Review: Hannibal – Thomas Harris

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thomas harris hannibal cover

Hannibal Lecter #3

SYNOPSIS: Years after his escape, posing as scholarly Dr. Fell, curator of a grand family’s palazzo, Hannibal lives the good life in Florence, playing lovely tunes by serial killer/composer Henry VIII and killing hardly anyone himself. Clarice is unluckier: in the novel’s action-film-like opening scene, she survives an FBI shootout gone wrong, and her nemesis, Paul Krendler, makes her the fall guy. Clarice is suspended, so, unfortunately, the first cop who stumbles on Hannibal is an Italian named Pazzi, who takes after his ancestors, greedy betrayers depicted in Dante’s Inferno. Pazzi is on the take from a character as scary as Hannibal: Mason Verger. When Verger was a young man busted for raping children, his vast wealth saved him from jail. All he needed was psychotherapy–with Dr. Lecter. Thanks to the treatment, Verger is now on a respirator, paralyzed except for one crablike hand, watching his enormous, brutal moray eel swim figure eights and devour fish. His obsession is to feed Lecter to some other brutal pets. – via Goodreads

GRADE 6You all know I absolutely loved the first two Hannibal novels. The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon were both absolutely brilliant, beautiful, well-structured and very well written. Hannibal Lecter was creepy, freaky, the stories were intense, Will Graham and Clarice Starling were in fine form, the books were, simply, smart and chilling. I have been waiting years to get to this novel (I know, I really need to work on how I prioritise what I read) and I finally got to it. I have praised how loyal the previous movies were to their books, which is amazing. I know that Scott’s Hannibal does not get so much love, and I wondered if that was due to a bad book adaptation or what. Harris is a great writer, and I honestly thought this book would be so much more than it was, but let me tell you, it’s quite the disappointment. It starts strongly, it really does. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the initial setup, there was so much potential. But then the story took on this weird, not-suited life of its own and it went downhill from there. Steeply. It was unbelievable, and not in the grand, oh wow kind of way, either. The writing that had started so crisp and rich dwindled, the story setup and the characters that were so fascinating were quickly thrown aside, Hannibal was brought front and centre and then there was this horrible sense of disappointment because the Hannibal of this novel is so intensely different from the Hannibal that has been set up before. Lecter and Clarice no longer chill and thrill, and that conclusion? People complain about the movie conclusion and then there is this one… the whole thing simply becomes a caricature of what it was, which is a real pity. I feel bad about scoring it what I did, but I cannot possibly score it any higher. It starts with a bang and just loses steam and becomes jilted and silly. I mean Hannibal takes on this whole supernatural power, and then there is the drugging and hypnosis and he cannot be caught (I could deal with it – but it got messy). A large chunk of this novel was simply not credible. I couldn’t buy into it like I could the other two, not to mention that the book itself just wasn’t as engrossing or thrilling as it could have been. What a waste.

The Ten Most Iconic Female Movie Characters Blogathon

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My dear Miss Mutant of Cinema Parrot Disco passed the torch to me of the blogathon that was started by Dell On Movies, namely the Ten Most Iconic Female Movie Characters.

I must say that I think this is an awesome idea for a blogathon, and there are some great choices on here that I would most certainly have picked. Their inclusion, however, meant that I would have to sit and think a few moments longer on this before I could just magically produce a name. Following this blogathon I have loved seeing some characters getting the boot and then being brought back in later by someone else again. It really is a tough little list!

Here are Dell’s rules:

A list of 10 iconic female movie characters has been made. That list will be assigned to another blogger who can then change it by removing one character (describing why they think she should not be on the list) and replacing it with another one (also with motivation) and hand over the baton to another blogger. Once assigned, that blogger will have to put his/her post up within a week. If this is not the case the blogger who assigned it has to reassign it to another blogger.

The list as it stands now is as follows:

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2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Alright, firstly I was horrified to see Lisbeth Salander taken off the list. I know a lot of people are not really big on her and all that, but I think Lisbeth is a fantastic character who stands her ground, doesn’t take crap, and is one strong woman. I know she is also an extremely damaged character, but she makes it work either way. Miss Mutant’s addition of The Bride was great, though, no denying that. Shocked as I was, I am not going to put Lisbeth back on the list, there are other ladies that need recognition, too, so here we go.

Who’s out?

