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A Season for the Dead (Nic Costa Mysteries 1) Paperback – 5 Aug 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New Edit/Cover edition (5 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033054568X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330545686
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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. There are now nine Costa titles published in numerous languages around the world including Chinese and Japanese... and Italian.

David followed these books with three acclaimed adaptations of the award-winning Copenhagen TV crime series The Killing. In 2014 he debuted a new series set in Amsterdam with The House of Dolls. With A.J. Hartley he has also authored two popular adaptations of Shakespeare's Macbeth and Hamlet, originally for audio now out in ebook.

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.

Product Description


The first in a promising Italian crime series set in Rome, and featuring Caravaggio-loving detective Nic Costa. Whilst Sara Farnese pouts over ancient texts in the silent Vatican reading room, a brutal murder is taking place in a nearby church. Then suddenly a crazed man enters the Vatican carrying a bloodied bag. He walks up to Sara's desk, with something he would like her to see. Soon Sara is inextricably linked to a series of horrific and cunning murders, each one representative of the death of a martyr of the church. Into this climate enter detectives Costa and Rossi, enlisted to track down the killer and to protect Sara from the horrors he is capable of. Hewson's way with the Roman milieu is as cutting edge as his adroit narrative. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A shooting in the silent Vatican reading room. And the worst is yet to come . . .

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Carlo Vennarucci on 5 Nov. 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's always a great pleasure to come across a well-written, intelligent crime book and to know that it's only the first of a series.

Young detective Nic Costa is first on the scene when a man is shot dead by Vatican security guards. Had he been about to shoot himself or murder his ex-lover, historian Sara Farnese? Nic is drawn into a complex plot involving banking, corruption, Vatican politics...and a lot of increasingly gruesome murders. There is a further complication for Nic when he finds himself falling for the enigmatic Sara.

Although the plot moves along at a fair pace, the author also takes time to let us get to know Nic. As the novel starts, he is still a little naïve and idealistic but gradually he comes to recognise that people are not always what they seem. We meet his father, Marco, a communist and atheist, who has clearly been a huge influence on Nic's life and beliefs but who is now dying. This strand of the book is handled very well, never toppling over into sentimentality or mawkishness.

The Roman setting for the novel added an extra element of interest. Hewson painted a vivid picture of a tourist-filled city baking in the summer heat and of the simmering resentments between the Roman police and the autonomous Vatican state.

A very enjoyable read. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By F.R. Jameson on 27 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
I've not read `The Da Vinci Code', but given its immense success, I suppose that we can all expect lots of other thrillers to emerge which lean on strange and dodgy dealings in the Vatican. Not that this is a bad book, it's entertaining as long as you don't think about it too much, and certainly feels more of a book - and not a cinema script in waiting - than some of its ilk. If and when they adapt this one for the cinema (or if the BBC gets another Wallander sized hole in its schedule) then it will actually require the script writer to do a bit of thinking to get there. He or she just won't spend a morning cutting and pasting before going off to the pub.

In Rome a serial killer strikes, killing the various lovers of a beautiful young women in much the same way as the early saints were martyred. But how is this killer connected to the beautiful young woman, and what does it have to do with the corrupt Cardinal hidden away in Vatican City? It's up to young, slim-hipped and cerebral cop, Nick Costa, to work it out.

One of the big twists I guessed quite early on in the proceedings, but this was still a divertingly gruesome and interesting read. How long it will live in the memory I don't know, but if I do ever come across the sequel so obviously set-up at the end, then I'd certainly pick it up for a look.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Rory Morty on 16 Oct. 2005
Format: Paperback
This is an enchanting and exciting mystery/thriller set in Rome. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and look forward to the coming sequel. The story is set around a series of bizarre and seemingly unlinked murders that take place throughout the city of Rome. Each murder is staged to resemble the martyrdom of one of the Catholic saints. The murders are initially investigated by detectives Costa and Rossi, from the Roman police. Gradually, it emerges that all of the victims have in common with one another some form of liaison with one of the lead characters, Professor Sara Farnese. But there is much more to come. Any more details from there on would be plot spoilers!
The story is liberally laced with evidence of corruption and cover-ups in the Catholic Church, and the Vatican. This theme is currently extensively explored the popular fiction category, however, this does not detract at all from ones enjoyment of the story. There are certain similarities to themes from Dan Brown's ANGELS AND DEMONS, however, these are two very different stories. I did feel through, that the descriptions of Rome and Roman churches were better handled by Brown. I particularly liked the theme of Caravaggio's paitings, which was woven into the storyline of A SEASON FOR THE DEAD; as well as the playful banter between the two lead detectives. My only real criticism of the story concerns the character development of Gino Fosse, one of the lead characters. We don't seem to know him at all, while we seem to know Costa, Rossi, Farnese and others very well by the end of the book. But, perhaps that was what the author intended? Three-and-a-half stars from me.
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