To preface this book review, I have read the two prequels to this novel, Hannibal Rising and The Silence of the Lambs, both by Thomas Harris. I found Hannibal and instantly needed to know how the series ended. As an FYI, the series goes in the following order: Hannibal Rising, Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal. Each of these films also has a film adaptation, with the extremely talented Anthony Hopkins playing the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
The novel picks up seven years after the end of The Silence of the Lambs. In this novel, Clarice Starling has been under investigation due to a botched drug raid and faces an inquiry at the Bureau. Meanwhile, Dr. Lecter is enjoying his stolen freedom under the guise of plastic surgery as Dr. Fell , a art connoisseur in Florence, Italy. Not only is he wanted by the American FBI, but also by Mason Verger, an ex-patient of Dr. Lecter’s, who wishes to find the Docter and feed him to Verger’s genetically-engineered pigs, bred for the sole purpose of eating live, human flesh, after Dr. Lecter convinced Verger (who was high on amyl nitrate at the time) to cut his face into pieces and feed it to his dog. Verger is now confined to a bed with a slew of servants and criminals at his wealthy disposal. These three stories collide when Detective Rinaldo Pazzi discovers Dr. Fell’s true identity and attempts to capture the Doctor himself in order to receive Mason Verger’s $5 million bounty.
As always, Harris leads the reader on an explosive journey with plenty of knowledge and style to induct the reader into the mind of Dr. Hannibal Lector and his memory palace. The descriptions and explanations of the areas of Florence are flawless, giving one an accurate description of the Palazzo Capponi and the culture Dr. Lecter cannot live without. Harris’s characters are real, endearing, and at times gruesome. He portrays mortality at its finest, even when it isn’t something beautiful. He’s not afraid to be crude or honest. On the whole, he novel is a an intense roller-coaster from beginning to end.