Book Seven

Nic Costa and team step outside Italy for the first time…

dantes-numbers-978144724763001In the gorgeous grounds of Rome’s Villa Borghese park the glitterati of the movie world are gathered for a world premiere. A legendary Italian movie director has come out of retirement to create a blockbuster based on Dante’s Inferno.

But, as Nic Costa and his colleagues attempt to guard the precious collection of historic artefacts attached to the event, the premiere is disrupted by tragedy and a horrific murder. Is a disgruntled admirer of Dante taking his revenge on the cast of the movie? Or are more mundane motives, the dubious financing of the film through criminal connections, to blame?

Before Costa and crew have the chance to find out they are removed from the inquiry and find themselves sidelined by the Carabinieri. But when the movie premiere shifts to California and the iconic surroundings of the Marina in San Francisco his inspector, Leo Falcone, manages to bring them along to work on the investigation from the sidelines. And as life begins to resemble art, Costa and his friends come to realise that the inspiration behind these crimes may be more recent than the Carabinieri suspect.

Resonating between Dante’s famous classic and Hitchcock’s masterpiece movie Vertigo,Dante’s Numbers (The Dante Killings in the US) is an elegant, original thriller destined to break new ground — and has already won the praise of some of the most famous authors in the world.

What they said

Jeffery Deaver

The return of Nic Costa is a true cause for celebration! Dante’s Numbers is a literate, page-turning tale that finds our hero—one of the most appealing in crime fiction — zipping between two of the most iconic cities in the world: Rome and San Francisco. Hewson is a daunting talent — a writer who is a master stylist, who respects the audience’s intelligence and who effortlessly keeps the thrills coming a mile a minute.

Linwood Barclay, author of No Time for Goodbye

This is a tour de force from one of the most original thriller writers around. With Dante-inspired villainy, Hitchcock obsessives, and an abundance of imaginative twists and turns David Hewson pulls out all the stops. Unmissable.

Douglas Preston, author of The Monster of Florence and Blasphemy

One of my all-time favorite fictional detectives is David Hewson’s Nic Costa, and Dante’s Numbers brings Nic for the first time to American shores. From the opening scene of murder and mayhem at a movie premiere to the final, mind-blowing surprise, Dante’s Numbers is an elegant, clever, and terrifying tale of intrigue and murder involving Dante’s first circle of Hell and Hitchcock’s classic film Vertigo. An outstanding novel.

Steve Berry, best-selling author of The Venetian Betrayal

David Hewson is one of the finest thriller writers working today. A born stylist. Dante’s Numbersis politically wise, multi-dimensional, and psychologically intuitive. Action braids suspense on nearly every page, creating a reader’s delight from beginning to end. A superb effort by a master storyteller.

David Morrell, author of First Blood and Creepers

Dante’s Numbers is action-packed suspense at its smartest and most gripping. Transplanting Nic Costa and his fellow Italian detectives to the dizzying world of Hitchcock’s Vertigo is a master stroke from a brilliant author. It’s impossible not to be swept up in the memorable, compelling world that is David Hewson’s specialty.

David Corbett, Edgar-nominated author of Blood of Paradise

David Hewson is a marvel, writing riveting suspense with a wistful grace. Dante’s Numbersmight very well be his best, a white-knuckle joy that’s smart, poignant, and acidly fun as Hollywood meets Dante via Italy’s notoriously over-the-top slasher films, known as the gialli. I got caught up in the story instantly, learning much, laughing too, all the way to the heart-pounding, heart-wrenching, heartbreaking end. If only all page-turners were this intelligent, witty and human.

Publishers Weekly

Hewson’s fine seventh crime novel to feature Nic Costa (after The Garden of Evil) takes the Italian police detective to San Francisco, where aging, ailing director Roberto Tonti is preparing for the premiere of his first major film in 20 years, Inferno. Based on Dante’s Divine Comedy, the $150-million blockbuster, which was filmed in Tonti’s native Italy, is to be the capstone of the director’s career.

In San Francisco, the Questura (Costa’s outfit) and the carabinieri—the former charged with security for Dante artefacts in a tie-in exhibit, the latter with security for the actors—pursue separate, often conflicting agendas after a series of bizarre incidents, including a priceless artifact’s theft, a movie star’s kidnapping and an attack on another star that results in death. The SFPD also gets into the act as more murders plague the film’s debut. A convoluted plot, eccentric characters and numerous sinister connections to Hitchcock’s Vertigo all contribute to the suspense.

In the Times Record News, Wichita, Amy Hawkins writes…

In the seventh in his series featuring the suave Italian detective Nic Costa, David Hewson takes his leading man to San Francisco to track down spectacularly crafted crimes set against the backdrop of a film premiere in Dante’s Numbers. Hitchcock-type intrigue fuses with modern crime investigation as Nic and his two colleagues track down the missing death mask of Dante, preclude the infiltration of a historical exhibit at Golden Gate Park, and deduce the killer’s MO and identity – all while dodging the San Francisco team and the Carabinieri, their Italian counterparts, also on the case.

