Silence of the Lambs somewhat based on?
7. Who played Hannibal Lecter in the megahit movie The Silence of the Lambs ?
8. What is the name of the moth that symbolizes both death and transformation in The Silence of the Lambs ?
9. Who is the Tooth Fairy (with regard to Thomas Harris's novels)? And Buffalo Bill?
10. To what does the title The Silence of the Lambs refer?
11. Does Clarice Starling make an appearance in Red Dragon ?
12. Who, besides Hannibal Lecter, appears in both Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs ?
13. What is Hannibal's favorite soothing facial mask made from?
1.Red Dragon. The movie based on this novel is called Manhunter. We prefer the book's title.
2. First there's Hannibal the leader who tried to ride elephants over the Alps many centuries ago -- but he didn't quite make it (see The War with Hannibal ). Then there's Hannibal, Missouri, the home of Becky Thatcher, Tom Sawyer, and Huck Finn ( Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn). And finally, our favorite, Hannibal the Cannibal. Somehow, there's a connection.
3. A nice Chianti, fava beans, and...human liver. We're not sure if he likes it with a sifting of flour or onions on top. For tips on great ways to prepare liver -- of the nonhuman variety -- check out The Complete Meat Cookbook.
4. Psychiatry. And you thought he was a chef! For another glance at psychiatry and insanity, try Guilt by Reason of Insanity: A Psychiatrist Probes the Minds of Killers
5. The Silence of the Lambs. If you missed this question, you need to grab this book now and catch up on one of the most suspenseful and horrifying reads of the century.
6. Ed Gein. The killer in Psycho is somewhat inspired by him as well. To find out more about Ed, try the terrific true-crime book Deviant by Harold Schechter. Schechter is right up there with Anne Rule ( Bitter Harvest ) as one of the best of the new breed of true-crime chroniclers.
7. Anthony Hopkins. That's Sir Anthony Hopkins (Anthony Hopkins: The Authorized Biography ).
8. The death's-head moth. The killer in The Silence of the Lambs does something with this moth, particularly in its pupal stage. Read the book to find out what that is. Or find out more about moths in general with Peterson First Guide to Butterflies and Moths.
9. The Tooth Fairy is the nickname given to the murderer in Red Dragon. Buffalo Bill is the nickname the media gives the killer in The Silence of the Lambs.
10. The title The Silence of the Lambs refers to Clarice's childhood and the slaughter of lambs on a farm on which she lived for a brief period. To tell more would ruin the fun for anyone who has not yet read this terrifying novel.
11. No, Clarice is not anywhere to be found in Red Dragon. But she is in The Silence of the Lambs -- and Hannibal.
12. Agent Crawford. Grab a copy of Red Dragon to find out more about this fascinating FBI agent. For a great nonfiction book on a fascinating FBI profiler of serial killers, you need to check out Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crimes Unit.
13. It ain't an oatmeal-and-avocado mask. Hannibal prefers the skin of a human face to keep that rosy youthful glow. No book recommendations come to mind on this one.
...[G]reat is the fund of fascination with Lecter built up in Mr. Harris's previous novels for his being a superman embodying absolute yet comprehensible evil...that almost nothing can dissipate his malign attraction....Hannibal remains full of wonderful touches, typical of Mr. Harris's grasp of arcane detail.