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I see that Nurse Ratched has caused quite the war here, being booted off and put back on over and over again. I am going to have to take her off again because as messed up as she was and all that in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, she just isn’t that iconic to me. If you have seen the movie (and I have), then yeah, sure she is iconic. If you haven’t, the chances of you knowing who she is is rather scarce. But aside from that, there is also not an awful lot that is known about her, which defeats the point of this for me a little. We know she doesn’t take crap from anyone, and I thought she was pretty darn cruel, but there isn’t really much else that I can tell you about her. In my eyes there are far worthier women that need to be included on this list (such as my pick, yes, yes :P)

Who’s in?

shosanna dreyfus - tmifmc

Shosanna Dreyfus is a strong one for me. Her character survived hell, and she somehow found a way to make her life work. However, the Jew Hunter was hot on her heels, her escape something that has lingered with him. When Shosanna comes into contact with Hans Landa again, she embarks on a revenge mission that just might not be something she will come back from, and she is totally alright with that. I like the way that she was smart, the way her anger smouldered beneath the surface, ever present, but the way she had still built a life, either way. Her deep desire to avenge her slaughtered family is also something that never goes away, and just the way she finally hatches her plan when given a fantastic opportunity is great. Shosanna handled the hand she was dealt in life pretty well, all things considered. Her love for Marcel also endeared her to me – she could hide her Jewish roots from the Nazis, but she could not hide the fact that she was in an intercultural relationship, and she didn’t mind that one bit, didn’t give a damn what anyone had to say about it. She was just always going to be different from the norms. Mélanie Laurent was just brilliant for the role, too, adding more depth to the character and making her real.

So now that all is said and done, I would like to nominate Natasha of Life of this City Girl to continue with this, I am sure the feminist in you is going to have grand fun my Chemistry Kidney!


Also, thank you so much for helping me out with my graphic Anna! Much appreciated!

Review: The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris

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the silence of the lambs book cover

Hannibal Lecter #2

FBI trainee Clarice Starling is working hard to prove herself and make something of herself at the Bureau. Head of the Behavioural Unit is Jack Crawford, who calls Clarice in to set her on an assignment. The assignment? To talk to convicted serial killer, psychiatrist and cannibal, Dr Hannibal Lecter. Just a routine interview for their databases, nothing more. Clarice is unsure as to why she would be requested to do this considering that Lecter has not spoken to anyone in years. Regardless, she goes to meet Lecter, who surprisingly meets with her and talks to her. He sends her on a mission which ultimately culminates in her discovering a severed head and a whole lot of new questions.

Crawford, meanwhile, is hunting Buffalo Bill, a serial killer that is skinning women and dumping their bodies in rivers. He needs to find him. Lecter wishes to help with the Buffalo Bill case, but Clarice knows nothing of it and is not there for that. After her meeting with Lecter, Crawford takes her with to a crime scene of a victim of Buffalo Bill, a young girl, and Clarice is asked to fingerprint the deceased and inspect the body. Lodged in the girl’s throat she finds a moth, which opens up a new avenue for them to explore. Crawford, meanwhile, dismisses anything and everything that Clarice tells him Lecter told her in connection with the Buffalo Bill case, not wanting any help from the madman he despises.

Catherine Baker Martin, the daughter of a powerful senator, goes missing, and it is soon established that Buffalo Bill is the man who took her. Crawford relents and decides that they are going to have to work the angle of using Hannibal Lecter, as he may provide answers or leads for them, but they keep Senator Ruth Martin out of it, knowing that playing with her will thrill Lecter more than helping them find her daughter. Frederick Chilton, head of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, gets a little too involved with trying to get back at Starling for rejecting him and Hannibal embarrassing him all those years ago, and instead tells the senator that Lecter could possibly help and that Crawford is keeping her out of the loop. It is arranged that Lecter will be taken to speak directly with Senator Martin and discuss who has her daughter.

Does Hannibal Lecter really know who has Catherine Baker Martin? Will Buffalo Bill kill Catherine just to get rid of her because the police are taking this one that much more seriously? Will Clarice finish up her training at the FBI and go on to become an agent? What will happen now that Lecter is being moved away from Chilton and into a place he would prefer more?

GRADE 8This book was very entertaining. I was hooked and I enjoyed the writing style and characters, although not many of them advance. I know that Clarice Starling may have the more popular movies, and that she is the one that Harris eventually fixated on, and she is a very compelling character and all that, I am just that much more taken with Will Graham. But let’s move away from that. Harris is a talented writer with a knack for bringing the disturbing to the page. I found it enjoyable how he brought in some of the technology and techniques of the day it was written in, as well as the procedures, making it feel a lot more authentic. As for Dr Hannibal Lecter? He thrilled me, again. Not that I expected anything else, but wow. I have to give the movie credit for remaining pretty damn loyal to the book, and being one of the best page to screen adaptions I have ever seen. Naturally I am recommending this. The plot was solid, the dialogue entertaining and interesting, keeping you at the edge of your seat, Starling’s history was laid out and had quite a bit going for it, and her relationship with Hannibal was an odd one, though interesting.