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Hewson, David - 'A Season for the Dead' (Unabridged Audiobook) read by Sean Baker
Audio Cassette (2003) Publisher: Clipper Audio ISBN: 1841977489

Buy this from UK Audiobooks

A SEASON FOR THE DEAD introduces Rome policeman, Nic Costa. In his late twenties, vegetarian, a runner and the son of a radical politician, he doesn't really fit in. One of his party tricks is to know the locations of the nearest Caravaggio paintings from his current position. Costa and his new partner, Rossi, are assigned to a low-key role in St Peter's Square when Nic hears on his illegal scanner that there has been a shooting in the Vatican. Legally, the Vatican is in another country and Italian police are not to interfere. Nonetheless, Nic manages to access the scene of the crime, the Vatican Library. The dead man, Stefano Rinaldi, had been addressing Sara Farnese, a friend and fellow scholar, all the while holding a human skin. Rinaldi's words lead them to a church on Tiber Island and to the owner of the skin plus Rinaldi's, also dead, wife.

These are the first of several gruesome murders and the link between the victims appears to be Sara Farnese. The murderer is killing people in the various manners that early Catholic martyrs died and always remains one step ahead of the police and even when their identity is known, the police fail to prevent more loss of life.

A SEASON FOR THE DEAD mixes a story of revenge with religion, art and greed to make an intriguing cocktail. An evocative sense of place and likeable main characters in Nic, Rossi and 'crazy' Teresa, the pathologist, make this an absorbing listen which is packed with history too. After finishing the book, I had some reservations on the plot, such as how the killer could be steered towards this method of killing and I felt there were some loose ends surrounding the early murders and the motivations of the killer. However at the time of listening these were less evident due to the pace of the story and the exciting ending.

Sean Baker carries out an almost flawless narration and makes Nic believably younger than the rest of the 'cast'. The female characters are superbly rendered, especially Sara and Teresa.

It did take me longer to listen to this one than usual, as the recording level was set at such a low level that I was unable to hear it over the ambient commuting noise on the train and so I could only listen to it at home. This may just have been a fault of this batch.

Karen Meek, England
August 2006

Karen blogs at Euro Crime.

last updated 23/03/2008 21:00