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hannibal the cannibal is back again, and in this special audio version, listeners are treated to the author's unique and riveting interpretation of his characters' voices and personalities. Having escaped captivity in The Silence of the Lambs, Dr. Hannibal Lecter has been living on the sly in Europe, leading the life of a sophisticated, academic gentleman. But Hannibal has left behind one sloppy mistake: a victim named Mason Verger, who was accused of molesting his own children but managed to avoid jail provided he sought psychiatric treatment with Dr. Lecter. Hannibal has left Verger barely alive, and, bent on revenge, this man who is as much a monster as Hannibal buys off a cadre of corrupt government agents to find his nemesis. (As an interesting aside for listeners, Hannibal has left Verger lipless, and Harris's vocal rendition of this character is particularly eerie.) Simultaneously, Clarice Starling, the FBI agent who sought Dr. Lecter's assistance in finding another killer in The Silence of the Lambs, is also on his trail, while, in turn, Hannibal is seeking Clarice, for whom he shows a curious affection. As the two eventually find each other, the listener is treated to an incredibly disturbing and shocking conclusion. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Hannibal is, of course, Harris's long-awaited sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, which so thoroughly propelled the brilliant psychiatrist-cannibal into the popular imagination. We catch up with Lecter in Florence where he is living a scholarly life and rarely murders anyone but is still obsessed with FBI special agent Clarice Starling. He is nearly captured in Florence, after which the FBI and Starling are back on his trail. Also tracking Lecter is another monster, Mason Verger, his only surviving victim. Verger is mutilated, paralyzed, and on a respirator but has resources enough at his disposal to co-opt and manipulate the FBI's investigation in his quest for vengeance. The strong and likable Starling is doubly betrayed, first by the FBI and then by Harris himself, as the novel stumbles to its bizarre and unlikely conclusion. The author reads his own work with remarkable skill and precision--an ironic but welcome asset to this program, which is an adequate abridgment.--Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
It is...one of the two most frightening popular novels of our time, the other being The Exorcist....[A] novel full of rough bumps and little insights....[An] authentic witch's brew, eye of newt and haunch of redneck....[N]ovels that so bravely and cleverly erase the line between popular fiction and literature are very much to be prized.
The New York Times Book Review
A work of art. The last 100 pages are the best I've ever read in the thriller genre...five stars.
What is there not to like about an evil genius with a taste for human sweetbreads and absolutely no morning-after guilt, or indigestion, about slaking his hunger? Particularly, it must be added, when such a monster is securely incarcerated in the dank basement of a Baltimore, Md., mental institution for the rest of his life. Having created a character of unadulterated evil, Harris has now proceeded to adulterate him, giving Lecter a traumatic childhood experience to explain the wicked path he later trod. What is more, Lecter is by no means the worst member of the rolling cast of Hannibal; that honor goes to Mason Verger, one of Lecter's two surviving victims, hideously deformed (thanks to Hannibal), heir to his family's meatpacking fortune, a one-time torturer for Uganda's former dictator Idi Amin, and a child molester to boot. The bumby journey toward the conclusion of Hannibal is often exciting. At the top of his form, Harris is the class of the current field of thriller writers, ladling out authentic-sounding information on such arcana as weapons and Swiss bank accounts, plus sharp thumbnail portraits of the major players and malefactors and incessant plot surprises.
New York Observer
Mr. Harris's narrative tone is detached, knowing and dryly witty: The reader is somehow ironically complicit in the unfolding action...Mr. Harris does't simply describe, he seems to reveal...Even the book's shocking, bleakly amusing ending is gratifying in his hands. With Hannibal, Mr. Harris has devised an unlikely, unsentimental romance out of invidious deeds.
Time Out New York
After 11 years, Harris has succumbed to the demand for Lecter's return, but he's done so in a delightfully perverse book written with complete desregard for the standards of Holywood or the stomachs of squeamish readers. Harris builds Lecter's mystique by mostly keeping him in the background...When Lector finally takes center stage, he's shown in unlikely contexts trapped between antsy children on a crowded airplane, for example that through their absurd banality, make him suprisingly sympathetic. Harris's prose isn't as sharp as it was in Dragon or Lambs, but Hannibal's precise construction and cheerfully sick humor proce that Harris is still one of America's best, most daring pop writers.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter Twenty One
The Christian martyr San Miniato picked up his severed head from the sand of the Roman amphitheater in Florence and carried it beneath his arm to the mountainside across the river where he lies in his splendid church, tradition says.
