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Lucifer's Shadow

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In an ancient burial ground on an island off Venice, a young woman's casket is pried open, an object is wrenched from her hands, and an extraordinary adventure begins.

From the moment he arrives in Venice, Daniel Forster is seduced by the city's mystery and eroticism. An earnest young academic, Daniel has come for a summer job cataloguing a private collector's library. But when Daniel's employer sends him to buy a stolen violin from a petty thief, a chain reaction of violence and deception ignites. Suddenly Daniel is drawn into a police investigation and a tempest swirling around a beautiful woman, a mysterious palazzo, and a lost musical masterpiece dating back centuries. With each step he takes, Daniel unwittingly retraces a journey that began in 1733, when another young man came to Venice. And when, in this realm of intrigue and beauty, two lovers came face-to-face with a killer and a mystery was born. Separated by centuries, two tales of passion, betrayal, and danger collide in David Hewson's dazzling novel. Sweeping us from the intrigue of Vivaldi's Venice to the gritty world of a modern cop, from the genius of a prodigy to the greed of a killer, Lucifer's Shadow builds to a shattering crescendo and one last, breathtaking surprise.

From the Hardcover edition.

384 pages, Paperback

First published June 18, 2001

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About the author

David Hewson

87 books430 followers
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 York, Last Seen Wearing, and a standalone novel set in the Faroe Islands, Devil's Fjord.

Nic Costa

Pieter Vos

The Killing

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5 stars
166 (18%)
4 stars
314 (35%)
3 stars
275 (31%)
2 stars
86 (9%)
1 star
36 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 80 reviews
Profile Image for Heidi.
732 reviews40 followers
July 4, 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Historical mysteries, especially a combination of a present day mystery mirroring a history from the past, are my favorites, and this one kept me very interested throughout. Personally I was more interested in the present day mystery, because I found it more compelling and liked the romance better; but I enjoyed both.

Daniel Forster is an young englishman who comes to Venice to work for a vaguely shady (or is it shadowy?) antique dealer named Scacchi. He is captivated by the old man and his household, which includes an attractive housekeeper (whom I imagined as a youngish Sophia Loren.) Daniel discovers an ancient unattributed symphony in the walls of his boss' ancient palazzo and is soon caught up in an illegal intrigue involving so many threads I can't do justice to them all and won't even try. At the same time a parallel voice from the 18th century recounts the story of the composing of the symphony and how it was lost. Both stories include murder, deception, deviltry, double dealing and romance. I guessed some of the plot twists, but definitely not all of them.

This put me in mind of another delicious confection -- "The Savage Garden" by Mark Mills, where another Englishman travels to Italy and pits his very English ways against those of the wily, world weary Italians. Both were well written escapism, my favorite.

