The Abduction by Jonathan Holt

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The Abduction by Jonathan Holt

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Steve Shayler
Reviewed by Steve Shayler
Summary: The second instalment of the thrilling Venice-set Carnivia Trilogy, in which the brilliant characters return uncovering a conspiracy in their attempts to solve a kidnapping case.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 458 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Head of Zeus
ISBN: 978-1781853719

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The teenage daughter of a US Army Major is kidnapped when off basecamp at a Venetian nightclub. She is abducted by a masked team during the carnevale celebrations, when people not wearing masks are more conspicuous than those whose identities are hidden. Everything about the abduction seems perfectly orchestrated leaving very little in the way of clues apart from the very fact that it is carried out with such military precision.

The events cause the characters from the first book in the Carnivia trilogy (The Abomination) to reunite despite the fact that many of them separated quite explosively. At the beginning of the novel Carabinieri Captain Kat Tapo is embroiled in a sexual harassment law suit against her former partner/boss Aldo Piola but when the kidnapping investigation becomes internationally important Aldo joins the hunt and Tapo is forced to re-evaluate her priorities.

We also have the welcome return of Daniele Barbo who is easily the most intriguing of a very rich cast of characters. Barbo is a disfigured computer genius who created and runs the highly controversial Carnivia website; an online simulation of Venice in which people can meet up and trade all manner of items and services untraceably. The abductors use the freedom provided by this website to post shocking videos of their abductee being tortured using documented CIA interrogation techniques in a political statement against the presence of US army bases on Italian soil. Barbo is placed under immense pressure to close down the site to deprive the abductors of their forum and does all he can to help Tapo and US Second Lieutenant Holly Boland in their investigations, short of handing over or closing his precious website.

In the course of investigations a major conspiracy is uncovered that involves the Vatican, the CIA and the post-war Italian government. The scale of the revelations is huge and could easily have become a little ludicrous but I didn’t find them too far-fetched and I think the conspiracy is actually rather believable, fitting well with the history and political environment in Italy; Jonathan Holt has clearly done his research.

All of the main characters from the first book feature heavily again in this story and their personalities, nuances and flaws are further developed by the author. They all feel very genuine and have plenty of believable emotional baggage making them easy to relate to and as a reader I found myself hoping certain relationships would flourish and characters such as Holly Boland would reach much needed realisations.

The actual kidnapping is just the tip of the iceberg in this story and there is great depth and significance within the novel, the finale of the investigation into the abducted Major’s daughter is not the true climax of the plot. There are further twists that prompt a slightly over the top, almost James Bond-like, scene and another capture. The ending that follows feels a little abrupt considering the supposed scale of the operation involved and left me a little cold. That said I really do look forward to discovering what happens next in the third of the trilogy and greatly enjoyed the story as a whole.

The Abduction is an incredibly gripping read that deftly combines many of the best elements of a good thriller, from exciting characters uncovering dark plots to feelings of unease and distrust, this one left me guessing most of the way through. I would certainly highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys losing themselves in an intricate plot that can leave them questioning the powers that govern us.

Although this story can be read individually I would strongly advise reading The Abomination first as not only does it deliver the characters to where they are at the beginning of this story but it is also a real page-turner. For another abduction, try The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen.

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