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A Season for the Dead [Kindle Edition]

David Hewson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $6.99
Kindle Price: $5.98
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In a hushed Vatican reading room, the scene was shocking: a crazed professor shot dead after brandishing evidence of a grisly crime. Moments later, two bodies are found in a nearby church, each with a gruesome calling card from the killer. Thus begins David Hewson's elegant and electrifying new novel. Set amidst a bizarre killing spree in modern Rome, it is a bewitching blend of history and drama, sensuality and suspense.

As the August heat takes Rome in its fiery grip, the news of two brutal murders holds the city in thrall. And as the media gathers and Vatican officials close ranks, a young detective is sent to the forefront of the case. Nic Costa is the son of an infamous Italian Communist, a connoisseur of Caravaggio , and a cop who barely looks his 27 years of age. Thrust into the heart of a killing spree that will rattle his city down to its ancient bones, Nic meets a woman who will soon dominate both his consciousness and his investigation.

A cool, beautiful professor of early Christianity, Sara Farnese was in the Vatican library on that fateful day, a witness to her colleague's strange outburst and death. But her role will become even more puzzling as more bodies are found: Each victim killed in a gory tableau of Christian martyrdom. And each victim had intimately known Sara, whose silence Costa cannot quite crack and whose carnal history becomes more lurid and unfathomable with every revelation.

Soon, a nightmarish chase is implicating politicians and priests -- while at the heart of the matter remains the woman Costa is both investigating and guarding. Wanting to believe in Sara's innocence, Nic still cannot turn his eyes from the truths he is uncovering. Even as the secrets of a woman, a killer and a city begin to unravel...with devastating consequences.

A beguiling mystery, a dazzling treat for the senses, and a fascinating tour of the streets and alleyways of Rome, Nic Costa's relentlessly suspenseful debut is a masterpiece of suspense fiction.?

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

U.K. novelist and journalist Hewson (Solstice) presents the first in a line of thrillers set in Italy and features detective Nic Costa and an ensemble cast drawn from the ranks of the Rome state police. University professor Sara Farnese is at her desk in the Reading Room of the Vatican Library perusing a 10th-century copy of Apicius's first-century cookbook De Re Coquinaria when former lover and fellow university professor Stefano Rinaldi careens into the room dragging a large plastic bag. Rinaldi dumps the contents of the bagâ€"the freshly flayed skin of an adult maleâ€"and quotes the Christian theologian, Tertullian ("The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church"), then takes a couple of bullets in the head from a panic-stricken Swiss Guard. Detective Costa and partner Luca Rossi are outside the Vatican in St. Peter's Square on pickpocket patrol when they catch the news of the shooting on a police scanner, charge into the Reading Room and are quickly kicked out by security man Brendan Hanrahan for jurisdictional reasons ("The Vatican is another country"). Rossi and Costa become officially involved when the skinless remains of Sara's lover and the body of Rinaldi's wife are found strung up in an ancient Roman church. After this rousing beginning, the intricate plot spins off in several directions, involving corrupt cardinal Michael Denney, the Mafia, Vatican secrecy and the serial killer who's murdering Sara's former lovers in ways that mimic famous paintings depicting the martyrdom of selected saints. Outsized, eccentric characters, a complex story and an abundance of historical detail make this engrossing book more than just another cookie-cutter, religious-nut serial killer thriller.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Richly enjoyable, sophisticated and beguiling entertainment."
--Sunday Times

"Keeps the reader guessing...relentlessly tightening the suspense until the end."
--Daily Telegraph?

