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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His Best and Finest To Date
Once again David Hewson transports his readers to the magical city of Venice, Italy. It is Teresa Lupo, Chief Forensic Pathologist for the Questura in Rome who takes the lead on this occasion whilst colleagues Falcone, Peroni and Costa are on secret assignment.
Lupo has travelled to Venice to look for her Aunt Sofia who has mysteriously disappeared, leaving little...
Published on 13 Nov. 2011 by tontowilliams

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Deadly Boring
"Carnival for the Dead" by David Hewson was a major disappointment. I've read two of his other books in the Nic Costa series, one I liked a great deal, the other so-so. But it will be a long time before I read a fourth. The major attraction for me was Venice, where the story takes place, and this alone merits the 2 stars. Lots of detailed descriptions of the city, major...
Published on 8 April 2012 by Kenneth C. Mahieu


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His Best and Finest To Date, 13 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Carnival for the Dead (Hardcover)
Once again David Hewson transports his readers to the magical city of Venice, Italy. It is Teresa Lupo, Chief Forensic Pathologist for the Questura in Rome who takes the lead on this occasion whilst colleagues Falcone, Peroni and Costa are on secret assignment.
Lupo has travelled to Venice to look for her Aunt Sofia who has mysteriously disappeared, leaving little explanation as to why, or her current whereabouts. It is the time of the Carnival, as Teresa tries to find her Aunt, and a series of events unfold that lead the reader on a tableau of adventure across the great city of islands, and where those dressed in Carnival costume may not be all they appear to be.

This is the tenth novel in the "Costa" series, and the third time that David Hewson has taken us to Venice (The Lizard's Bite & The Cemetery of Secrets, being the other two, and it is nice to see some homage to both of those novels within the pages of this latest one).

It is rare that a book makes me change my plans or keeps me reading up late into the night these days, but Carnival for the Dead has done both of those things over the last three days. Keeping me turning the pages and setting the standard for crime novels, this story unfolds a tale of mystery, history and culture set in one of the worlds great cities.

The history is well researched and the author manages to weave the history and culture into the pages, bringing the story to life. It brings a depth and colour to the pages that it is easy to picture oneself in the great city, with the same sights, sounds and smells as the characters on the pages.

David Hewson is a master storyteller, and this book is no exception, it is one of his best and finest to date and this series has been getting better and better.

If you are looking for a great story, and want to transport yourself to another place, then I strongly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Historical Mystery, 9 Oct. 2012
By 
Marleen (Cavan, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Carnival for the Dead (Paperback)
I actually rated this book 4.5 stars.

"Sometimes a mask is there to fool others. Sometimes to fool oneself."

Forensic pathologist Teresa Lupo has travelled from Rome to Venice to look into the disappearance of her beloved and rather bohemian aunt Sofia. It is February, and in cold and wintery Venice the Carnival is in full swing. When Teresa and her mother, shortly after arriving in town, are met by a mysterious man dressed in the costume of the Plague Doctor, complete with the horrible, long nosed mask, Teresa starts suspecting that her missing aunt may be in trouble. A visit to Sofia's apartment only deepens Teresa's suspicions and when her mother returns to Rome, the pathologist stays behind and takes up lodgings in her aunts rooms, determined to discover where her aunt is and why she disappeared. A letter, hand delivered to the apartment and addressed to Teresa turns out to contain a story featuring both her and her aunt as well as an English professor Teresa has never heard of before. When she wants to have another look at the strange story the next day, Teresa discovers that the words have disappeared from the pages and the mystery deepens further. With the police unable and unwilling to look into the disappearance of a grown and independent woman while the Carnival is going on, it is up to Teresa to try and figure out what is going on. Further stories are delivered to Teresa and while on the surface they appear to have little or nothing to do with her missing aunt, the pathologist is convinced that they must hold clues to her aunt's fate. But who is writing these stories? Is it Sofia herself, is it one of her friends or is it someone else altogether, someone Teresa doesn't know but who seems to know her and her actions very well? And how do a little white dog and Carpaccio's paintings tie into the mystery? The scientific minded Teresa will have to learn to use and trust her imagination and intuition if she is going to discover what happened to her aunt. And while she's at it she has to stay safe and alive.

This is a wonderful mystery and a powerful thriller. It is also, possibly, something more than that. The story starts of slowly and without any real urgency. Yes, Sofia has disappeared, but she has done so before and has always turned up later, unharmed and unaware of any worry she may have caused. Surely this could be more of the same? Except that it slowly becomes clear to Teresa and the reader that this disappearance is different. There is indeed something or someone out in Venice who is determined to find and harm Sofia as well as others who might get in their way. The danger creeps up both on the characters in the book and on the reader until, near the end of the book, it all explodes in violence.

Venice during Carnival is the perfect setting for this book. The place is described as both fascinating and scary. The bright parties on the streets are contrasted by the dark and deserted alleys that more often than not turn out to be dead-ended. The cold of winter creeps not just into the character's bones, it also affects the reader as the story becomes ever chillier.

David Hewson writes wonderful books. His characters are well formed and are true individuals. Nobody in this book is described in terms of black and white. Everybody is nuanced which makes them interesting as characters and the story more fascinating. His descriptions of Venice are wonderful. I could see the city during Carnival almost as clearly as if I had been there just as I could feel the danger lurking in dark corners and appreciate the beauty of the brighter places.