The one thing that made me like Mark Mills' novel better was that I listened to both on my iPod, and "Lucifer's Shadow" was read, during the part taking place in the 18th century, by an anglo using a very broad italian accent that was vaguely comic and ludicrous, especially when he was saying things like "he's a good chap". Now, when David Hewson was writing this I'm sure he wrote as if this were just an English translation of the Italian, but the reader did it as if he were an Italian speaking directly in English, and the language and the accent just did not mesh. I kept being aware that if I'd been reading it, I wouldn't be having the same reaction, so I would recommend reading rather than listening to this book.
Profile Image for Kandice.
Author 1 book
March 13, 2015
It was OK, but I like this author's Nic Costa mysteries better. If you're looking for a well-written suspense story, check those out instead. While this tried to be suspenseful and historical, it missed it's mark and wasn't really either.
Profile Image for Sheather Nelson.
79 reviews4 followers
June 24, 2010
Two entertwined stories, set several hundred years apart, and connected by a violin. This is a recipe I am a sucker for. The descriptions of Venice are beautiful, the pace quickens as the mystery unfolds (it becomes hard to put down), and the end payoff is great. (It's a happier ending than I would have expected, and even the very last sentence is a surprise zinger.)
Some people have complained about having difficulty following the two plotlines, but I almost always enjoy this literary device of the parallel stories at two points in history that eventually cross. The structure itself adds another layer of suspense, because basically you know they'll cross but you don't know how. The book also wove in cultural and musical history in a way that wasn't ostentatious but just seemed to soak in, like the yellowing light of Venice. Those who are familiar with classical music history, at least in a cursory way, will enjoy it more. And there's even a love story. What more could you want?
Profile Image for Penny G.
601 reviews3 followers
August 24, 2015
Normally I enjoy when multiple stories are interwoven together; however this novel wasn't successful. The stories were disjointed and the timeframes were unclear. By the end of the story the author's purpose became clear, but by that point I was over it.
Profile Image for Jessa Allen.
29 reviews
February 20, 2017
I spent a day, a single day, in Venice a few years ago. I loved how well this book described the city, it felt like I was back there walking the narrow streets and winding passageways. The story and characters were well written and I enjoyed how everything tied together in the end.
51 reviews
October 7, 2019
Found this one hard work to get through. Both story lines just seemed to wander aimlessly at times so the pace just died.
141 reviews
July 12, 2022
Had some interesting historical bits and relived being in Venice at times but Very slow first 40 chapters. Got more interesting but also too convoluted.
Profile Image for Karalee Coleman.
222 reviews
July 26, 2021
I’m more familiar with Mr. Hewson’s excellent Nic Costa police procedurals, but was very pleased by this off-series entry. Two parallel stories taking place three hundred years apart are intertwined, pitting evil against not-really-evil-but-still-kind-of-questionable. The author writes about music lovingly and with insight, and of course the story – both stories – is/are set in Venice. Who doesn’t love stories set in Venice? Surely it’s one of the world’s creepiest and most magical locations.

The story kept me on the edge of my seat and glued to my screen through to the final unexpected revelation. Wow!

I understand that one of the Nic Costa mysteries intersects with this story, so I’ll have to look for it.
Profile Image for Rossrn Nunamaker.
212 reviews3 followers
February 7, 2009
I took out Lucifer's Shadow and Lizard's Bite both by David Hewson at the same time and read Lizard's Bite first as I had read the previous Costa detective book the Sacred Cut.

I should have read Lucifer's Shadow first. The Lizard's Bite follows Lucifer's Shadow. Both books feature Hugo Massiter and Lizard's Bite mentions Daniel Forster and Laura who are featured in Lucifer's Shadow.

Lucifer's Shadow is two related stories in one. Like Hewson's other books, the beginning is slow reading. This one is even more so as I found the 'letters' that tell the earlier story set in Venice during Vivaldi's time to be very slow and the italics didn't help on the eyes either.

In Vivaldi's time an accomplished violinist is hampered by the fact that she is Jewish and women can't perform in public. She is helped by a man, who is ordered to do so by his uncle, Scacchi and falls in love with her.

In the current time, a young man Daniel Forster comes to Venice under the pre-tense of cataloging a private library for Scacchi, descendant of the earlier Scacchi. In this 'library' a hidden manuscript is found and turns out to be a composition from Vivaldi's era.

Both stories have several parallels and feature conspiracies.

The ending did not tie up as tightly as I like, but given the hundreds of years separating them, one couldn't expect too much in regard to the two stories coming together any more than they did.

One story ended more happily ever after than the other, but there is a big gap between where Daniel and Laura conclude this work and where they are in the Lizard's Bite.
Profile Image for Karalee Coleman.
222 reviews
September 3, 2021
I’m more familiar with Mr. Hewson’s excellent Nic Costa police procedurals, but was very pleased by this off-series entry. Two parallel stories taking place three hundred years apart are intertwined, pitting evil against not-really-evil-but-still-kind-of-questionable. The author writes about music lovingly and with insight, and of course the story – both stories – is/are set in Venice. Who doesn’t love stories set in Venice? Surely it’s one of the world’s creepiest and most magical locations.