Certainly San Miniato's body, erect or not, passed en route along the ancient street where we now stand, the Via de' Bardi. The evening gathers now and the street is empty, the fan pattern of the cobbles shining in a winter drizzle not cold enough to kill the smell of cats. We are among the palaces built six hundred years ago by the merchant princes, the kingmakers and connivers of Renaissance Florence. Within bow-shot across the Arno River are the cruel spikes of the Signoria, where the monk Savonarola was hanged and burned, and that great meat house of hanging Christs, the Uffizi museum.
These family palaces, pressed together in an ancient street, frozen in the modern Italian bureaucracy, are prison architecture on the outside, but they contain great and graceful spaces, high silent halls no one ever sees, draped with rotting, rain-streaked silk where lesser works of the great Renaissance masters hang in the dark for years, and are illuminated by the lightning after the draperies collapse.
Here beside you is the palazzo of the Capponi, a family distinguished for a thousand years, who tore up a French king's ultimatum in his face and produced a pope.
The windows of the Palazzo Capponi are dark now, behind their iron grates. The torch rings are empty. In that pane of crazed old glass is a bullet hole from the 1940s. Go closer. Rest your head against the cold iron as the policeman did and listen. Faintly you can hear a clavier. Bach's Goldberg Variations played, not perfectly, but exceedingly well, with an engaging understanding of the music. Played not perfectly, but exceedingly well; there is perhaps a slight stiffness in the left hand.
If you believe you are beyond harm, will you go inside? Will you enter this palace so prominent in blood and glory, follow your face through the web-spanned dark, toward the exquisite chiming of the clavier? The alarms cannot see us. The wet policeman lurking in the doorway cannot see us. Come . . .
Inside the foyer the darkness is almost absolute. A long stone staircase, the stair rail cold beneath our sliding hand, the steps scooped by the hundreds of years of footfalls, uneven beneath our feet as we climb toward the music.
The tall double doors of the main salon would squeak and howl if we had to open them. For you, they are open. The music comes from the far, far corner, and from the corner comes the only light, light of many candles pouring reddish through the small door of a chapel off the corner of the room.
Cross to the music. We are dimly aware of passing large groups of draped furniture, vague shapes not quite still in the candlelight, like a sleeping herd. Above us the height of the room disappears into darkness.
The light glows redly on an ornate clavier and on the man known to Renaissance scholars as Dr. Fell, the doctor elegant, straight-backed as he leans into the music, the light reflecting off his hair and the back of his quilted silk dressing gown with a sheen like pelt.
The raised cover of the clavier is decorated with an intricate scene of banquetry, and the little figures seem to swarm in the candlelight above the strings. He plays with his eyes closed. He has no need of the sheet music. Before him on the lyre-shaped music rack of the clavier is a copy of the American trash tabloid the National Tattler. It is folded to show only the face on the front page, the face of Clarice Starling.
Our musician smiles, ends the piece, repeats the saraband once for his own pleasure and as the last quill-plucked string vibrates to silence in the great room, he opens his eyes, each pupil centered with a red pinpoint of light. He tilts his head to the side and looks at the paper before him.
He rises without sound and carries the American tabloid into the tiny, ornate chapel, built before the discovery of America. As he holds it up to the light of the candles and unfolds it, the religious icons above the altar seem to read the tabloid over his shoulder, as they would in a grocery line. The type is seventy-two-point Railroad Gothic. It says "DEATH ANGEL: CLARICE STARLING, THE FBI'S KILLING MACHINE."
Faces painted in agony and beatitude around the altar fade as he snuffs the candles. Crossing the great hall he has no need of light. A puff of air as Dr. Hannibal Lecter passes us. The great door creaks, closes with a thud we can feel in the floor. Silence.
Footsteps entering another room. In the resonances of this place, the walls feel closer, the ceiling still high--sharp sounds echo late from above--and the still air holds the smell of vellum and parchment and extinguished candlewicks.
