The Abomination by Jonathan Holt

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The Abomination by Jonathan Holt

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Steve Shayler
Reviewed by Steve Shayler
Summary: This is an exciting conspiracy thriller with well realised characters and an unpredictable plot.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: November 2013
Publisher: Head of Zeus
ISBN: 978-1781853696

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Captain Katerina Tapo of the Italian Carabinieri police force, Holly Boland, a Second Lieutenant in the US Army and Daniele Barbo a reclusive web expert, are each individually investigating seemingly separate events that become more and more entwined. Their collective probing uncovers a massive conspiracy and seems to implicate the US Army, the Catholic Church and the Italian Mafia, three incredibly powerful organisations that it is best not to rile in any way, as the three characters are quick to discover.

The story starts with a murder investigation after a woman’s body is washed up on the steps of a church in Venice. The fact that the woman had been shot and killed was not the most shocking aspect to the locals as the woman was wearing a priest's robes, the public consider this a more despicable act than the murder itself and the woman is branded an abomination. Captain Tapo is assigned to the case as her first murder investigation and very quickly it becomes apparent that it is a very complex case that could potentially make or break her career in the Carabinieri. She is mentored by her superior officer who appears to be one of only very few members of the Italian police force who is not incompetent or corrupt. The relationship between the two is instantly absorbing and the mutual respect between the two very different people helps form a partnership that as a reader I was hoping would continue into later books.

Second Lieutenant Holly Boland has just been deployed by the US Army to a desk job in Italy and her first task in her new job is to fulfil a member of the public’s request for information relating to meetings held in the early nineteen-nineties involving a Croatian General currently on trial in a war crimes court. This forms the second strand of the book's plot and the eager-to-please Holly digs up information that the US Army wishes didn’t exist. Holly is a tough woman and despite the dangers involved can’t resist investigating further once she has the bit between her teeth. When Holly and Tapo meet another interesting relationship is formed with two very strong and highly readable characters.

The third plotline involves the incredibly unusual character Daniele Barbo who was born the son of an important family in Italy and suffered an extremely appalling ordeal as a child that has left him scarred both physically and mentally. Barbo is a recluse and an infamous figure in Venice having used his mastery of computer programming and mathematics to create an incredible website that the government wish to gain control of or destroy. He is on trial for his refusal to allow the government access to the information stored within his site but he also seems to be under attack from another quarter. Barbo attempts to discover who is attacking him and why and in the process his story links with both Holly Boland and Katerina Tapo.

It feels as though I have disclosed much of the storyline of The Abomination but I really haven’t. Jonathan Holt’s book has an incredibly dense plot that takes you on a journey full of twists, conspiracies, deception and danger leaving you constantly questioning who can be trusted and what will be discovered next. This is a terrific read with the different plotlines all being attention-grabbing, inter-weaving nicely and contributing to the overall storyline. The main characters are well fleshed-out and believable and the conspiracy at the heart of this book is also intelligently put together and revealed piecemeal with great timing. Considering the scale of the conspiracy uncovered within the story the ending felt a little rushed and didn’t quite feel as satisfying as the lead up. This is to be the first of a trilogy though and hopefully this finale is intended and the next two books will pick certain aspects up and steer them to a more satisfying conclusion. The ending does not detract much from an enjoyable read and I am still left with a desire to read the rest of the Carnivia Trilogy and hopefully join the thrilling characters from this offering again.

The Abomination has a few similarities with the fantastic The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and Reg Keeland (translator) which if you haven’t already I strongly recommend reading. We also have a review of Holt's The Abduction.

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