The story kept me on the edge of my seat and glued to my screen through to the final unexpected revelation. Wow!

I understand that one of the Nic Costa mysteries intersects with this story, so I’ll have to look for it.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,988 reviews15 followers
March 6, 2014
He remembered to wear black.

This story promotes mood-swings BIG time. I'm not one for changing eras but will run along with the idea if it's done well.

This is not done well.

No indication is given at the start of a chapter just where we are expected to jerk our interest to, and given that the modern story mimics the 'then' story and some of the names are the same, it proves to be a tad annoying.

That said, the story is at times truly brilliant, reflecting that old philosophical mantra that everything repeats itself ad infinitum. The snake eats it's own tale tail.

As frustrating as this book is I finished, liked it to a 3.5 and am even more convinced that Venice is a scary place. Lucky to have come out alive from my two visits.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Helen.
51 reviews5 followers
December 5, 2012
I read this book during November when I was up to my eyes with NaNoWriMo so I read it very slowly. Perhaps this was the best way of enjoying this book. It is a book that deserves time and attention. It is beautifully written and I loved the 'past' and 'present' construction and all the fascinating parallels (without giving too much away here I hope!). There are unexpected twists and turns in the plot that kept me hooked until the end. A very satisfying read and a great ending too. The descriptions of Venice are fascinating had me rummaging out guidebooks and checking flight prices. I would love to know how David Hewson works - does he plot intricately before he writes or does he let his characters lead? Must try to find out... I look forward to reading more David Hewson.
27 reviews
May 21, 2009
This book was very entertaining and multidimensional. It takes place in Venice and having spent two weeks there 2 years ago, the accurate description of the buildings and streets took me back to Venice!! The book also held two mysteries told at the same time alternating with chapters from the time of Vivaldi and current times. Although the two stories took place in completely different times, there were definite similarieties. It was a challenge to keep up with all the characters, but interesting to see how greed, jealousy, love, and intrigue transcends time.
Profile Image for Ray Akerboom.
443 reviews5 followers
March 2, 2015
It is especcially the atmosphere of Venice, both now and a few century's ago that is so gripping in this 'adventure'. Of course there are enough mysteries and even a murder or two on the shelf, but it is the elegance and the beauty of the city that makes you wanna go back there every time you lay your book aside. The two parralel stories eventually come together and the end is rather surprising. Whilst you read, put on some soft Vivaldi concerto in the background and behold... you're there and can smell the water of the lagune! Now try it yourself!
Profile Image for Manjunath.
60 reviews1 follower
December 10, 2016
in this genre where something in the past influences the present, zafon (shadow of wind, angels game) is the author who holds the prime spot.

this book tries to come close, and trust me he tries hard. one could easily shelf 100 pages off this book. starts at a turtles pace only to pick up in the last 150 pages or so.

all in all its a good read.good for picking historical references from the Renaissance capital
35 reviews
June 9, 2011
I seldom find a book that captures my imagination as this one did. It has a superb balance between past and present, evil and good, survival and defeat. After reading it, I went on to buy several books by David Hewson and I was amazed to see that none of them lived up to the expectations ;-)
Profile Image for Jane.
187 reviews2 followers
February 4, 2012
I absolutely loved this book. All the loose ends were tied up very satisfactorily and the twist was just brilliant. I have heard this book being compared to The Da Vinci Code but is far superior, the writing vividly brings Venice to life and now I desperately want to visit. Maybe one day......
Profile Image for Blueberry_cake13.
253 reviews4 followers
October 13, 2018
Młody student Daniel przyjeżdża na zaproszenie do Wenecji, aby skatalogować bibliotekę kolekcjonera sztuki. Dochodzi jednak to pewnych sytuacji, które doprowadzają chłopaka do nielegalnych wydarzeń. Dodatkowo wplątane są wątki związane z piękną skrzypaczką oraz pewnego weneckiego czeladnika z 1733 roku.

