Book Review: Hannibal, by Thomas Harris

Seven years have passed since Dr. Hannibal Lecter escaped from his prison for the criminally insane, the site of his conversations with FBI Agent Clarice Starling. He has never forgotten her. Nor has Mason Verger forgotten Hannibal Lecter. How could he, left utterly crippled, terribly disfigured from his much earlier confrontation with the doctor. Now Verger sees an opportunity to get to Lecter through Starling. If she can find him. Or if he can find her.

Thomas Harris’s Hannibal was a fantastic read. As the title suggests, this really isn’t a story about Agent Starling, but about Lecter himself – his life, his early years, his incredible talents, and his enduring obsessions. The story is very engaging, in quite the same way that Red Dragon was – as a brilliant insight into a criminal mind. Yet even better written than Red Dragon with a literary style that does not inhibit the tension rising in the story, leading to the final great confrontation.

Book Review: Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris

Red Dragon was Harris’s second novel, and the first to introduce a character who has surely become one of the most memorable of fictional villains – Hannibal Lecter. Lecter is behind bars, yet still capable of influencing events on the outside, including the inspiration he unwittingly offers to a deeply disturbed killer known as the Red Dragon. Two families have been brutally slaughtered and mutilated by the Dragon. Officers are desperately searching for him, assisted by Will Graham, whose special skills and sensitivities make him an ideal hunter, yet at the same time more likely to suffer emotionally from the hunt and exposure to the killings.

This was a very intriguing read, despite the sudden shift of the story from a thrilling mystery in the first half, when the identity of the killer is still unknown, to a disturbing life story of a vicious killer in the second half, all mystery suddenly removed from the story of the Dragon and his Becoming. Except for the question of whether he can be stopped before he kills again. Odd shift, I thought. But still a very good read.