The Detective Nic Costa Mystery Series
A Season for the Dead
JACKET NOTES: The first in an Italian crime series set in Rome, and featuring Caravaggio-loving Detective Nic Costa.
"Stefano's left arm, the one holding the weapon, swept the table, swept everything on it... She was quiet, waiting, which was, his eyes seemed to say, what he wanted. Then Stefano lifted up the bag to the height of the desk, turned it upside down, let the contents fall on the table and said. 'The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.'"
Whilst Sara Farnese pours 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. He has something he would like her to see...
Soon Sara us 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. It seems that at any time she could be the next chosen sacrifice...
A Season for the Dead is a brilliantly plotted and atmospherically beguiling crime novel.
(© Pan Macmillan)
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. Hes 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 Hewsons 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 Costas 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. Minor characters include a lesbian parliamentarian from Bologna, an American tourist guide, an overweight TV commentator, a whore from Kosovo, and a patron of the arts with Mafia ties.
Assuming David Hewson continues with the Nic Costa character, I welcome him to the ranks of Donna Leon, Michael Dibdin, Andrea Camilleri and others who entertain us with their series of Italian mysteries.
- by Carlo Vennarucci, September 2003
The Villa of Mysteries
is #2 in the series
and will be out in the UK in March 2004.
Also see David Hewson's Suspense Thriller