Kiedy sięgnęłam po książkę “Cmentarz tajemnic” nie miałam o niej zielonego pojęcia poza tym, co znajdowało się na tylnej okładce. A według tego opisu miał to być kryminał z elementami historycznymi w Wenecji. Oprócz tego wszędzie znajdują się wstawki, że książkę tę napisał autor innego znanego cyklu kryminałów. Te informacje spowodowały, że w pewien sposób zaufałam wydawnictwu/autorom tego wydania. I czuję się oszukana. Bo chociaż opis zapowiadał kryminał to według mnie jest go tyle, co kot napłakał.

Książka podzielona jest na dwie historię: teraźniejszą oraz tę z 1733 roku. I w dosyć krótkim czasie można zauważyć, że są one odzwierciedleniem, bo wszystkie następstwa i bohaterowie są bardzo podobne. Podczas czytania do pewnego momentu bardzo podobał mi się ten zabieg. Mój problem polegał jednak na tym, że przestałam rozumieć, jak autor chce połączyć te dwa wątki w dosyć sensowny sposób. I chyba dopiero na ostatnich stronach zostało to wyjaśnione, lecz było to strasznie banalne. Kolejną rozczarowującą kwestią jest to, że praktycznie do połowy książki maiłam wrażenie czytania literatury obyczajowej, a nie kryminału. Autor opisał relacje między bohaterami, ich uczucia oraz jak żyją w Wenecji, ale chyba przez większość okresu, w którym tworzył “Cmentarz tajemnic”, zapomniał, w jakim gatunku miała być ta powieść. Dopiero w drugiej części można odczuć, że ma elementy kryminału, lecz według mnie bardzo delikatne. Przyczyną tego jest słaba zagadka, o ile takowa tak naprawdę była. Przez większość fabuły ma się wrażenie, że zły charakter nie istnieje, a jeśli już to jego głównym występkiem jest kupowanie dzieł sztuki. Sama zagadka kryminalna, okazała się tajemnicą dla mnie, bo nie mogłam jej odkryć przez większość czasu, a kiedy stała się dla mnie jasna, była strasznie naciągana.

Jak już wspomniałam, postacie z teraźniejszości były odzwierciedleniem tych z 1733 roku. Można więc łatwo wywnioskować, że ich odpowiedniki były identyczne pod prawie każdym względem. Przypadek głównego bohatera Daniela oraz jego kopia z przeszłości Lorenzo to naiwni i zaślepieni miłością i honorem młodzi mężczyźni, którzy podczas czytania strasznie mnie męczyli. Nie myśleli rozsądnie i szli jak we mgle, nie zważając, że ktoś ich po prostu oszukuje. Chyba dawno już nie czytałam książki, która miałaby aż tak męczących bohaterów. W pewnych momentach chciałam rzucić w jednego z nich czymkolwiek, co miałam pod ręką, aby obudził się ze swojej naiwności.

Widać, że autor ma lekkie pióro. Książkę czyta się dosyć szybko oraz nie ma skomplikowanych słów, mimo tła wydarzeń. Inną sprawą jest to, że pan Hewson zagubił się w tym, co piszę. Na pewno ciekawym dodatkiem jest mapa Wenecji, która została umieszczona na tyłach okładki. Dla mnie jest to na pewno plus, bo oprócz kanału, łódek oraz domu bohatera, dla mnie mało było tego miasta. Nie wyczułam klimatu tego miejsca i gdyby nie nazwy danego miejsca, akcja równie dobrze mogłaby rozgrywać się w Londynie, czy nawet w Warszawie.

