Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Season for the Dead (Nic Costa, #1)” as Want to Read:
A Season for the Dead (Nic Costa, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Season for the Dead

(Nic Costa #1)

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  2,028 ratings  ·  181 reviews
In a hushed Vatican Reading Room, the scene is 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 their killer.

Detective Nic Costa is one of the first on the scene. A cop who barely looks his twenty-seven years, Nic soon meets a woman who will
Paperback, 496 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Dell (first published 2003)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Season for the Dead, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Season for the Dead

Julius Caesar by William ShakespeareI, Claudius by Robert GravesClaudius the God and His Wife Messalina by Robert GravesThe First Man in Rome by Colleen McCulloughTitus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
Books Set in Rome
180 books — 64 voters
A Room with a View by E.M. ForsterThe Birth of Venus by Sarah DunantUnder the Tuscan Sun by Frances MayesThe Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Reading Italy
399 books — 183 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,028 ratings  ·  181 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Season for the Dead (Nic Costa, #1)
Aug 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: regrets
It's rare that I neglect to finish a book. I usually do plenty of homework first, choosing books that are highly recommended and/or have subject matter of interest to me.

For this reason, my star-ratings are usually at least a three. I enjoy most of what I read because I'm selective about what I do read.

Perhaps I chose too quickly with this one. I assumed that the Vatican Archives setting would give way to a dense, literary mystery of the Donna Tartt or Ruiz Zafon variety.

Instead, I was treated
This book is about a policeman working in Rome and as we get to know him he is not very sympathetic his "mentor"seems to be a better man. Nic Costa opens the door when a Historian Sara Farnese gets assaulted in the Vatican archives but the assailant kills himself and leaves behind a human skin. This sets something in motion where the Roman cops are up against a man who does kill people in the same way certain Saints where violently killed and became martyrs.
There is a Vatican Cardinal in
Nov 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Sep 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is the first in a series featuring Nic Costa and Inspector Falcone. Sara Faranese is studying in the Vatican library when a colleague rushes in and frankly whispers, "In the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." He then displays a pistol and a bag containing the skin of a human being. Fearing for her safety a Swiss guard shoots him dead, much to Sara's consternation, because she realized he wasn't trying to kill her, but to convey a message. Realizing that the flayed skin may ...more
Bev Taylor
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
welcome to the vatican and rome. here it is full of corruption in all forms and types - a way of life

sara is in the reading room of the vatican where she has quite a unique privilege when an ex-lover and friend walks up to her with a bloodied bag and a a message

so begins a series of horrifying and cunning murders, each symbolizing the death of a christian martyr

and the link appears to be sara - or is it? enter nic costa and his older partner rossi to try and track down the killer and also
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carolyn Rose
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
a who-can-you-trust? thriller.
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

My full review:

I recently read Diana Peterfreund’s Rampant, which is also set in Rome; in fact one of the prime reasons why I read it was because of its setting. I was pleasantly surprised that it did not make any glaring errors in its depiction of the city, but that was mainly accomplished by being rather vague in its details. This was not the case with A Season For The Dead. Mr Hewson has obviously spent a great deal of time in Rome and has
May 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is the first of a series. My sister in England sent the entire series to me and suggested I read them so, being the good brother that I am, I started with #1 in the series.

Now that I have finished this first book, I can tell you I should have paid more attention to the first 200 pages. As art (paintings) is not necessarily my thing, my mind wandered as I started reading "A Season for the Dead". BIG mistake! If you choose to read this book, you should make yourself focus from the very
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
When in Rome…

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
Sally Edsall
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, italy, fiction
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
Dec 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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. A Season for the Dead, if sometimes blissfully over the top, is intelligent entertainmentReview:
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
Italo Italophiles
Jan 31, 2014 rated it did not like it
The writing style reminds me of John Le Carre because of the omniscient narrator who creeps inside the minds of even the sickest characters. But Hewson takes it further, and puts us, at times, even into the minds of the murder victims as they die, which is disgusting.

Read the full and illustrated review at Italophile Book Reviews
Jan 11, 2011 added it
Shelves: did-not-finish, 2011
Got to about page 100 and then put it down. Unfortunately, I didn't get the urge to pick this book up again. While I found it mildly interesting, it just didn't have that I-got-to-get-back-to-my-book appeal. Plus, it was a bit on the graphic side and I prefer my murders less descriptive. But I enjoyed the way the author writes, just didn't care for the story.
Nov 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: series, mysteries
Oh my. Not sure how to describe this convoluted plot. Set in Italy. Young cop investigates a series of grizzly murders. Strange sexual element. Catholicism. High finance. Basically, I think, one bad guy died, a couple of good guys died, and a few got away. Unsatisfying ending.
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Italian mystery fans; puzzles
I read this book first and found it compelling from beginning to end. The use of Rome is far more than backdrop, it is part of the story itself. There are some horrors in this book, and they keep you on the edge of your seat. I love the Nic Costa series.
Sharon Mensing
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Murders based on the deaths of martyrs are committed near the Vatican. The characters were totally unconvincing and the Roman setting was unrealized. There wasn’t even much info about the Vatican. I finished this only because it was for a book discussion.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
A trusted source recommended author DAVID HEWSON who writes the Nic Costa series. The first book in that series is titled A SEASON FOR THE DEAD.

