Off the Shelf

“Hannibal”

By Marcus Pan

HannibalThe final (chronologically) in Thomas Harris’ psycho-thriller about Hannibal Lecter, sort of anyway. While Hannibal played a very minor role within the confines of the novel Red Dragon, his high brow ramblings, intellectual banter and conversational brilliance captured audiences during the Silence of the Lambs. While the story involved the hunt for serial killer Buffalo Bill, it was Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lechter that stole the stage in a bloody escape after striking a deal with a senator.

With Buffallo Bill now out of the picture, Hannibal picks up the search for the now on the loose Hannibal, who has found acceptance with a bit of a new façade in both face and location. With the intelligence of the good doctor he can fit in just about anywhere, and easily does. While Clarice Starling, never forgotten by Hannibal as he begins fantasizing her as a replacement for his long lost younger sister, Mischa.

This is the novel that holds the breathtaking scene of a cannibalistic lobotomy that blew me away in the movie version. As Clarice’s FBI career stalls due to the actions of Paul Krendler, as she pissed him off in Silence of the Lambs by having the audacity to find Buffalo Bill herself, a drug raid gone bad gives Krendler the fodder he needs to stall it even further.

As a gift to Clarice, Hannibal’s capture and live serving of her nemesis is a surprise for one of their dinners. The ramblings of the slowly lobotomized Krendler are gems of the dinner conversation. The act of removing and cooking pieces of Krendler’s own brain as he sat there and talked to the couple is great.

Besides Krendler, another foe of Hannibal’s is Mason Verger – one of his surviving victims. Verger’s obsessed with capturing Lechter himself, and through the use of his fortune he’s set himself up with a reporting system that gives him every move the FBI and authorities discover about the doctor’s movements even before agents of the bureau get the data. Verger manages to get his hands on Hannibal long enough to get himself killed.

A few words of caution – the ending to the book is radically different to the end of the motion picture from MGM. In fact the ending originally penned by Thomas was changed due to the outrage that some critics had over the original ending to the novel. I’ll let your imagine go with that…Hannibal’s fascination with Clarice as a sister…Clarice’s fascination with a man she finds engaging and brilliant…Buenos Aires in summer…

“Hannibal” by Thomas Harris
Copyright © 1999 by Yazoo Fabrications, Inc.
ISBN: 0-440-22467-5
Published by Dell Publishing

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