Lecter is a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer. In The Silence of the Lambs, feature Lecter as one of two primary antagonists. In the third novel, Hannibal, Lecter becomes the main character. His role as protagonist continues into the fourth novel, Hannibal Rising, which explores his childhood and development into a serial killer.
Hannibal Lecter is described as being small and sleek, and with wiry strength in his arms. In The Silence of the Lambs it is revealed that Lecter's left hand has the condition called mid ray duplication sexdactyly, or his left hand has an extra digit; a duplicated middle finger. In Hannibal, he has since had his extra digit removed, while Hannibal Rising makes no mention of this physical abnormality.
Lecter's eyes are shade of maroon, and reflect the light in "pinpoints of red". He is also said to have small white teeth and dark hair.
Hannibal Lecter has numerous interests that come to light, including psychiatry (his profession prior to incarceration), medicine and physiology, cooking ('The Joy of Cooking' being one of the books in his cell), art (being a skilled artist in his own right), and music. (He is notably fond of Bach's Goldberg Variations, performed by Glenn Gould. Also being adept at Mandolin and Piano)
In Red Dragon, we learn that he is a brilliant psychiatrist who is incarcerated after he is revealed to be a cannibalistic serial killer. Lecter spends his time during his incarceration writing articles for medical journals.
Red Dragon was a best seller, which depicted Special Agent Will Graham consulting Lecter on catching a serial killer known only to law enforcement and media as "The Tooth Fairy". Will Graham was the agent who captured Lecter and incarcerated him. Some years later, Lecter assisted a rookie FBI Agent named Clarice Starling on catching a killer known only as Buffalo Bill. Lecter only exploits the killer's weaknesses upon Starling telling him about her childhood demons. Lecter develops a romantic interest in Starling, and he escapes from eight years of incarceration during a transfer to another facility.
In Hannibal, which took place seven years after the end of Silence of the Lambs, Lecter is found to be residing in Florence, Italy and is attempting to be captured by one of his vengeful surviving victims named Mason Verger. Lecter returns to the United States and is captured by Verger, only to be rescued by Starling.
In the end, Starling attempting to apprehend Lecter. Lecter escapes from Starling's custody after revealing to Starling that he loved her.
The preceding sentence was an observation taken from the MOVIE "Hannibal," which was given a typical Hollywood ending, by altering the entire nature of Lecters and Starling's relationship.
As the plot evolved in the published Novel, "Hannibal," however, Dr. Lecter and Clarice flee from the approaching law enforcement and travel the globe together as companions and lovers. It is revealed that he spent years anticipating his eventual capture by hiding funds throughout the world...all in preparation for any escape opportunity that presented itself to him.