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New Hannibal Lecter novel due in December

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NEW YORK (AP) -- A new Hannibal Lecter novel, originally scheduled to come out last year, will be published this December.

Thomas Harris' "Hannibal Rising," which tells of the early years of literature's most famous cannibal, is the fourth of the million-selling series that includes "The Silence of the Lambs," made into an Academy-Award winning film starring Anthony Hopkins.

The new book will have a first printing of at least 1.5 million copies.

"Now, in 'Hannibal Rising,' readers will at last learn of Lecter's beginnings and will see the evolution of his evil," Irwyn Applebaum, president and publisher of the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, said Tuesday in a statement.

Harris' novel was originally titled "Behind the Mask" and was supposed to come out in the fall of 2005. Applebaum declined comment when asked by The Associated Press why the book took longer than expected, saying, "Sometimes, that's how the process works."

Harris was simultaneously writing the screenplay for a film version of "Hannibal Rising," due in early 2007.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Anthony Hopkins has played Hannibal Lecter in three films.

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