A Season for the Dead

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 May, 2004, 12:00am

A Season for the Dead


by David Hewson


Pan $101


This crime thriller goes from zero to 90 in a few seconds. Two dead bodies appear in the first chapter - or, to be precise, one dead body and the skin from another. British author David Hewson goes to great lengths to ensure we appreciate how gruesome this is by describing 'a light skin somewhat tanned, and wet, as if it had been recently washed. It had been cut roughly from the body at the neck, genitals, ankles and wrists, with a final slash down the spine and the back of the legs in order to remove it as a whole piece.' This is the first novel in an Italian crime series set in Rome and featuring Detective Nic Costa. When he isn't being sickeningly gross, Hewson writes clean prose with some clever turns of phrase, which suggests he might be capable of writing something better than this, if only he could leave the violence behind.