A season for the dead 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. Thus begins David Hewson's elegant and electrifying new novel. Set amidst a bizarre killing spree in modern Rome, it is a bewitching blend of history and drama, sensuality and suspense. As the August heat takes Rome in its fiery grip, the news of 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 27 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 asthe secrets of a woman, a killer and a city begin to unravel...with devastating consequences. A beguiling mystery, a dazzling treat for the senses, and a fascinating tour of the streets and alleyways of Rome The Villa of mysteries In a thriller of astounding menace and power, the acclaimed author of A Season for the Dead returns to the landscape he has made his own-the seething landscape of modern-day Rome-where ancient crimes lie hidden beneath colorful, bustling avenues. Here a teenage girl has disappeared, a detective is exploring a 2000-year-old ritual-and an astonishing mystery is about to unravel in a city of secrets and rage.... The Villa of Mysteries In Rome's crowded Campo dei Fiori, a woman rushes up to two carabinieri lounging in their sunglasses and uniforms, insisting that her sixteen-year-old daughter has just been abducted. Detective Nic Costa sees the scene unfold and intervenes. Because Costa knows what the two officers don't: that in the morgue at Rome's police headquarters, a forensic pathologist is examining the strange, mummified corpse of another girl, whose disappearance and death bear haunting similarities.... Police pathologist Teresa Lupo is Nic's colleague, friend, and his only equal when it comes to breaking the rules to get results, whatever the cost. Now, after years of living with the dead, Teresa insists that her superiors move quickly to save a life. Poring over the body of the girl in the morgue, she has found too many similarities between the girls, including a unique, leering tattoo. Lupo is sure that the vanished girl is headed for a bizarre ancient Bacchanalia involving virgins and sacrificial murder-a ritual that is only days away. As Nic and Teresa claw at the case from two sides-and as Nic finds himself at once puzzled and beguiled by the missing girl's seductive mother-a chilling picture is beginning to emerge...of secret relationships and sexualdepravity, organized crime and unimaginable corruption. With the clock ticking down on a young girl's life, Nic and Teresa are about to make the most horrifying discovery of all-in a pit of human darkness, where an age-old malevolence still endures, evil has consumed innocence...and a very modern vengeance has begun.
Publisher: Pan Books