Summary and book reviews of The Sacred Cut by David Hewson

The Sacred Cut

A Nic Costa Mystery

By David Hewson

The Sacred Cut
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2006,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2006,
    512 pages.

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Book Summary

The snow is falling on the ancient streets of Rome. And in the heart of the city, under the Pantheon's great dome, a woman's body lies on the marble floor, carefully positioned with a gruesome carving on her back....In David Hewson's ingenious new thriller, this horrific murder hurtles Rome's police force into a collision with U.S. agents–and a secret that has festered for fifteen years, now unraveling in the world's most enigmatic city.

When Detective Nic Costa arrives at the scene, he is unprepared for what he finds, or for the ambush that leaves his only witness vanished into the night. The dead woman was American. Within hours, U.S. agents descend with a take-no-prisoners style and a shocking story to tell: the killer has struck before, in monuments all over the world, leaving the same cryptic message carved onto the bodies of the victims.

But one agent, beautiful, blond Emily Deacon, has yet another story to tell Nic–about a stunning act of deception that may lead back to the U.S. government, and her own chilling, personal connection to the killer. Now, as the first murder leads to more grisly slayings and a motley crew of veteran Roman cops jousts with the Americans, Nic is pulled into a woman's harrowing search for the truth…a search that will take them both into the mind of a madman, into a shocking conspiracy–and into a dark episode in a nation's long-forgotten past.

From its haunting opening to its nerve-shattering climax, The Sacred Cut defies all our expectations, proving once again the unique and compelling genius of David Hewson.

Mercoledi

The two plainclothes cops huddled in the doorway of a closed farmacia in Via del Corso, shivering, teeth chattering, watching Mauro Sandri, the fat little photographer from Milan, fumble with the two big Nikon SLRs dangling round his neck. It was five days before Christmas and for once Rome was enjoying snow, real snow, deep and crisp and even, the kind you normally only saw on the TV when some surprise blizzard engulfed those poor miserable bastards living in the north.

It fell from the black sky as a perfect, silky cloud. Thick flakes curled around the gaudy coloured lights of the street decorations in a soft, white embrace. The pavements were already blanketed in a crunchy, shoe-deep covering in spite of the milling crowds who had pounded the Corso's black stones a few hours earlier, searching for last-minute Christmas presents in ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
The Detroit Free Press

The Sacred Cut is refreshing because it's low-key. But sometimes less is creepier. Even the climax is something you don't see often in books like this: bloodless, but fully satisfying.

Mystery File - Steve Lewis

This is as intriguing a police procedural as I've read in a long time. Humorous when it needs to be, sad when it needs to be, philosophical when it needs to be, and real all of the time, this is a long novel which you will wish was even longer.

Kirkus Reviews

Hewson's literate prose, bolstered by local color and historical tidbits, makes for top-flight entertainment.

Publishers Weekly

Hewson's solid writing and multidimensional characters command attention from start to finish of this smart, literate thriller.

Booklist - Bill Ott

Starred review. A masterful mix of the high-concept historical thriller and the cynical contemporary Italian procedural.

Canberra Times, Australia - Jeff Popple

This is a very impressive and enjoyable police thriller. The story unfolds quickly, with a regular unveiling of surprises and bursts of action. All the characters are well rounded and interesting, and Hewson's descriptions of a snow-clad Rome and its ancient monuments are evocative, and contrast nicely with the convincing depicting of post-September 11, 2001, geopolitics. Overall it is an engaging and intelligent crime novel.

The Globe and Mail, Toronto - Margaret Cannon

This is the third novel in this Roman cop series, and I'm hooked. I love the way Hewson combines 4,000 years of Roman history with 21st-century police plots. I love the Ed McBain style, with recurring characters who play different roles in each book. Most of all, I love the atmosphere and the beautifully crafted plots.

The Age, Melbourne - Cameron Woodhead

It beats the hell out The Da Vinci Code and anyone disappointed by that novel should give this one a try.

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Beyond the Book

About the Nic Costa series: The Sacred Cut is Hewson's third mystery to star Roman detective Nic Costa.  The series started with A Season for the Dead, published in the UK in 2003 and in the USA in 2004.  Then followed The Villa of Mysteries (2004/2005) and The Sacred Cut (2005).

The next in the series, The Lizard's Bite was published in the UK in March and will be available in hardcover in the USA this November. Hewson says the story harks back to an earlier standalone mystery he wrote - Lucifer's Shadow (published in the UK in 2001 and in the US in 2005), and includes some of the same characters.  Costa takes on a case that, for the first time, takes him beyond the known and comfortable confines of Rome,...

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