• A Season for the Dead

  • The Rome Series: Book 1
  • By: David Hewson
  • Narrated by: Sean Baker
  • Series: Nic Costa, Book 1
  • Length: 12 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 10-12-07
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars 3.7 (327 ratings)


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. As the August heat takes Rome in its fiery grip, the news of the 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 twenty-seven 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.
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©2003 David Hewson (P)2003 W F Howes Ltd
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Kirstine on 28-02-08

An extraordinary and gripping story

I tried this book after hearing the interview with the author, David Hewson, and hearing the first chapter on the Audible Newsletter. I wasn't disappointed. I often am filled with admiration for the ingenuity of crime writers in the novel ways they conjure up to murder people. Hewson, in this book, surpasses most in the sheer audacity of the methods used in the multiple murders he describes.
Though a long book, it never flagged and kept one gripped to the end. It's not just a crime story: the characters come to life in ones imagination.
Another reviewer disliked the use of a Lancashire accent for one of the characters. I disagree: Italy, like the UK, must have numerous regional accents and the only way to depict this for us the the UK is to use our regional variations. On a practical note the various accents helped me, at least, to keep track of the different characters-a great help in an audio book.
I intend to listen to the rest of the series as I've been hooked by this first book.

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29 of 30 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Pat on 21-06-09

An audiobook of two parts

This is an audiobook of two parts in my opinion. What I mean is you really have to separate the reading from the content. The story itself is engaging and well told. Although it may not be as well written as some of the later books in the series, it serves well to introduce us to Nic Costa and some of the vivid characters who surround him. It is the first in series of formulaic novels and there is nothing wrong with that if you get the formula right, as I must say I feel Hewson does to the most part. However the reading is awful. This novel, based in Rome bear in mind, is populated with a full array of accents from the English regions. They are all here, even occasionally straying across the borders into Wales and Scotland. The result is so incongrous as to make it hard to listen to. This is a great pity and it would be regretable if this were to discourage further interest in the Costa books as the mistake has been corrected by the next book which is read with great aplomb and appropriate accents!
I would give zero stars for the reading and four for the story so I have split the diference and given two stars to the whole. Please don't let it put you off following the series as Villa of Mysteries and the others that follow are far better presentations.

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9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Dan on 18-02-08

worth the read

David Hewson has written a series of books set in Italy. This book, A Season for the Dead, is early in the series. The author describes Detective Nic Costa as his main character but after reading the series it appears that there are several main characters each developed in each of the books. The other main characters, Leo, a Chief Inspector, Lucca killed off early and Gionni, Teresa a female pathologist and Emily, a former FBI agent turned architect are all equally interesting and as developed as Nic Costa.

The author does a good job of researching the background of the stories and placing them in familiar landmarks of Rome. While there is occasional culture confusion with a British author writing about Italian police in Rome and being read by an American, the stories usually work. This one is no exception. The villain is always one step ahead of the police and barely has time to commit the most heinous and despicable crimes. The crimes in Season all revolve around the secret and not so healthy life of an American Cardinal in the Vatican. But, if you are reading this genre, you are used to the grisly deaths and the bizarre plot turns. And David Hewson does a good job at all these things.

I would advise reading the series in the order the books were written but I didn't do it that way and it has not been a real barrier since the main characters are each developed in each book.

At the end of his last book, The Lizard Bites, there is an excellent interview with the author that helps put the entire series in better perspective.

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26 of 26 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Richard on 08-02-13

Good Book ... Horrible accents

What aspect of Sean Baker’s performance would you have changed?

The accents he affected for the various characters were horrible ... very distracting. The worst were when he voiced women. They sounded exactly like Peter Lore!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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