Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Abomination By Jonathan Holt

Reviewed by Chris Longmuir

I received The Abomination in my Crimefest goodybag, and casting my eyes over my book shelves this week for something new to read I thought I would give this novel a try despite never having heard of the author before. And I was glad I did, because this is one of the best crime fiction books I have read this year.

The book is partly murder, mystery, and partly conspiracy thriller, and it races along to make it the perfect page turner.

It is set in Venice, and starts with the body of a woman, dressed as a priest, who is washed up from the lagoon onto the steps of Santa Maria Della Salute. Apparently women priests, who are not accepted by the Catholic church, are known as ‘The Abomination’, hence the title of the book. The main character, Captain Kat Tapo of the Carabinieri, is teamed up with Detective-Colonel Aldo Piola to investigate the crime. Kat who has a modern attitude in respect of romantic relationships, soon embarks on an affair with the attractive Colonnello Piola.

The investigation throws up references to cults and black magic, but Kat is not convinced and believes the woman was a genuine priest and that the church is involved. Further complications occur when Second Lieutenant Holly Boland arrives at Camp Ederle, a US army base. She becomes involved in a freedom of information request from a journalist who is later murdered.

The third main character, Daniele Barbo is a reclusive computer nerd who designed and runs the Carnivia website, a virtual world where people can visit with complete anonymity. His website is being targeted, and various charges have been logged against him in respect of the usage of the website, and he is currently on bail from the court awaiting his sentence.

The three main characters, Kat, Holly and Daniele, combine forces when their investigative paths cross. The murders are only part of a wider conspiracy involving the military, the Italian Mafia, a dodgy security company, and the historic conflict in the former Yugoslavia, focusing on Croatia.

There are many twists and turns in this book, plus an exciting chase section in Croatia, and I simply could not stop reading until I reached the end. The Abomination is the first book in the Carnivia Trilogy, and I’ll definitely be reading the other two.

NB: There was only one thing I would criticise. I recommended the book to a friend who had difficulty finding it, so I checked the book out on Amazon. The reason for the difficulty was a change of title. It is now listed as The Boatman. Considering the book was published in 2013, I found this difficult to understand, and felt it could be confusing for readers.

Chris Longmuir

The Abomination/The Boatman at Amazon.co.uk