The Abomination

The Abomination by Jonathan Holt, The Carnivia Trilogy #1

In Venice - city of secrets, city of lies - two women search for a killer...

Captain Katerina Tapo is the youngest female officer of the Venice carabinieri. Assigned to her first murder case, she finds a woman strangled and submerged in the waters that surround the city. A woman dressed in the robes of a priest.

Lieutenant Holly Boland of the US Army spent her childhood in Italy. Now, returning at last, she finds herself conscripted by the intelligence forces to investigate the murder of a female activist. A woman whose body has also been given to the sea...

Carnivia is a virtual Venice - a city within the city - where anyone may conduct another life, outside the rule of law. Where the identities of two dead women lie hidden in plain sight...

Some secrets were never meant to surface.

Head of Zeus send over some of there finest crime novels of 2013 and The Abomination was one of them. Like I said before I have been exploring different genres of English books and found that crime/thriller was directly up my alley. There are a lot of praises going on about this book for fans of Dan Brown and others, well I haven't read those so I cant compare. But what I can judge is that The Abomination is a top notch thriller. It's the first in a thrilling trilogy.

The Abomination is set in Venice, Italy, now could there be any greater venue for letting an intricate murder investigation taking place? When you think of Italy and some of the bigger cities is might seem that the forefront is all well and happy in the daylight, but several Italian cities hold a specific spell for me, in the dark, narrow alley's at night odd things can happen. However the authentic Venice isn't the only place where the story of The Abomination takes place, in the story there is another - digital - Venice known as the Carnivia. Carnivia is a place on the internet where people can live there lives (think rpg kinda way) without the interference of any law's. It has been programmed by one guy, Daniele, who made sure that his site cannot be hacked in any way. Giving complete privacy to it's users. For both good and bad intents... I was very pleased with the descriptions that Jonathan Holt used to show how rich his real life version of Venice was and how interesting Carnivia was. If you think about Carnivia, you may think it as a place of doing some fun stuff, but when you really think about it combined with the character of Daniele it becomes that much more powerful and holds much more than what simply meets the surface.

In The Abomination you follow three initially separated storylines. The first is that of Captain Katerina Tapo, an officer from the Italian carabinieri, the police force, having to have done mostly grunt work before being reassigned to her first murder investigation. Katerina is thrown from the word go into an spiraling murder case. Her first case involves a gunshot victim, female and wearing priest's robes... According to the Catholic church this is not don, and women who are priests are considered to be an abomination. Just this murder scene raises a lot of question as the identity of the women is unknown as well. This first murder case for Katerina will leave a mark on her, I'm sure of that. Looking at the different characters in the storyline, I found that Katerina did make up most of the story in The Abomination and in this case not only because she is leading the murder case and stumbles upon quite a few interesting and disturbing things, her storyline isn't just about solving the case. Jonathan Holt involves much more surrounding her storyline, he delves deeper into the human side of this often times hard carabinieri. Especially the relation between her and her boss, becomes quite intense at times and proves to be complex... Exploring a different side of Katerina greatly broadend the perspective of her character and when you see her reasoning and how she deals with several subjects makes her very relatable and I am not going to say that all she has done is for the better, it's exploring her flaws and introducing perhaps a few learning moments that make her character that much stronger.

A second character that is important in The Abomination is Daniele, his storyline is quite gripping and emotionally laden. Also by his part in the story The Abomination takes a turn towards the more technical thriller bits and piece, showing high tech technology. What really got to me about Daniele's character was his past and how he is now set into the world. Daniele created Carnivia, the online-virtual world of Venice, what sets Carnivia apart from most other platforms is the fact that it is compeltely locked down, traffic is untraceable and cannot be hacked. Daniele was "kindly" asked by the Italian authorities to give them access to all that is going about in in Carnivia but he declined the offer and now faces charges at court. In the beginning of being introduced to Carnivia I wasn't thinking that much about the reason behind it but as you get to know more about Daniele's troubled past, kidnapping, mutilation and living up to a promise several things do fall into place. Daniele didn't grow up poor, it's actually quite the opposite, he grew from riches, but he isn't boasting about it or living the richboy life. He is humble and more focused on helping others, and this made his character just super to read about, yes he does have some hardheaded traits but dont we all?

Just lastly there is Holly Boland, an lieutenant of the US army. When I first read about her in The Abomination I didn't really know what to think of her and how she would play an important role in the story. She is reinstated back in Venice, which is her birthplace. Holly is tasked to investigate a different murder case, and as the story goes along a lot of things happen, the best part here is that both Holly's and Katerina's story start to link and intermingle combined with that of Daniele, this in total gave a well rounded feeling to the story that was further bolstered by the lively characters that you got to meet along the way.

OK so the setting is in Venice and the characters are great, but what makes this story gripping are several of topics that Jonathan Holt discusses. When you think murder cases, you might expect a simple straightforward plot line but The Abomination is far from it. Several topics that Jonathan Holt broaches are warcrimes and tribunals and references to tribunals in The Hague, it takes you from so far as the Balkans. Others are how he shows corruption, betrayal and even history of the Catholic Church and that not everything is as rose colored as many seems to think it is, their past is dark.. darker than I had thought. Also there is the topic of human trafficking and prostitution that add a gritty and dangerously real feeling to the story. All these themes come together nicely in the end to great an intense and gripping thriller.

The Abomination is a now stop ride through both the real and virtual Venice, it gives a scenic tour of the real deal combined with a seriously dangerous virtual tour in Carnivia. The characters are fleshed out the be the real deal, I for one started to really live along with several off them, they are far from perfect and each carry their own set of baggage of their past and have their own flaws, but this is what makes them feel great and whole, their actions reflect who they are. The race is on for Katerina and Holly to get to the bottom of it.. with fear of their own lives... If you are looking for a new experience, get to reading The Abomination

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