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4.5 out of 5 stars25
4.5 out of 5 stars
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2010
This was the first of the series that I read, having seen the film version of Silence of the Lambs I wanted to know what happened next rather than revisit it by reading it, wonderful as it was. I thought, at the time, that there was nothing more Harris could do to frighten me. I was wrong.
Every scene is so brilliantly evocative, masterfully written and beautifully understated- from the beauty of the setting to the most horrifice of the violent scenes. The violence is present, of course- how could it not be, in a Lecter novel? But what makes this novel so terrifying is what it does to the reader themselves.
Hannibal Lecter is a monster, a cruel, inhumane being, there is no question of this, so what I found most terrifying for myself was the fact that I found myself rooting for him. I wanted him to win, I wanted him to get away, and without spoiling the plot, the ending is so deeply controversial that it is impossible to know how to feel. Should I be relieved? Angry? Pleased? I didn't know, having read the final page, and in truth, I still don't.
This book delves into Lecters mind more deeply than Silence of the Lambs (which I have now read) and what is found there is confusing, touching yet monstrous, moving and brutal. It is impossible to know how to feel about this fascinating yet inhumane creature that consumes human flesh, and his relationship with Starling becomes more and more complex and fascinating. It is a true testament to the unsung genius of Harris' writing that this is possible, that he is able to reconcile these traits, seemingly without effort on his part.
Starling is also more developed, more intriguing, having lived a few more years, and again without spoiling the plot, the developing relationship shared between her and Lecter, who have enemies on all sides is impossible to fathom and yet intimate. She is still the gutsy agent we loved from Silence of the Lambs, unflinching, selfless and proud, but older, harder, and more disillusioned, she is even more relatable than before. You find yourself conflicted, wanting Lecter to escape, but also wanting Starling to catch him.
Verger and Krendler, the main antagonists are well written, and both terrible in thier unique ways. Both have designs on our antagonists, and thier aims are so awful that, in a way, they cannot fail to be hated, simply because they are working against the protagonists. Even as antagonists, thier characters are complex and detailed. You also see the return of some old friends as Barney the Orderly and Jack Crawford make thier appearances, but you never feel as if Harris is simply rehashing old stories, everything is new and fresh.
This novel, if you hadn't already gathered from my review, is sharp, conflicting and clever, leaving you in a thoughtful daze that doesn't desist for several days. A thoroughly unputdownable, complex thriller from the brilliant mind of Thomas Harris.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2013
There is no doubt that Harris has the ability to write an engrossing story, and he includes interesting detail about FBI procedures, Florence, bon vivant etc. However, I found this diaappointing after reading "The Silence of the Lambs" and the glowing reviews that this has received. "The Silence of the Lambs was mainly believable, with one exotic character, Hannibal Lecter. This book is full of extraordinary people and requires considerable suspension of disbelief. Half of the characters have either committed murder or are prepared to do so. They are not convincingly drawn. I found the ending of the book ridiculous,and out of character for the parties concerned. It is true that Harris engages the reader's partisanship for Lecter; that is done by making the other characters thoroughly unsympathetic. The book is worth reading if you liked "The Silence of the Lambs", but don't expect it to be better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2014
I have been working my way through the Hannibal world, films, TV show, books. I saw the Hannibal film first and was instantly put off because it was pretty dire. That combined with the bad reviews I read meant I went in a little skeptical. This book is not as bad as the film, or most of the negative reviews on this site. However make no mistake it is a big step down in quality from its predecessors. And therefore you are left somewhat dissatisfied. So where does it go wrong? Several places.
Firstly the characters. Clarice Starling was a courageous go getter in Silence of the Lambs, but in this book her personality seems watered down and she seems a little useless at times, not the Clarice Starling we grew to love. Also Hannibal is a weak character, which is not something I thought I'd ever say. In captivity he was thrilling, toying with characters, manipulating so forth etc. But as a free man he is forced to blend in most of the time and is just a regular Joe, obviously still remarkable clever and cultured, but still the edge has gone from his character. Ironically the one character you are supposed to hate, Mason Verger, is the only intriguing character there is.
There is also a really weird side story about a steroid using lesbian bodybuilder flirting with a straight man in an attempt to convince him to steal her brothers sperm so she can impregnate her girlfriend. No seriously I'm not kidding, that is a genuine plot thread, was a tad silly I must admit.
Also the ending is different to the film. I won't give the story away but it is even worse than the films ending, it is one of the worst endings I have ever read!
Despite the negatives there are some positives. Although Mason Vergers character is a little over the top and unbelievable he is still intriguing and is a source of conflict for the reader. Its made clear from the beginning he is an awful man, however the book does create sympathy for him and in the end you do find yourself wanting him to succeed in his despicable and disturbingly twisted plot.
Also the writing isn't all bad, there are sources of tension in the book which do keep you hooked at parts. Unfortunately the book is too long for its own good and you do force read through some dull parts.
To conclude if you like the series it's worth a read, just don't expect it to match the quality of the first two.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2010
This is a good book from Thomas Harris and I read it in a couple of days. It is great to read about Hannibal's world on the outside in Italy. He loves the sights and smells of Florence. This is a twisted love story between Lecter and Starling but this novel is more about Hannibal the cannibal and his experiences living in the beautiful Renaissance city of Florence. The novel starts off with Clarice Starling on a botched FBI raid which goes terribly wrong, someone close to her dies and the outcome has serious implications for her career. Meanwhile Hannibal Lecter is living in Florence in a beautiful apartment and enjoying life as a Renaissance man. He sends a letter to Starling taunting her about the raid and she is determined to track him down and bring him to justice. There is an interesting subplot involving a vengeful paedophile who is desperate to get his hands on Lecter and make him pay for his suffering. This is an enjoyable novel and a good read. It is a bit sick in parts and not as good as the two previous Lecter novels. None the less the novel is better than the film adaptation and there is enough excitement and twists from Harris to keep you gripped to the end.
Good stuff.
4 stars.
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on 16 September 2015
Dr. Hannibal Lecter is one of those rare characters which becomes iconic, who becomes a meme and ends up appearing outside his original series in parodies, mash-ups and remixes. This book is probably one of the more well-known Thomas Harris novels, and one which sees the notorious cannibal at his best, and at his scariest.

