Book Review: The Abomination by: Jonathan Holt

Rating: 3/5

Publisher: Harper

Publish Date: June 18, 2013

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Format:  Hardcover

Order Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: When the clock strikes midnight on the feast day of La Befana, Venice is aglow as a cascade of glittering fireworks bursts above the city. Masked figures crowd the vaporettos, the trattorias are humming with grappa-soaked gossip, and the possibility for random passion heats the frosty winter air.

Across the Grand Canal, beneath the stunning white dome of one of Venice's grandest landmarks, Santa Maria della Salute, a body with two slugs in the back of the head has been pulled from the icy waters. The victim is a woman. To the dismay of the police, she is dressed in the sacred robes of a Catholic priest--a desecration known as the Abomination.

Working her first murder case, newly promoted Captain Kat Tapo of the Carabinieri embarks on a labyrinthine trail that soon proves as elusive and confusing as the city's twisting backstreets. Her investigation leads from a crumbling asylum on a deserted island to the impenetrable complex of American military bases ringing the medieval city--and deeper, into an eerie virtual Venice that is both alien and familiar.

The influential and highly secretive simulated world of holds the city's secrets, dark knowledge that reaches into the highest levels of government and the church, involving its most influential figures. The site's founder is a notorious hacker and the scion of one of Venice's oldest families--a man already convicted of cybercrimes whose life is threatened by an anonymous group determined to silence him and destroy his virtual city.

Just when every lead seems to send a frustrated Kat in a new direction, the various trails go cold, evidence goes missing, and the case is officially shut down. What follows is the unraveling of a dark conspiracy whose roots go back seventy years, revelations that will test Kat's loyalties and remind the dedicated cop of a simple truth: that unless old crimes are punished, corrupt forces will continue to repeat their mortal sins...

Review: ‘The Abomination’ is the first book in the Carnivia Trilogy, set in Venice. When a woman is found dead wearing the robes of a Catholic priest, Kat Tapo of the Carabinieri is called in to investigate. At the same time, Daniele Barbo is on trial due to his totally anonymous website which the government wants the information it contains. The third main character, US Second Lieutenant Holly Boland has just arrived in Italy and is dealing with a very strange FOIA request. Captain Tapo’s investigation brings her to both Barbo and Boland and leads her on a twisted path through Venice’s underbelly.

‘The Abomination’ is an interesting juxtaposition of old and new world Venice. There are secret societies, murder, conspiracies, and the whole overt tone of misogyny. One thing I didn’t like was while this novel was about the abuse and dehumanization of women, the author seemed to describe his main female characters by misogynistic terms – focusing on their looks instead of on their abilities. I don’t know much about Italy in general and Venice in particular, but the author really brought it to life. It seemed at times as if Venice herself was a character, too. I was intrigued by the secret society and the website, Carnivia, the most. As Kat, Holly, and Daniele get closer to the truth they are shut down and sent distractions. Yet they manage to uncover the truth despite the corruption and dead ends. The action really doesn’t pick up until the second half of the book, but then it roars to a very suspenseful conclusion. ‘The Abomination’ is an interesting story and it does give voice to issues which are often overlooked or dismissed. I do want to read the next book in the trilogy, but I hope it is a little more dynamic from the beginning.

The Carnivia Trilogy: The Abomination (1)


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