I've been reading David Hewson since The Sacred Cut was released in 2005 - the third book to feature Italian detective, Nic Costa. Upon finishing, I immediately ran out to buy the first two! I kept them in stock at the store for recommendations until they day I left.
What I really like about this series, aside from the obvious appeal the first ones had for anyone and everyone who got a kick out of Da Vinci Code, it's not "the Nic Costa series." In fact, the series really focuses on the whole cast of characters. (Hewson lists the books as "The Rome Series" which I think is much more appropriate, but I know people still refer to it as the Nic Costa series, it's catchy.)
The series begins with A Season for the Dead which is what prompted this post. It seems Bantam Dell is offering readers the opportunity to read Season for free until October 16. Here's the link. Now I know that reading on your computer can be a pain, but while you're surreptitiously reading this blog at work, maybe you could hit the link and read a bit between phone calls. And maybe, if you like it, you'll go pick up a Nic Costa book!
Like I said, Season is the first book in which Nic and crew make their appearance. The book begins with a death in the Vatican reading room. It's been a while since I've read it, but it's one of those cerebral thrillers based around puzzles and the mysteries of the Vatican (you know, hidden documents kept secret from the outside world and all that). Costa is an expert on Caravaggio (which I find really interesting) and can tell you where each of the man's paintings hang in the famous city. He's also the son of a communist and the shadow forever hangs over him.
The series continues as follows:
The Villa of Mysteries
The Sacred Cut
The Lizard's Bite
The Seventh Sacrament
The Garden of Evil
Dante's Numbers (UK only right now)
One other book ties in with the series and that is Lucifer's Shadow. This one needs to be read before Lizard's Bite as it does concern some of the same characters. Consequently, Lizard is the first book in the series in which Nic and partner leave Rome. Both Lizard and Lucifer take place in Venice where the two are sent after getting into trouble in Sacred Cut.
I've not read the whole series just yet. I've got Seventh Sacrament waiting for me and Garden of Evil was just released this June, though, so I'm not too far behind. I suggest you check out the freebie, it'll hook you right away I promise, and then rush to catch up!