In this opening novel, we meet Nic Costa, a police detective in 21st century Rome, Italy. He is in his late 20s, is single and has been assigned a new partner, Luca Rossi. He is an expert on paintings by Caravaggio.

Luca is an overweight, older, senior homicide detective. Their new partnership gets off to a rocky start with neither guy respecting the
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, action
I have conflicted feelings about this book. Maybe my biggest beef with this it is that it isn't the book I wanted it to be, which is hardly fair, but there you have it.

On the one hand, I loved the descriptions of Rome and its history, to the extent that I wish the novel had focused more on those elements and less on, well, gruesome murder descriptions. On the other hand, I didn't really care for the characters or the plot? I was expecting a meaty story about an ancient organization causing
Cindy Lauren
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book, despite the horrifying violence.

There are complex characters, the several police detectives, and the high level church officers that all have secrets and first, second and third agendas.
A dramatic killing in a very unlikely place sets the tone - the bodies continue to pile up. in terrible fashion. An unlikely police partnership begins the follow the case. As it winds among family members, untangling relationships becomes really revealing both both the good guys and
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Although I enjoyed the theme of the novel I lost a little interest in it due to too many references to street names and tourist places in Rome. I also felt the characters were not well rounded enough for me. I also became a little confused as to who was pulling whose strings and who was in the pay of who. However, it was definitely a page turner and I had no problem finishing it although the ending was a little weak and tied up too neatly for my liking. I will read more by Henson but will expect ...more
Moshe Mikanovsky
Definitely not the best detective book out there and definitely not better than The Da Vinci Code - can’t even compare. I still liked the settings and evil murderer and young detective who still have to learn so much. Although the author is British and the story is in Rome, the story felt too American. Not very authentic.
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was thoroughly impressed with this book. It has everything--suspense, Italy, art, a serial killer, intrigue, the Vatican, Italian cops (handsome and others), interesting characters like Crazy Theresa, the pathologist...what more could you want? Very suspenseful and did not see the end coming. Just how I like my suspense/mystery/crime novels. HIGHLY recommend.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it
A mystery with lots of twists and turns to the plot. The reader cannot be sure why the murderer is doing these gruesome and gory murders nor who is pulling the murderers strings and why. A deeply disturbing plot but one that keeps the reader motivated to know the reasoning behind it all.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
A mystery, but not a great story. Too many bizarre, inexplicable things happened, even after explanations were given. The main character was likeable, but motivations were iffy. Set in the Vatican, martyred saints.
Polly Johnsen
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Found this book disappointing; murders were gruesome and motivations were unconvincing.
Sharon Dillon
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Actually 3 1/2 stars, but I rounded it up to 4 because of the Carravaggio references.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
i loved this series and its almost like an art lesson in the way that da vinci code was about the churches of rome. great stories and this is the first of several books. loved this.
Stephen Lewis
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Neat, linear police procedural with some 2 standard deviation personalities and one 4 standard deviation personality. Great audio book fodder.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
English Translati...: David Hewson - A Season for the Dead - Italy 2 8 Nov 20, 2019 09:23AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Only We Know
  • Raising Atlantis (Conrad Yeats Adventure #1)
  • La música de las esferas
  • Harry potter y la piedra filosofal
  • The Brazen Bride (Black Cobra Quartet, #3)
  • The Reckless Bride (Black Cobra Quartet, #4)
  • Dregs (William Wisting, #6)
  • The Retreat
  • Lijstjes maken
  • I, Mona Lisa
  • The Christmas Cookie Club
  • The Aviary Gate (The Aviary Gate #1)
  • Pensionado's
  • The Art of the Lie: How the Manipulation of Language Affects Our Minds
  • Before She Was Helen
  • The Untamed Bride (Black Cobra Quartet #1)
  • The Elusive Bride (Black Cobra Quartet, #2)
  • The Hound of Death
See similar books…
DAVID HEWSON was born in Yorkshire in 1953. His books range from the Nic Costa series set in Italy to adaptations of The Killing in Copenhagen and the Pieter Vos series in Amsterdam.
He's adapted Shakespeare for Audible and in 2018 won the Audie for best original work for Romeo and Juliet: A Novel, narrated by Richard Armitage.
2019 sees the release of a new, full-cast Audible drama set in New

Other books in the series

Nic Costa (10 books)
  • The Villa Of Mysteries (Nic Costa, #2)
  • The Sacred Cut (Nic Costa, #3)
  • The Lizard's Bite (Nic Costa, #4)
  • The Seventh Sacrament (Nic Costa, #5)
  • The Garden Of Evil (Nic Costa, #6)
  • Dante's Numbers (Nic Costa, #7)
  • The Blue Demon (Nic Costa, #8)
  • The Fallen Angel (Nic Costa, #9)
  • The Savage Shore (Nic Costa #10)
“... Gino Fosse vond deze vreemde afbeeldingen van martelaren fascinerend. Hij had uren in de San Stefano Rotondo, niet ver van de villa Celimontana, zitten kijken naar de vaklieden die de verbijsterende schilderingen op de muren daar restaureerden. Deze afbeeldingen spraken tot hem, zeiden iets dat hij niet helemaal begreep. Op de lippen van de martelaren lag op het moment dat zij de kwellingen doorstonden, een raadselachtig eeuwig geheim dat ze na al die jaren nog met hem zouden kunnen delen als hij de sleutel maar wist.” 0 likes
More quotes…