"Engrossing... a complex story and an abundance of historical detail."
--Publishers Weekly

"An idealistic detective ... Likeable Nic exudes series potential."
--Kirkus Reviews

A Season for the Dead, like The Da Vinci Code, is a thriller that takes an unflattering look at the Catholic Church, but it is better written and more sophisticated than Dan Brown's phenomenal bestseller… The books differ, too, in that Hewson, far more than Brown or most thriller writers, has a serious concern for character.”
--Washington Post

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 485 KB
  • Print Length: 496 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385337221
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (March 30, 2004)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1B24
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,315 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good and compelling read April 4, 2004
By tregatt
The first novel in a series that is to feature police detective Nic Costa, "A Season for the Dead" proved to be a swiftly paced, taut, police thriller that kept me happily engrossed until I reached the last page.
While the August heat wave bakes the city of Rome (and the few locals left in the city), university professor Sara Farenese sits coolly in the Vatican Library Reading Room perusing Apicius. But unexpected violence soon rocks her remote academic world when a colleague, Stefano Rinaldi, bursts into the room with a gun and a bag. Even as Sara watches, horrorstruck, Stefano flings the contents of the bag on her desk, announces that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church," and is killed by the panic stricken Swiss Guards. But this is just the first in a series of increasingly horrifically violent murders. Hampered by Vatican politics (the Vatican is treated as a separate country and as such the Roman police have no jurisdiction there and are totally dependent on whatever help -- or non-help -- that the Vatican security will give) the police are hard pressed to figure what's going on and stop the mad killer. For young police detective Nic Costa and his partner, Luca Rossi, first at the scene of Rinaldi's death due to happenstance, this is the case that will change their lives and outlooks forever. Moved by Sara's beauty, remoteness and silent anguish, Nic is further drawn to Sara (much to the dismay of Rossi) when the realization dawns that she is somehow at the center of all the madness that is going on. But Sara refuses to be more forthcoming, and Nic is loathe to push her or to believe the worst. Will he have cause to regret his reluctance? What dark secret is Sara hiding, and how will it impact the investigation?
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taut crime / thriller June 23, 2004
By saliero
I very much enjoyed this book. It will appeal to and be sought out by readers of series crime novels set in vividly depicted locations. Readers of Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series, which features another Rome-based cop, Donna Leon's Inspector Brunetti, and Barbara Nadel's Istanbul cop, Inspector Ikmen should enjoy this as well.
The identity of the killer is unknown to the reader for about the first half of the book. It is then revealed to the reader, so in that sense there is no last-page denoument. However, there are other mysteries around motivation that propel the mystery forward and keep the reader guessing til (almost) the end!
If you are squeamish about fairly graphic depictions of violence you may not be as drawn to this book. I compare it to some of the scenes in, for example, Carol O'Connell's 'Killing Critics', featuring New York cop Mallory.
Hewson manages to depict a sense of place very successfully, so Rome assumes an identity as a 'character' alongside the human protagonists. Anyone with an interest in the art of Caravaggio will be equally enthralled, as Nic Costa, the young main character cop, is an afficianado. There is some vivid imagery involving several of the paintings of that 17th century Roman 'badboy'.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Premier Novel to the Nic Costa Series February 5, 2005
A SEASON FOR THE DEAD is the first in a series of Italian crime thrillers set in Rome featuring Nic Costa as the protagonist. Costa, 27, is an atypical detective in the Rome Questura. He's a straight-laced, health conscious vegetarian and son of an infamous Communist party political organizer, who is dying. He has a passion for the works of Caravaggio.

Things get off to a fast start with a grotesque double homicide in a Roman church with strong similarities to an historic martyr killing within the early Church. Because the victims had ties to beautiful university professor Sara Farnese, she is put under the protective police custody of young Costa. As the plot unfolds with more similar deaths, there is a frantic search for the heinous serial killer who appears to have ties to the Vatican. The Vatican connection is difficult to investigate because of the turf battles between the Questura and the Vatican authorities. The locations used within Rome are off the tourist track and give the reader a better understanding of the underbelly of this great city. The novel is fast moving and exciting with lots of violence and some sex; and there are some unexpected surprises near the end. It brought back memories of Hewson's first novel SEMANA SANTA.