Not one to gloss over Costa’s romantic nature, Hewson slowly reveals a delicious subplot involving Nic and Maggie Flavier, the star of the murder-embroiled film. Hewson leads you on an exciting journey, tumbling back and forth from San Francisco to Rome, wrapping it up in a classic Hitchcock climax that literally made me gasp – out loud. Like a whitewater rafting trip, over the rapids one minute and cruising along calmer waters the next, you find yourself catching your breath after each chapter for the next rush. Flawless suspense is intertwined with Dante’s eternal intrigue.

In Bookreporter Joe Hartlaub hailed the book as ‘the author’s best to date’, writing….

Dante’s Numbers is arguably the most accessible of Hewson’s works, which is not to say that the plot is necessarily a simple one. Nor does Hewson fail to inform while entertaining. Indeed, the ins and outs of film financing, motion picture history, the differences between a producer and a director, and a little-known but centuries-old financial version of the game of “chicken” are all explored here, against the backdrop of one of the world’s most interesting cities and, of course, the dip and swirl of romantic relationships. All of this is done within the context of an elaborate murder mystery, and exquisitely so.

In Mystery News Harriet Stay gives the book five stars and writes….

I always have a special feeling when I begin a new book by a familiar author, especially one like David Hewson, who has never disappointed and at times created unexpected surprises. This is no exception. Hewson propels the reader from page one through a twisted whodunit, unraveling cryptic clues, converging with potential suspects, enjoying a romp beyond the cable cars and Union Square, touching the technology world of overnight billionaires, all the while still maintaining himself as a magician with the English language. This is a top-notch, thrilling ride.


Hewson never loses the reader’s attention, and for fans of this outstanding series, the latest chapter in the interlocked lives of Costa and friends… is as delicious as ever.

Margaret Cannon in the Toronto Globe & Mail

The seventh of Hewson’s series featuring Nic Costa of the Italian State Police is as smart and sophisticated as the other six. Hewson always uses some bit of Roman or Italian history or literature to focus his modern crime novels, and this is one of his best. Maybe that’s because the central theme is built around the work of Dante, or maybe it’s because Hewson moves the action, but not the mood, from Rome to Los Angeles, the centre of glitz and glamour. Dante and movies? If you think it won’t work, think again.

Winston-Salem Journal

With his carefully prepared stories, larded with tasty historical tidbits and spread out across the series’ sumptuous Roman setting, David Hewson has created a growing clientele of satisfied readers. His handsome, slightly rumpled detective, Nic Costa, has led the reader through a feast of multilayered plot concoctions in the past six novels. The seventh in the series will be equally pleasing to his fans’ palates.

When this series left Italy, it did not leave good writing behind; Hewson’s stories are simply well-done police procedurals in an exotic package.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Sending his cast to America is a masterful touch from Hewson, who works diligently to keep his series from becoming stale… As illusion fuses with reality and builds to a shattering climax, Hewson keeps his readers grounded in what’s real. Rich in characters, complex of plot, Dante’s Numbers is a worthy entry in an erudite, entertaining series.

Edmonton Sun

David Hewson’s Rome-based trio of Italian detectives, Nic Costa, Leo Falcone and Teresa Lupo, move their operations temporarily to America in this new novel. A multimillion dollar movie is being shot in Rome, based on Dante’s masterpiece, Inferno, with an international cast which includes two American movie stars, Allan Prime and Maggie Flavier. The Italian premiere is accompanied by an exhibit of the poet’s priceless death mask, but a macabre intervention showing Prime’s kidnapping and murder brings the detectives into the case. As the movie premiere moves to San Francisco, they are along to protect other artifacts. Eerie coincidences turn up involving Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Vertigo. Other murders and an obsessive killer heighten the suspense. Another Nic Costa winner.

The Mystery Gazette

The Dante connection in Italy is one of the best police procedural opening segues in years… fans of the series will enjoy Costa and his mates as they travel the mean streets of San Francisco.

Claire Emsberger in the Sullivan County Democrat

Allow me simply to announce this eighth of David Hewson’s Rome suspense novels—the third I’ve reported on in the last two years, again featuring the brilliant and soulful detective, Nic Costa. These are contemporary novels, but also steeped in the lore of different periods of the city’s history (which has plenty of history to draw on). In this one, for the first time in the series and in his life, he leaves Rome—for San Francisco. With an American movie star. But Costa remains gloomily philosophical, just the way we like him, and the story is just the way we like it.


Nic Costa is a breath of fresh air in detective fiction in general. The absence of clichéd police officers is to be highly commended. Although the pathologist is a light-hearted character, she doesn’t hang around making horrible jokes about sandwiches for black humour. All four police officers are thoroughly plausible human beings. I was really pleased with Dante’s Numbers. It’s played dead straight but contains just enough that is quirky and off the wall. The ending is over the top but utterly utterly brilliant, and even in the very few parts which are predictable it’s all a huge amount of fun. Hewson’s writing is solid and engaging, and he’s clearly at ease with his regular cast of characters.