Prompted by the impending second season finale of “Hannibal” I decided to go back and re-read Hannibal by Thomas Harris. Much of this season had been culled from this particular book, so I thought it would be interesting to see how and where the story diverged from the original, since showrunner Bryan Singer does not have the rights (yet?) to the Clarice Starling role and she is a major character in the novel.
I actually liked Hannibal better the second time around. Singer was brilliant to develop the TV series from Harris’ books, especially Hannibal, as it is chock full of deeply-detailed historical facts and artistic touches describing both the inner and outer life of Lecter. Hannibal the novel shares a wealth of information about both Hannibal’s past and his thought processes as he solves his multi-pronged problem of keeping Clarice Starling safe, removing her adversaries at the FBI and retaining his freedom once his location is divulged to Mason Verger. Verger, a wealthy pork producer was once a client of Lecter’s due to a mandated psychiatric assessment stemming from child abuse allegations. Lecter took his own grisly and monstrous revenge on Verger for his crimes against children (including Verger’s sister, Margot) and now, Verger will pay whatever it takes to exact his vengeance on Hannibal.