Hewson has created an exceptional array of supporting characters, albeit a few too many were non-Italians. Within the Questura, there is Costa's new partner, Luca Rossi and their hard-nosed boss Leo Falcone. Falcone is disliked by everyone, but is honest and determined. Terese Lupo, the police pathologist, is one very busy lady as the death toll mounts. Within the Vatican, we meet security head Brendan Hanrahan and Cardinal Denney, who has been recently disgraced due to the failure of his corrupt Banca Lombardia.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Literate, compelling, just short of paradise October 17, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
David Hewson's first book in what promises to be a rewarding series is literate and compelling. The only problem I had with it is the character of Sara Farnese, who, as the book unfolds, turns out to be more and more a character molded by the needs of the plot and less and less plausible as a humn being. That's a shame, but the other characters become more and more human, vivid, plausible, and impressive. I immediately began the second volume of the series, and will read any further installments as they appear.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars vI like all of David Hewson's works
vI like all of David Hewson's works. His Ric thrillers takers on a tour of Rome you will never forget. Now reading his other series The Killing, based on the tv series.
Published 4 months ago by Linda M. Young
5.0 out of 5 stars Artful Mystery in Rome
Excellent murder mystery. We know who did it fairly early on, but the complexities of how and why maintain interest in the plot. Read more
Published 4 months ago by KRob
3.0 out of 5 stars Déjà vu... not very original.
The year 2003 saw the appearance of Dan Brown's second novel featuring his Robert Langdon character (`The Da Vinci Code' however was the first to be published) and the resultant... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Enrico Grafitti
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I like getting a feel for how things work in Rome. Nic Costa's character is likable.
Published 7 months ago by Norma Schantz
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series. If you haven't tried this one yet
Great series. If you haven't tried this one yet, do it. Nic Costa is an Italian detective with a great group of sidekicks that get into some real interesting situations in Italy.
Published 7 months ago by Aleta Payne
3.0 out of 5 stars ... start but once it got going it was a good read. I will try the...
A slow start but once it got going it was a good read. I will try the next in the series.
Published 7 months ago by Brian Lewis
4.0 out of 5 stars Holy Murders in Rome
Fast paced detective novel set in Rome. Gruesome murders but a twisty plot. Worth reading as part of a series.
Published 8 months ago by felicity
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
This is the second book I've read by David Hewson and whilst I really enjoyed it, it didn't quite have the twists and turns that Lucifer's Shadow did. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mishymoo
3.0 out of 5 stars Everything But the Kitchen Sink
Perhaps we are talking about Byzantine rites here. This could be described as a roller coaster of a thriller with a few unfortunate stops. Read more
Published 16 months ago by propertius
3.0 out of 5 stars Eh
I wasn't crazy about this book but it was okay. I felt like it had potential but didn't quite make it there. The storyline didn't make complete sense either. Read more
Published 18 months ago by easwim
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More About the Author

David Hewson's novels have been translated into a wide range of languages, from Italian to Japanese, and his debut work, Semana Santa, set in Holy Week Spain, was filmed with Mira Sorvino. Dante's Numbers is his thirteenth published novel.

David was born in Yorkshire in 1953 and left school at the age of seventeen to work as a cub reporter on one of the smallest evening newspapers in the country in Scarborough. Eight years later he was a staff reporter on The Times in London, covering news, business and latterly working as arts correspondent. He worked on the launch of the Independent and was a weekly columnist for the Sunday Times for a decade before giving up journalism entirely in 2005 to focus on writing fiction.

Semana Santa won the WH Smith Fresh Talent award for one of the best debut novels of the year in 1996 and was later made into a movie starring Mira Sorvino and Olivier Martinez. Four standalone works followed before A Season for the Dead, the first in a series set in Italy. The seventh Roman novel featuring Nic Costa and his colleagues, Dante's Numbers, appeared in October 2008. At the end of 2006 he signed renewed contracts with Pan Macmillan in the UK and Bantam Dell in the US to extend the series to nine books, running to 2012. The titles are published in numerous languages around the world including Chinese and Japanese... and Italian.

He has featured regularly on the speaker lists of leading international book events, including the Melbourne and Ottawa writers' festivals, the Harrogate Crime Festival, Thrillerfest, Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime. He has taught at writing schools around the world and is a regular faculty member for the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference in Corte Madera, California, where he has worked alongside writers such as Martin Cruz Smith and Michael Connelly.

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