My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this book. Twice. I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but that just depends on who’s in the tea…!
Here’s the thing, there’s no criminal case as such that the FBI are trying to solve, other than “where is Hannibal?”. It’s more a character piece, for both Clarice and Hannibal. WHY do they both intrigue each other so much that they are arguably attracted to one another, for better and for worse. There’s the scapegoating/politics of the internal workings of the FBI, combined with the influence and bribery of the rich Mason Verger (both situations with roots in reality, sadly).
Between the larger set-pieces – those being the opening shoot out for which Clarice is subsequently reprimanded/scapegoated, the Hannibal/Pazzi altercation, Verger and his man-eating pigs – there is primarily quiet contemplation from each of the main characters about who they are, and why they are doing what they are doing.
There’s also the theme of co-dependency resulting from an abusive relationship – Hannibal/Clarice. They know they are bad for each other, and to each other, but yet they are still drawn together. Yes, one’s an actual serial killer, but I’m referring more to their personal relationship. Being a psychopathic serial killer and a driven FBI agent, respectively, these character types only amplify what can happen in ordinary life through toxic relationships.