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Tuesday, 8 June, 1999, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Hannibal makes a killing
jodie foster
He's behind you: Jodie Foster and Sir Anthony Hopkins
Horror fans are rushing to bookshops around the world as evil doctor Hannibal Lecter's latest adventure is released.

Thomas Harris' sequel to Silence Of The Lambs, Hannibal, has gone on sale at shops across the globe.

Before it was released, it was the best-selling book at Internet retailer Amazon.com, thanks to thousands of advance orders. In the UK, it was already in the top five on net book charts.

In London, specialist store Murder One opened its doors at midnight to allow fans to buy the book.

Owner Maxim Jabowski said: "It certainly exceeded all our expectations. It's impossible to say how many people we had through the doors, but we do know that we sold about 300 copies and another 200 reserved for people to pick up in the morning."

The character was brought to life by Sir Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 film, while Jodie Foster played the FBI agent who became his obsession, Clarice Starling. Both actors received Oscars for their parts, as did director Jonathan Demme.

Author in shadows

thomas harris
The man behind Hannibal: Thomas Harris
But reclusive author Thomas Harris is refusing to do anything to promote Hannibal, which took him 10 years to write.

"He has said all he has to say is in his books," said Carole Barron, former editor-in-chief at his publisher, Delacorte Press.

But horror-lovers are clamouring to read the latest book about the murderer who likes his liver with red wine and fava beans.

"This is the hot summer read," said James Marcus of Amazon.com. "Harris is very publicity-shy, but I think he's got a large and very loyal audience."

Now, Universal Studios has already spent $10m on the film rights to Hannibal, though it is unclear if production will actually go ahead.

Last week, US reports suggested Universal were worried about the cost of the sequel, while Jonathan Demme is said to be unwilling to direct it.

Witty and amusing

hannibal
Thousands of advance orders have already been made for Hannibal
Lecter is a psychiatrist turned serial killer and cannibal, who made his debut in 1981's Red Dragon.

In Silence of The Lambs, he is seen in the high security Baltimore State Hospital For The Criminally Insane, where he helps FBI agent Clarice Starling to find another serial killer. Brilliantly intelligent, witty and amusing, he manages to work his way into Starling's mind before he escapes.

In the new book, he has been enjoying his freedom for the past seven years, and one of his surviving victims kidnaps Starling to use as bait to tempt him out of hiding. It has been reported Lecter and Starling end up as a couple.

Harris himself has said of Lecter: "He's immensely good company. I work in this little office and I'm always glad when he shows up. He is, in the most general terms, a worthy adversary."

This summer, millions of readers are set to defy the advice of Clarice Starling's boss at the FBI: "Believe me, you don't want Hannibal Lecter inside your head."

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The BBC's Cathy Killick: Eager readers queued at midnight in London
See also:

05 Apr 99 | Entertainment
Hannibal hungry for money
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