The third book in the series, it’s set seven years after The Silence of the Lambs and features the return of the notorious cannibal, as well as FBI agent Clarice Starling. I’m not going to go in to too much detail about the story, because there’s a shock ending which caused a lot of controversy as well as a hell of a lot of character growth, probably more so than there is in any of the other Hannibal novels with the possible exception of Hannibal Rising.

I think that part of the menace in the novel comes from the fact that Hannibal is on the run, and the threat of him is very real not just inside a jail cell but in the real world, on the streets of cities that you might’ve visited. Then there’s the fact that there’s a second antagonist, a man who wants Lecter dead and who seems intent on using Clarice as an unwitting pawn in his game of cat and mouse.

And it’s not just me who enjoyed this novel more than the others – in fact, Stephen King is a fan of the series and has cited Hannibal as one of his two favourite contemporary horror books, alongside The Exorcist. If you ask me, the Exorcist is the better book, but that doesn’t mean that Hannibal isn’t bad – it’s just a thoroughly gripping thriller, rather than the gamechanger that the Exorcist went on to become.

The novel was also the second bestselling book of the year when it was released in 1999, shifting 1.3 million copies. Gone are the days when Thomas Harris’ work is never out of the bestseller lists, but his work has aged surprisingly well and I’m of the opinion that Hannibal is still just as fresh as the day it came out. Most people who read this sort of thing will have already read it by now, and so you’ll be falling behind if you don’t read a copy yourself.

All this said, it’s definitely worth reading the series in order, and so check out Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs if you haven’t already – when you’ve read them, you can move on to this, and you’ll get much more from the story-line if you know the history of the psychopathic antagonist that we all know and love, even if we’re scared of him. It’s just like any series – it’s always better to watch it evolve over time, rather than to dip in and out.

Once you’ve read the book, you should also consider checking out the movie adaptation, which was directed by Ridley Scott and starred Anthony Hopkins in the titular role. It’s a decent adaptation, but you’ll enjoy it all the more if you read and enjoyed the book. The book has more detail, and somehow the gristle and gore are more vivid in your imagination than they are on-screen. Thomas Harris has a knack for acting like an ignition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2014
Ordered the entire series and each came nicely packaged in great condition, however my copy of Red Dragon had a noticeable crease across the front cover. Overall a great purchase, though.
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on 14 July 2013
Even the with the third installment, Harris just keeps on pushing and what you end up with is something that is truly wonderful. I must say, rather different from Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, however it still is as good, if not better. Hannibal brings the journey full circle. We finally get to see 'the good doctor' in the limelight and rightly so, this book is 100x better than the film, and the film was something. It really is just one of the best novels I have ever read. Definately a must buy.
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on 26 September 2013
This was delivered in next to no time at all and is a great read. The book totally keeps you in suspense all the way through and I like it much more than the film. You get to use your own imagination which is sometimes scarier than watching the thriller as there are no limits. A great read!
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on 5 April 2013
This isn't the same as Silence of the lambs or red dragon, it's really it's own thing. I won't review the book, needless to say if you buy it you won't be disappointed
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on 29 October 2013
Dr Hannibal Lecter is the only cannibal I've ever wanted to succeed. A truly engaging character who it is a little to easy to empathise with.
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