The rustle of paper in the dark, the squeak and scrape of a chair. Dr. Lecter sits in a great armchair in the fabled Capponi Library. His eyes reflect light redly, but they do not glow red in the dark, as some of his keepers have sworn they do. The darkness is complete. He is considering. . . .
It is true that Dr. Lecter created the vacancy at the Palazzo Capponi by removing the former curator--a simple process requiring a few seconds' work on the old man and a modest outlay for two bags of cement--but once the way was clear he won the job fairly, demonstrating to the Belle Arti Committee an extraordinary linguistic capability, sight-translating medieval Italian and Latin from the densest Gothic black-letter manuscripts.
He has found a peace here that he would preserve--he has killed hardly anybody, except his predecessor, during his residence in Florence.
His appointment as translator and curator of the Capponi Library is a considerable prize to him for several reasons:
The spaces, the height of the palace rooms, are important to Dr. Lecter after his years of cramped confinement. More important, he feels a resonance with the palace; it is the only private building he has ever seen that approaches in dimension and detail the memory palace he has maintained since youth.
In the library, this unique collection of manuscripts and correspondence going back to the early thirteenth century, he can indulge a certain curiosity about himself.
Dr. Lecter believed, from fragmentary family records, that he was descended from a certain Giuliano Bevisangue, a fearsome twelfth-century figure in Tuscany, and from the Machiavelli as well as the Visconti. This was the ideal place for research. While he had a certain abstract curiosity about the matter, it was not ego-related. Dr. Lecter does not require conventional reinforcement. His ego, like his intelligence quota, and the degree of his rationality, is not measurable by conventional means.
In fact, there is no consensus in the psychiatric community that Dr. Lecter should be termed a man. He has long been regarded by his professional peers in psychiatry, many of whom fear his acid pen in the professional journals, as something entirely Other. For convenience they term him "monster."
The monster sits in the black library, his mind painting colors on the dark and a medieval air running in his head. He is considering the policeman.
Click of a switch and a low lamp comes on.
Now we can see Dr. Lecter seated at a sixteenth-century refectory table in the Capponi Library. Behind him is a wall of pigeonholed manuscripts and great canvas-covered ledgers going back eight hundred years. A fourteenth-century correspondence with a minister of the Republic of Venice is stacked before him, weighted with a small casting Michelangelo did as a study for his horned Moses, and in front of the inkstand, a laptop computer with on-line research capability through the University of Milan.
Bright red and blue among the dun and yellow piles of parchment and vellum is a copy of the National Tattler. And beside it, the Florence edition of La Nazione.
Dr. Lecter selects the Italian newspaper and reads its latest attack on Rinaldo Pazzi, prompted by an FBI disclaimer in the case of Il Mostro. "Our profile never matched Tocca," an FBI spokesman said.
La Nazione cited Pazzi's background and training in America, at the famous Quantico academy, and said he should have known better.
The case of Il Mostro did not interest Dr. Lecter at all, but Pazzi's background did. How unfortunate that he should encounter a policeman trained at Quantico, where Hannibal Lecter was a textbook case.
When Dr. Lecter looked into Rinaldo Pazzi's face at the Palazzo Vecchio, and stood close enough to smell him, he knew for certain that Pazzi suspected nothing, even though he had asked about the scar on Dr. Lecter's hand. Pazzi did not even have any serious interest in him regarding the curator's disappearance.
The policeman saw him at the exposition of torture instruments. Better to have encountered him at an orchid show.
Dr. Lecter was well aware that all the elements of epiphany were present in the policeman's head, bouncing at random with the million other things he knew.
Should Rinaldo Pazzi join the late curator of the Palazzo Vecchio down in the damp? Should Pazzi's body be found after an apparent suicide? La Nazione would be pleased to have hounded him to death.
Not now, the monster reflected, and turned to his great rolls of vellum and parchment manuscripts.
Dr. Lecter does not worry. He delighted in the writing style of Neri Capponi, banker and emissary to Venice in the fifteenth century, and read his letters, aloud from time to time, for his own pleasure late into the night.