Book Order by Series

Hannibal Lecter Books in Order

Hannibal Lecter Books in order 

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Hannibal Lecter is a book series by Thomas Harris centered on the main protagonist, Hannibal Lecter. He is a clever, cannibalistic killer who offers his help to the police to capture other killers.

The first book is Red Dragon, published in 1981. It features FBI profiler Will Graham and his interaction with Hannibal. He retires with his family helping to capture and imprison Hannibal. But a second killer is on the loose not long after. Will comes back from retirement to assist with the investigation.

Agent Clarice Starling, a new main character is introduced in Silence of the Lambs. She’s assigned to meet Hannibal Lecter in a high-security mental facility. The title relates to one of Starling’s chats with Lecter. He explores her background and sows the seeds of Stockholm Syndrome.

There are two antagonists: the murderer and Hannibal. Starling must be wary of both, but it is evident who she is most afraid of. It is the beast at the institution who aids in the investigation and his demented mind.

The third book picks up seven years after Hannibal escapes from jail. It provides us with one more look at the strange romance between Clarice and Hannibal with its brutal intricacy. Hannibal fixates on his most recent friend, sending her letters and presents.

The fourth book, Hannibal Rising, is a prequel. It begins with a story set in Lithuania during WWII. Hannibal’s family is forced into hiding and murdered. His little sister is killed and Hannibal is forced to eat her flesh. This heinous act is the beginning of a monster. The plot continues with Hannibal struggling with PTSD and obsessing about vengeance for his sister.

See also: Thomas Harris Books in Order.

Hannibal Lecter Books in order 

  1. Red Dragon (1981)
  2. The Silence of the Lambs (1988)
  3. Hannibal (1999)
  4. Hannibal Rising (2006)

Similar authors

  • The Godfather by Mario Puzo follows the legendary Mafia story of violence and betrayal, now a worldwide phenomenon.
  • Stephen King’s The Shining follows a family that travels to a remote hotel for the winter. Here,  a dark presence pulls the father into violence, and his psychic son sees terrifying foreboding.

See also: Odd Thomas Books in Order.

Most recommended books of the series

  1. The Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal Lecter, #2) (4.22 Goodreads score)
  2. Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter, #1) (4.04 Goodreads score)
  3. Hannibal (Hannibal Lecter, #3) (3.79 Goodreads score)
  4. Hannibal Rising (Hannibal Lecter, #4) (3.55 Goodreads score)


The Horror Writers Association honored Thomas Harris, the author of Hannibal Lecter, with the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Latest releases in the series

The last and final book of the series is Hannibal Rising, published in 2006.

Movies based on the books

The series was adapted for film and television. The first movie adaptation was Michael Mann’s 1986 film Manhunter, an adaptation of Red Dragon. The Silence of the Lambs, directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Anthony Hopkins in the role of Hannibal Lecter, was the following adaptation. It became the third picture in Academy Award history to win all five major categories. Following that, two additional films were made.

Hannibal, a television series, premiered in 2013. It was not a direct adaptation but was inspired by characters and elements from the novels.

Lifetime produced a television series centered around Starling working for the FBI, titled Clarise. It was released in 2021.

Book summaries

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Red Dragon (1981)

Feed your fears with the terrifying classic that introduced cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter.FBI agent Will Graham once risked his sanity to capture Hannibal Lecter, an ingenious killer like no other. Now, he’s following the bloodstained pattern of the Tooth Fairy, a madman who’s already wiped out two families.To find him, Graham has to understand him. To understand him, Graham has only one place left to go: the mind of Dr. Lecter.

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The Silence of the Lambs (1988)

A serial murderer known only by a grotesquely apt nickname–Buffalo Bill–is stalking women. He has a purpose, but no one can fathom it, for the bodies are discovered in different states. Clarice Starling, a young trainee at the FBI Academy, is surprised to be summoned by Jack Crawford, chief of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science section. Her assignment: to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter–Hannibal the Cannibal–who is kept under close watch in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.Dr. Lecter is a former psychiatrist with a grisly history, unusual tastes, and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understanding of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs–and ingenious, masterfully written book and an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.

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Hannibal (1999)

You remember Hannibal Lecter: gentleman, genius, cannibal. Seven years have passed since Dr. Lecter escaped from custody. And for seven years he’s been at large, free to savor the scents, the essences, of an unguarded world.But intruders have entered Dr. Lecter’s world, piercing his new identity, sensing the evil that surrounds him. For the multimillionaire Hannibal left maimed, for a corrupt Italian policeman, and for FBI agent Clarice Starling, who once stood before Lecter and who has never been the same, the final hunt for Hannibal Lecter has begun. All of them, in their separate ways, want to find Dr. Lecter. And all three will get their wish. But only one will live long enough to savor the reward. . . .

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Hannibal Rising (2006)

He is one of the most haunting characters in all of literature. At last the evolution of his evil is revealed. Hannibal Lecter emerges from the nightmare of the Eastern Front, a boy in the snow, mute, with a chain around his neck.He seems utterly alone, but he has brought his demons with him.Hannibal’s uncle, a noted painter, finds him in a Soviet orphanage and brings him to France, where Hannibal will live with his uncle and his uncle’s beautiful and exotic wife, Lady Murasaki.Lady Murasaki helps Hannibal to heal. With her help he flourishes, becoming the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France.But Hannibal’s demons visit him and torment him. When he is old enough, he visits them in turn.He discovers he has gifts beyond the academic, and in that epiphany, Hannibal Lecter becomes death’s prodigy.

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