by Thomas Harris
Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal "The Cannibal". One of the most memorable characters of modern fiction, and perhaps one of the most disturbing, he is also one of the most intriguing. What kind of a man can go from pouring tea and reciting classic Japanese poetry one moment to committing gruesome murder the next, all without his heart rate rising above eighty-five beats per minute? Thomas Harris's new novel, Hannibal Rising, delves into his character's past and how it influenced the creation of a psyche both beautiful and dark. We get to learn of Hannibal's lineage and his life as a relatively normal if somewhat exceptional boy in Lithuania until his world is suddenly immersed in the worst kind of horror from which he emerges as a sole survivor, irrevocably changed. Hannibal is adopted by a kindly uncle and his beautiful wife and taken to France, there to continue his education and hopefully heal his damaged mind. But tragedy strikes again, and Hannibal embarks upon a bloody course of revenge most befitting to those on the receiving end.
With an average of about six years between each of his novels, one would expect Harris to deliver us a story that is honed and polished, and as usual he does not disappoint. His prose is clear and as gripping as ever, though any fan of the character may find themselves wishing for more; this novel is really a "prequel" to the series featuring Harris's infamous character, and one can only speculate with great relish (ha ha--cannibalism pun) where a true sequel to 1999's Hannibal might take us. In the meantime, Hannibal Rising is a worthy (and arguably, necessary) addition to the Hannibal Lecter mythos.
by Thomas Harris