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.
A part of the "Inferno Follow-up" Collection
A young Iraqi refugee named Laila provides both the heart and the McGuffin in Hewson's elegant new thriller, the third featuring tough Roman detectives Gianni Peroni and Nic Costa (A Season for the Dead and The Villa of Mysteries). Laila inadvertently witnesses a brutal murder in Rome's Pantheon and earns the guardianship of the top cops. Childless pathologist Teresa Lupo becomes a surrogate mother to the waif as the team slowly closes in on the killer. The position of the naked corpse suggests Leonardo da Vinci's The Vitruvian Man, and carvings on the victim's flesh depict the mystical symbol of the novel's title. The novel seems headed for Dan Brown territory, but Hewson's clever puzzle remains just that, a tantalizing challenge to the detectives and to the encroaching FBI, led by abrasive agents Joel Leapman and Emily Deacon. The perp, it seems, is a serial killer who has similarly carved several victims around the world. Though the novel unfolds via familiar genre conventions-creepy passages from the killer's perspective revealing equal parts of evil and genius, turf skirmishes between our Roman heroes and the FBI suits, imperiled female victims-Hewson's solid writing and multidimensional characters command attention from start to finish of this smart, literate thriller. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
August 29, 2006
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The Sacred Cut by David Hewson
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 the stores.
Nic Costa and Gianni Peroni had read the met briefing before they went on duty that evening. They'd looked at the words "severe weather warning" and tried to remember what that meant. Floods maybe. Gales that brought down some of the ancient tiles which sat so unsteadily on the rooftops of the centro storico, the warren of streets and alleys in the city's Renaissance quarter where the two men spent most of their working lives. But this was different. The met men said it would snow and snow and snow. Snow in a way it hadn't for almost twenty years, since the last big freeze in 1985. Only for longer this time, a week or more. And the temperatures would hit new lows too. Maybe it was global warming. Maybe it was just a trick throw of the meteorological dice. Whatever the reason, the world was about to become seriously out of sync for a little while and that knowledge, shared among the two and a half million or more individuals who lived within the boundaries of the Comune di Roma, was both scary and tantalizing. The city was braced for its first white Christmas in living memory and already the consequences of this were beginning to seep into the Roman consciousness. People were preparing to bunk off work for any number of sound and incontrovertible reasons. They'd picked up the nasty virus that was creeping through the city. They couldn't take the buses in from the suburbs because, even if they made it through the dangerous, icy streets, who knew if they'd get back in the evening? Life was, for once, just too perilous to do anything but stay at home, or maybe wander down to the local bar and talk about nothing except the weather.
And they were all, librarian and shop assistant, waiter and tour guide, priest and shivering cop, thinking secretly: This is wonderful. Because for once Christmas would be a holiday. For once the city would step off the constantly moving escalator of modern life, remember to take a deep breath, close its eyes and sleep a little, all under that gorgeous ermine coverlet that kept falling in a constant white cloud, turning the black stones of the empty streets the colour of icing sugar.
Peroni glanced at his partner, an expression Costa now recognized, one that said: Watch this. Then the big cop walked over and threw an arm around Sandri, squeezing him hard.
"Hey, Mauro," Peroni growled, and crushed the photographer one more time before letting go. "Your fingers are frozen stiff. It's pitch dark here with nothing to look at but snow. Why don't you quit taking photos for a while? You must've done a couple of hundred today already. Relax. We could go some place warm. Come on. Even you clever guys could handle a caffe corretto on a night like this."
The photographer's round, bulbous eyes blinked back at the two policemen suspiciously. He flexed his shoulders, maybe to shrug off the cold, maybe to get back some feeling after experiencing Peroni's grip.
"This would be a duty break, right? I can still shoot if I want to?"