Gourmand consecutive analgesic Hannibal Lecter may be off the menu, but now his creator, Thomas Harris, has added a new bowl of terror. “Cari Mora” is Harris’s aboriginal atypical back “Hannibal Rising” appeared 13 years ago. Fans of his beforehand acknowledged books — and the movies and TV shows afraid from them — will aftertaste accustomed capacity in “Cari Mora,” forth with a blow of Stieg Larsson’s “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and alike a birr of Carl Hiaasen’s Florida zaniness. But the accomplished affair would absolutely go bigger with some fava beans.
The adventure is mostly a snooze: not so abundant “The Silence of the Lambs” as The Counting of the Sheep. It opens in Biscayne Bay at a abode already endemic by the backward Colombian biologic aristocrat Pablo Escobar. After casual through the easily of playboys, filmmakers and speculators, this fabulous abode now sits unused, abounding with monster mannequins, slasher-movie props, an electric armchair from Sing Sing and article alleged “sex furniture,” which I charge ask about the abutting time I go to Ikea.
Only one being has the assumption to assignment as a babysitter of this old abode of horrors: a admirable immigrant called Cari Mora. At the age of 11, Cari was captured by insubordinate guerrillas and acclimated as a adolescent soldier. But “she was quick and able and strong,” Harris tells us, and managed to escape, admitting she charcoal acutely scarred. Now, she can accomplish a beggarly rat soup, celerity a muscled blackmailer with her crucifix chaplet and blow up her architecture on the fly. Maybe she’s built-in with it (maybe it’s Maybelline), but she’s absolutely gunning to be the abutting Lisbeth Salander.
As Cari hides from U.S. clearing agents, annihilation about Escobar’s awful abode frightens her. In fact, abreast from casual tourists, the alone bodies still absorbed in the architecture are a agglomeration of comatose abyss who doubtable a safe in the basement holds a thousand pounds of gold. While the atypical plods forth with a collection of cadaverous silliness, assorted crooks try to amount out how to accessible the safe after alarming themselves to commonwealth come. All Cari has to do is break out of their way. Despite a few shootouts, beheadings and a athirst abyssal crocodile, best of this is about as affecting as watching Geraldo Rivera beating on Al Capone’s vault.
The absolute alarm at the centermost of “Cari Mora” is declared to be a “totally hairless” German called Hans-Peter Schneider who is bent to get the gold and Cari. He’s absolutely a awful guy. As a kid, he bound his parents animate in a applicant freezer until he could blast them with an ax. Now, his specialty is amputating women’s anatomy genitalia according to the animal fetishes of his deranged audience about the world. (He does a little ancillary business in agency trafficking, too, because allegedly there are still Hannibal Lecters out there attractive for snacks.) But already a battling addendum that Hans-Peter looks like a penis cutting glasses, it’s adamantine to accost the aphotic side.
Which is the axial botheration with “Cari Mora.” Despite all its abhorrent goings-on, this age-old abstruseness consistently block on assistant peels of its own accidental ball — as admitting it craves to be “Nosferatu” but ends up like “What We Do in the Shadows.” With his accepted subtlety, Harris addendum that Hans-Peter gives off “a aroma of brimstone.” And aboriginal in the novel, Hans-Peter extols the accessibility of his best admired possession: a aqueous burial machine, which, he brags, is so abundant added ecologically affable than those bedraggled afire crematories. “The aqueous adjustment larboard no carbon footprint, or book of any kind,” Harris says like he’s channeling Mel Brooks. “If a babe did not assignment out, Hans-Peter could aloof cascade her bottomward the loo in aqueous anatomy — and with no adverse aftereffect on the groundwater.”
Even Anthony Hopkins would ache to accomplish this bleeding goofiness frightening, decidedly back Hans-Peter break into a little jingle: “Call Hans-Peter — that’s the name! — and abroad go troubles bottomward the drain!” If he anytime gets arrested, this bent administrator can consistently appeal bent inanity.
A brace of affected ancillary belief eventually advance off to nowhere, but we assuredly get a acute battle amid Hans-Peter and Cari Mora that suggests aloof how agitative the blow of this adventure could accept been. In the aforementioned way, every so often, there’s a access of absolute stylistic affluence like this description of one victim “sitting adjoin the tree, buzzards on both his amateur like the aphotic angels of his nature, bloom him with their atramentous wings while they ate the bendable genitalia of his face, his silvered basset teeth gleaming, accepting the ablaze all the time now.” I was athirst for abundant added of that lavish, gothic prose.
Toward the end of the novel, a man-eating crocodile in Biscayne Bay suffers a baby bender of indigestion while casual one of the abyss he ate. Readers of “Cari Mora” are acceptable to ache agnate but wholly acting discomfort.
Ron Charles writes about books for The Washington Post and hosts TotallyHipVideoBookReview.com.
By Thomas Harris
Grand Central. 311 pp. $29
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