Niestety, ale ta książka była słaba. Ma się wrażenie, że wspólnym elementem z kryminałem jest autor. Dodatkowo każdy element fabuły był strasznie naciągany, nawet ten obyczajowy. Chyba jedyną jasną stroną tej książki jest bardzo przyjemny styl autora, dzięki któremu czyta się tę powieść szybko. Szczerze mówiąc po lekturze “Cmentarza tajemnic” nie mam ochoty na inne utwory pana Hewsona. Być może kiedyś to zrobię, jednak na dziś nie jestem zachęcona.
Profile Image for Belinda Vlasbaard.
3,244 reviews50 followers
June 17, 2022
4,25 sterren - Nederlandse paperback

Na de boeken rond inspecteur Nic Costa, die zich in Rome afspelen, maakte David Hewson een uitstap naar Venetië. Ook in De schaduw van Lucifer nemen geschiedenis en kunst een centrale plaats in.

Het boek verweeft twee verhalen, die zich ongeveer 300 jaar van elkaar afspelen. In beide verhalen maken we kennis met de familie Scacchi, een viool, een bevlogen violiste, een gewiekste Engelsman en een naÏeve jongen.

Hoewel hun verhalen in het begin mijlenver van elkaar af lijken te staan, slaagt Hewson erin ze naadloos in elkaar over te laten vloeien. Het gaat zelfs zo ver dat je als lezer na verloop van tijd bijna niet meer weet wat heden is en wat verleden.

Er zijn twee zaken in het boek die mij persoonlijk raakte: De bedt toch leemte in mijn kennis over de Joodse cultuur, geloof. Ik weet echt bedroevend weinig van
De jodenvervolging van voor de Nazi- periode! Menig Sjoel is verdwenen. Zoals in de Bijbel met de vernietiging van de tweede tempel ook werd voorspeld. Verstrooid naar alle uithoeken van de aarde en vervolgd.

De Davidster ken ik als een symbool van de Joodse cultuur. Ik heb altijd gedacht dat de gele jodenster een brandmerk van de nazi’s was en het was dan ook een schok te vernemen dat Venetie haar Joodse medeburgers met een gele David ster brandmerkte. Er waren ook plekken dat ze een gele puntmuts moesten dragen. Zie Wikipedia.

Voor mij was het heel bizar om te lezen dat het woord nazi voorkwam in de naam om een speciale groep Joden aan te duiden en naar ik begrepen had woonden/leefden in Oostenrijk/Duitsland.

Al met al een vsn de beste boeken van deze schrijver.
Profile Image for Luca.
99 reviews6 followers
March 21, 2021
Er leek maar geen einde te komen aan dit boek. Het verhaal is goed en heeft veel potentie maar de executie is ronduit bagger wat mij betreft. Teveel 'points of vieuw' die traag zijn, door elkaar lopen en het verhaal verwarrend maken. Pas na 300 bladzijdes begint het verhaal boeiend te worden en komen er stukjes van de verhaallijnen samen.
Normaal vind ik het heerlijk als verleden en heden door elkaar lopen en uiteindelijk samen komen, bij dit boek was dat niet het geval.

Dit boek is niet mijn ding.
Profile Image for Victor.
118 reviews21 followers
October 27, 2018
This is a terrific guilded double thriller that sways to an elegant prose that befits the promise of Venice. A world encapsulated by tidal shadows that gnaws at the very bricks of the city, exposing the timeless currents of human nature, from it's abyss to celestial artistry.
Unable to put down this elegant thriller.
124 reviews
August 27, 2018
A little hard to read at first since I know so little about Venice. The map helped. I really like how the two stories twisted together. The ending was great!
Profile Image for Alex Zeegers.
84 reviews2 followers
October 13, 2018
Een erg goed boek met 2 verhaal lijnen die af en toe best verwarrend zijn vooral doordat de 2 verhalen hier en daar op elkaar lijken.
Profile Image for Ulrike.
347 reviews3 followers
December 20, 2019
Not read - given up. Too bleak and depressing.. at least right now..
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