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The Abomination by Jonathan Holt

The Abomination - The Carnivia Trilogy 1
Over the weekend I was in the mood for a fast, all-action, conspiracy thriller, set somewhere with an aura of mystery. What luck then that I just happened to have The Abomination awaiting my attention. Or perhaps it was because I had The Abomination waiting for me that I craved such a thing. Maybe the publisher and author are part of a conspiracy to manipulate my reading habits...

I've had some great conversations over the years with a friend of mine about conspiracy theories; he's always got some new deep plot to explain to me. Some are quite outlandish, others seem rather plausible. The events in The Abomination feel on the plausible side to me, which is a bit worrying! It's hard to say too much about the plot without revealing more than you need to know, but it involves the church, the military, the legislature, organised crime - the usual suspects - and a website, called Carnivia. Carnivia is a virtual Venice, where anonymity is guaranteed. Users are free to gossip, wander, interact or observe. It's creator, Daniele Barbo, is being prosecuted for refusing to allow the state access to his servers. He'd like to know what it is they are looking for.

Kat Tapo is a captain with the Carabinieri assigned to her first murder case. But, it's no straight forward investigation. Kat is a driven and ambitious officer, not content to be fobbed off by half-explanations or murky evidence. I loved her so much. She's obviously tough and brave, but she also has an emotional life and doesn't hide from her own desires. There is another proper female character too, in Holly Boland, with the US military. She's grown up in Italy in a military family, and is following in her father's footsteps by returning. Her official role is pretty lame, but Holly likes to do things thoroughly. It doesn't take long for any residual naivety to get knocked out of Holly.

Holly, Kat, and Daniele are all on the trail of something that stinks, but the layers of deception and reach of the conspiracy are greater than any of them individually realise. All three are in various amounts and types of danger. Who to trust is certainly not at all clear cut, and is a changeable thing throughout the novel. I was never less than fully engrossed in what was going on, and loved the shifts in narrative between viewpoints - we get to see the bigger picture. Venice is the perfect setting for this type of thriller, with its centuries old traditions and buildings, its secrets and hidden places. The action spreads out from this centre, to the islands, the mainland, and across the border.

So, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the intertwining of personal and professional amongst the characters, the conspiracy is brilliant in its horribleness and believability, and the writing just pushes you ever onwards. I think the style is perfectly matched to the story. There isn't anything I do not like about The Abomination, except for the fact that I have to wait to read the second book!

Head of Zeus were kind enough to send me a copy of the book for review, thank you. It is out now in Hardback.

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