The ending of this book doesn't provide clear cut answers to every question the story poses. It is up to the reader to decide whether or not there are some supernatural powers at play here. Is the impossible actually happening, or is Teresa right to dismiss it all as one man's madness? And while a somewhat open ending could be frustrating when reading a mystery, in this book it worked perfectly. I really like the "what-if" David Hewson left me with and I know I will enjoy pondering it for the next few days.

"The wisdom of dogs is to remind us of our own arrogance and stupidity in believing tomorrow may somehow prove more precious than today."
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4.0 out of 5 stars La Serenissima Surrealistica: Venice Phantasmagorical, 16 July 2012
By 
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Carnival for the Dead (Paperback)
As a thriller "Carnival for the Dead" will appeal to lovers of the most serene city of Venezia and its illustrious history of art. I confess to being such, and I found a mystery that hinges on the paintings of Victor Carpaccio, the Venetian renaissance master, especially intriguing.

I enjoyed author Hewson's in-depth analyses of Carpaccio's Saint Augustine in his study with his little white dog, and the cycle of the martyrdom of Saint Ursula. However, I am not certain that every reader will be as appreciative. Nor may some readers welcome the author's interrupting his suspenseful narrative with lengthy 'fictional' episodes, which provide clues to Teresa Lupo, the Roman pathologist, who has taken leave from the Questura of Rome to search for her missing aunt Sophia in the midst of Carnival, Venice's annual tourist-glutted masked festival in the dead of winter before the onset of Lent. These episodes disturb the equilibrium of the reader as much as they are intended to disturb that of Teresa.

In one of the most revealing passages of "Carnival for the Dead," David Hewson writes: "Everyone's Venice is different. Where you see antiquity, I see squalor. Where another marvels at beauty a second turns away in horror at some gross, naked display of poor taste" [444-45]. In a way, Mr Hewson has epitomised his "Carnival for the Dead". Just as Venezia, with its shimmering reflections and constant play of light and shadow, seems to blur the boundaries between reality and illusion, so Mr Hewson blurs the boundaries of his narrative between gruesome realism and supernatural fantasy. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish the former from the latter.

A book to be savored with an -ombra- of wine, and a plate of delicious -cicchetti- at a Venetian wine bar. But perhaps not during Carnival.

Reviewed for Vine; Amazon.com
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Deadly Boring, 8 April 2012
By 
Kenneth C. Mahieu (McLean, VA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Carnival for the Dead (Paperback)
"Carnival for the Dead" by David Hewson was a major disappointment. I've read two of his other books in the Nic Costa series, one I liked a great deal, the other so-so. But it will be a long time before I read a fourth. The major attraction for me was Venice, where the story takes place, and this alone merits the 2 stars. Lots of detailed descriptions of the city, major landmarks, back alleys, Carnival, vaporetto (water taxis), a good bit of art history, and of course, the citizenry "I'm not Italian, I'm Venetian". But that's it. The mystery in this story is very lame, it's resolution incredibly boring. The story hinges on Arnaud aka The Count of Saint-Germain, born 400-500 years ago who somehow still survives, offering heroine Teresa advice on the case and on life, and at the conclusion explains in a 20 page closing dialog what the case was all about, tidying up all the loose ends. Teresa is a forensic pathologist working with Nic and team in Rome; she has come to Venice to find her missing aunt. The chapters are interlaced with short stories from a mysterious source, but they are even more dull than the investigation. Wish I had quit this book back at pages 50-100 when it became obvious this wasn't for me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Venice in February - and a mysterious disappearance, 11 April 2014
It is Venice in February. Teresa Lupo and her mother have received a strange communication from Teresa's aunt who lives in Venice. It seems like a cry for help. Alighting from the vaporetta, they step straight into a mystery: Sofia is nowhere to be found, The only clues are a series of puzzling manuscripts that keep arriving in the post.

At 450 pages, this is a longer and more complex read than the standard thriller and will probably satisfy a more demanding reader, although some parts were a bit laboured and could test the patience of some.

For me, it was an enjoyable read but not a spectacular one. It is quite atmospheric with regard to Venice, but as I have never been, I've no idea how representative that might be. I didn't really enjoy the characters, until the end, when they all took their masks off, but did enjoy the plot.

Would I recommend it - if you like atmospheric mysteries, give it a go for a bit of entertaining escapism or a relaxing read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 20 April 2013
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The plot certainly keeps you guessing. It conjures up a very different Venice from the beautiful place usually shown in most novels
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bellisimo, 12 Feb. 2013
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Loved it for its intrigue and Venetian locations. A good read for lovers of Venice. Felt I was walking. Around the city as I read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Strange book, 20 Dec. 2012
By 
F. Whitham - See all my reviews
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I did read this one and it was ok, have tried one or two others by the same author, unfortunately they are not my favourite.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good detective work in a fabulous city., 25 July 2014
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This review is from: Carnival for the Dead (Paperback)
As someone who fell in love with Venice even before going there by reading Jan Morris , I try to read every book by a good writer about the city.. Particularly good is Donna Leon. I also read David Hewson,s books about Rome and love them, so this was a particular treat
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4.0 out of 5 stars Different but good, 5 Nov. 2014
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Completely different from the Nic Costa books which I enjoy and I did find the plot a bit convoluted but I enjoyed it in the end as David Hewson's characterisation is just brilliant. Can't Wait for the next Costa book.
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Carnival for the Dead
Carnival for the Dead by David Hewson (Paperback - 5 Jan. 2012)
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